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Compressed Folders Versus Zip

In classic Microsoft fashion, a third-party feature—file compression in this case—has become so useful and widely utilized that Microsoft has decided to include it in the operating system.


A couple of previous examples of this are the inclusion of disk defragmentation software, disk quota support, and improved backup software in Windows 2000, all licensed from their respective companies

Also in classic fashion, Microsoft implements this new feature with limited functionality—just enough to tantalize you, but if you want full functionality, you still need to get the third-party product. The new compressed folders feature in Windows Server 2003 provides similar capabilities as third-party add-ons such as PKZip and WinZip. But can it be used as a replacement? If you just want to be able to compress files, yes. However, the Zip programs (particularly WinZip) provide additional features that might make it worth the cost. Let's take a look at some of the features offered by WinZip and how they compare to the built-in compressed folders feature:

The following options are offered by WinZip but not by the compressed folders feature:

As you can see, WinZip offers several additional features over and above basic file compression. However, you can get by with the minimal functionality of Windows Server 2003's Compressed Folders. For basic functionality, it's virtually identical. Depending on how you use zipped archives, you might not need the extra functionality provided by WinZip. Personally, I like the extra features WinZip offers.

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