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Review of:
by Mike Harrold, Alamo PC

I have been using a Zip compression program for a very long time. Starting with PKZIP in DOS, with all the different versions (bells and whistles), up to WinZip 6.2, which I still use today. I had been reading the reviews of ZipMagic since it came out. 

 The whole idea of being able to use a zipped up directory or file with out unzipping it would save me all kinds of dead time, (the standby time, while the files are being extracted, in which you don't dare ask the computer to do something else, because the computer chip union on the mother board may do an another freeze-up while the union bosses decide what to do first). Needless to say, I HATE the unproductive DEAD time, where I usually end up going over to someone else's desk and snoop over their shoulder and interrupting anything they had going. The shareware sites have had a trial version available, but I never got around to downloading it. (Mainly due to my long and extensive track record of un-successful downloads). So when the opportunity to get a evaluation copy of ZipMagic at one of the past Alamo PC meetings presented itself, I jumped on it. 

The program came on two 3.5" disks. Windows 95 and Windows 3.1 versions were included. There is a Users Manual, with 47 pages of useful stuff and 12 more pages of useless stuff. 

 System requirements are... 

  • IBM PC or compatible running Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 (including OSR-2). 
  • 8 MB of RAM 
  • 2 MB hard disk space (If you download a shareware version at c/net's, you need 2.5MB hard disk space - go figure)
The system I installed it on was a IBM clone with a Pentium 166, 32 MB of RAM, and I had a whole bunch of room left on my hard drive. I later added it to my home computer, which has an AMD 486 chip, running at 133 MHZ, 32 MB of RAM, and a doublespace 100 MB hard drive. ZipMagic really didn't take up a much space. And worked just as well as the other faster and bigger system. On both systems, I have Windows 95 frustrating me. 

 Loading the program was a snap! Two minutes tops! Put Disk One in the 3.5" drive, and access it. Follow the simple commands and you're done. A setup option page asks if you want an icon added to the itty-bitty icon tray at the bottom of your screen, (opposite the all-powerful and amazing START button). I said yes! Now I an icon on the tray with the word "ZIP" in it, (font size = ½), which is important to me because I have 17 icons in the tray and now I know and remember what ONE of them does! 

 Option two will let add ZipMagic program specific functions to your right mouse button. 

Option three is the most important. If you have other zip (compression) programs installed on your computer, you have the option of letting ZipMagic serve as the main application to handle zip archives. At first this didn't seem as such a big deal, until I tried to use my WinZip program, and then there were some scrimmages between the programs; ZipMagic took control. There is a Readme file which gives you a welcome screen and lists hi-lights. 

 The ZipMagic advertisements were accurate. When dealing with zipped up Word Perfect files (and directories), I was able to make changes in documents without unzipping them first. I was able to move subdirectories to other directories. This was great, I was blowing and going! Things were cooking now! 

My glee switched to glum faster than stink on a skunk when I went from text files to graphic files. Moving one little 85K ‘Sunset over Stonehenge' .gif file to a different directory inside a zipped up directory, took longer than it would have to unzip the whole 195 MB main file. It was the same .jpg files. Since I use a whole lot of graphic intensive files, I was greatly disappointed. I ran some small programs out of the zip, such as Mega Man X (for my son, of course), and every program ran perfectly every time. 

 In Windows Explorer, all .zip files are displayed as separate zip directories, with content displayed. ZipMagic supports ZIP, ARJ, LHA/LZH, TAR, Z, GZIP, TAZ, TGZ, ZOO, CAB files, and E-mail attachments, BinHex, base64, uuencode, Xxencode, and MIME. 

 If you would like to purchase this program, all the super computer stores have it for around $39.95. Make sure you go to the service desk to get your AlamoPc discount! 

 Mike Harrold is the Manager of a small Engineering and Testing firm. He started messing around with computers in 1978-79, with an Apple II, serial number 249. After all this time, he still doesn't get it.