Dump the freebie zip utility.

Question: I am having problems with Cam Zip, which I downloaded as freeware. I have installed it and now when I double-click on files, they appear in the Cam Zip box, but I get confused on how to open these Zip files. I double-click on them and I find that some of the program works but not all. Am I doing this properly? Please advise. – Paula

Answer: After some back-and-forth discussion with Paula, I discovered that the Cam Zip program was acting inconsistently. So I recommend that she dump it and go with a more stable product like WinZip or PKZip. Both have a 30-day trial period and are under $33 US to buy.

Frankly, I’m all for freeware. The authors provide a real service to the computing community by writing these programs and giving them away free…that is, if the programs work. You might try IZArc, I haven’t run into major problems with it yet. I’ll let you know there is rarely any support for freeware, so if a free program doesn’t work as advertised, try shareware, programs that people write and distribute freely with the expectation that users will send in a small dollar amount to cover the cost of development…if the user finds the product useful. Failing shareware, go with a pay product that offers user support.

Since ZIP utilities, which compress or uncompress ZIP format files, are so useful, I personally don’t mind paying the reasonable fees that their authors ask. Otherwise, three pay products that handle ZIP files are:

  1. PKware’s PKZip
  2. Nico Mac’s WinZip
  3. AlphaZIP

For more on ZIP files see this column: ZIP utilities explained.