Ashampoo ZIP Free is a free file archiver tool which offers some interesting options. A professional version is also available that offers more functionality. Let’s take an in-depth tour of the free version, its interface and features.
You will need to click on the get free activation key button during the installation process to proceed. The Startscreen interface of Ashampoo ZIP Free is colorful, and perhaps a bit too flashy. However, the categorized layout makes it user-friendly.
Some parts of the GUI are not visible if you’re running it in windowed-mode. But, that’s not really a big deal because most of the options here are exclusive to the PRO version. So, we’ll only discuss what’s available for free users here.
Click on New Archive or Open Archive to access Ashampoo ZIP Free’s archiver interface. It has a much better design that resembles other file archivers. The GUI has a large main pane, a preview pane to the right, and three tabs at the top: Home, Preview, Options.
The Home tab is obviously the primary one, and can be used to create new archives and open existing ones. When you’re working with an archive, its content is displayed in the pane.
Ashampoo ZIP Free lets you create archives in the following formats: ZIP, ZIPX, 7z (7-ZIP), CAB, TAR, TAR.BZ, TAR.BZ2, TBZ, TGZ, TAR.GZ, TAZ, TAR.Z, TAR.XZ, TXZ, LZH and LHA. While it does not support creating RAR archives, it can open and extract them. The application supports 30 archive formats that it can open and extract including the ones mentioned above, RAR, DMG, UDF, ISO, IMG, and more.
The add button lets you select the files and folders that you wish to add to an archive. Either use the Explorer to browse to the directory or simply drag and drop the content to the program’s interface.
Tip: When you switch to windowed mode, the interface switches the icons to a smaller size. This is a nice touch, but only works with the Home tab.
The Select Files/Folders screen allows you to choose the method for archiving (Deflate, Store). You can choose the compression level here, along with options to preserve the folder paths. The compression level (from Super Fast, Fast, Normal, Maximum and up to Ultra) determines the output size of the archive. The lower the level, the bigger the archive size will be. If you want to save space, choose Maximum or Ultra, but these use a lot of memory, so you should ensure you aren’t running memory-heavy programs in the background for an optimal experience. The resultant file’s size also depends on the content that you’re trying to compress.
Note: The program will open a page in your web browser, when you try to access the PRO version’s features.
Ashampoo ZIP Free supports encryption of archives using the AES 256 bit standard. You can password-protect individual files in an archive, and leave the rest as they are or use a password for the entire archive.
To retrieve content from an archive, mark the files and folders that you want, hit the Extract button and choose a folder to extract them to. Alternatively, Right-click in the main pane to extract, delete files from the archive. It can also be used to access the sorting options, and to change the view style. Click on the email button in the Home tab to attach the selected archive to a new mail (opens in your default mail client).
Ashampoo ZIP Free’s Preview pane can be used to view the contents of files. Select a text file or RTF, or an image, media (audio or video), Hex, Binary, Unicode, and you’ll see a preview of it right within the program’s GUI. This is really handy as you don’t have to open the file in a third-party app, when you’re creating or browsing an archive. The Preview pane is resizable.
You can disable the preview window from the Preview tab if you don’t want to use it, or display it only when you need it.
Note: While testing the program, the preview pane got minimized, but I don’t remember how it happened. Then I noticed there were four vertical dots in the right-edge of the screen and the cursor changed to a re-size arrow. That’s how I restored it.
Like most compression tools, Ashampoo ZIP Free comes with a context menu for Windows Explorer. But, I didn’t like the huge list it added to the menu.
Fortunately, you can customize it from the program’s Options > Shell Extensions screen. You don’t have to restart Explorer, but you’ll need to close the Configuration window for the changes to take effect.
That looks better, right?
There’s one other thing which I thought was worth mentioning. Ashampoo ZIP adds its own icons (if you associate it to be the default file handler for archive formats), and uses different icons for different formats. It looks nice. Another feature that I liked was that the Startscreen remembered the archives that I had opened in the previous sessions.
There are three tools available in Ashampoo ZIP Free: Repair Archive, SFX Archive and Multi-Volume Zip. The Repair tool can be used to obtain content from broken/corrupted archives. The SFX Archive option creates a self-extracting archive, that you can send to your contact and they’ll be able to extract it without using any archiver tool. The Multi-Volume Zip is especially useful if you want to split a large file into smaller file sizes, for e.g. to send as an attachment via email or maybe to store across several optical discs.
Note: The configuration window has many themes for the interface, but none of those are available for the free version.
Ashampoo ZIP Free runs on Windows 7 and above. Don’t be put-off by the Startscreen, the program’s archiver interface has a lot more functions than the average one, and is worth a try.
Ashampoo ZIP Free is a well-designed file archiver for Windows. Some users may dislike the requirement to create an account to use the software though.