PKWare adds selective intelligence to Zip

PKWare says it can save businesses money by making its PKZip program more intelligent, allowing companies to choose which kinds of files can be compressed

PKWare, the company behind the ubiquitous zip compression software said on Tuesday it is adding a selective compression tool for administrators so they can reduce their processing overheads by setting a policy to only compress specific file types.

PKZip has been the de facto standard for compressing files for more then 10 years. The utility became popular as PC usage spread, and users found they could "zip" files to reduce their size and so fit more information on a standard floppy disk. Now the utility is commonly used as a secure container for compressing and transporting a group of files.

Timothy Kennedy, chief operating officer and president of PKWare, told ZDNet UK that by giving administrators the ability to pick and choose which files are compressed, companies will save processing power, time and money

"With all the new versions of our product we are making it intelligent and intuitive so that you can either turn the compression on or off. It allows people to get the value out of our product in terms of using it as a secure container but in a very elegant way," he said.

According to Kennedy, most data files and text documents can be compressed by anything up to 80 percent, but for file formats that are already compressed -- such as Gif, JPEG and Adobe's PDF -- Zip may not even achieve 30 percent compression, which leads to wasted processor power and time.

"Like any application, if you deploy compression there is some overhead. With the latest versions of our products you can define which file extension you want to zip. If you throw a bunch of stuff into a Zip container, our product has the intelligence to know it should compress these files and not even try to compress those files," he said.

However, Kennedy said the company is continually "tweaking" its product to improve performance and according to internal benchmarks, the compression ratios have improved significantly over the past couple of years. "Two years ago, a PDF file, for example, could only be compressed between 5 and 15 percent. But with some of our latest stuff we are compressing PDF files by 30 percent," he said.