Archival Software -- WinZIP, WinRAR, WinACE, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Last week, Rose J. asked how she could to back up the "How to Install / Reinstall Windows" video tutorial and eBook on floppy disk:

" I need to [copy your] video on to a [floppy] disk, and I can't seem to do that. Can you explain the procedure in detail? "

I mentioned in the previous newsletter that this would be a time-consuming task and that backing up files to a floppy disk is generally not a good idea. In brief, here are a few reasons why:

  • 14 floppies would be required to complete the task, since the video and eBook have a combined size of 19 megabytes.
  • The time to write information to a floppy disk is dramatically longer than virtually all other higher capacity storage devices commonly used today.
  • Floppies have a very high failure rate and a low shelf life.
  • Because standard-size floppy disks hold 1.44 megabytes of information, the eBook and video files must be split into manageable pieces in order to fit onto multiple disks. In techy terms, this is also known as "spanning a file".
  • All split files must be recompiled to their original condition before they are useable. If one file goes corrupt on a floppy disk (very likely, since floppies have a high failure rate), it is also highly likely that one or more files in the archive will be unrecoverable.

OK, so why backup onto floppy?

The problem is that Rose doesn't own another backup medium which is large enough to hold the tutorial for keepsake (IE: ZIP disk, or CD-R). Backing up onto floppy is possible, but not advisable.

Popular archival software: WinRAR

WinRAR is software used to archive, compress, and split files into manageable chunks. Like WinZIP and WinACE, WinRAR has been around for quite some time and has become a standard among Internet users.

WinRAR is supported on multiple platforms (IE: Macintosh or Unix) and "provides complete support for ... ZIP archives and is [also] able to unpack CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO [file extensions and] archives" (source:

WinRAR can executed from the command line (DOS), by invoking the WinRAR executable itself, or through the Windows Shell Extension. The shell extension method is the most intuitive approach since it is invoked through Windows Explorer with the right-click of the mouse -- an extension of the "File Properties" dialogue menu. This technique is also commonly used with other archival programs, such as WinZIP and WinACE.

A brief comparison of WinRAR to WinZIP, and WinACE:

WinRAR is (in my opinion) the archiving champion when it comes to popularity amongst users -- especially when there is a need to span the archive.

WinZIP is also very popular, but does not manage file splitting as easily as WinRAR does and requires additional software to handle supplementary file extensions. WinACE has a similar intuitive feel as WinRAR and can easily create multi-volume archives, but is not as widely used as WinRAR or WinZIP.

All three titles are downloadable for evaluation purposes; when the time limit expires, the user is asked to register the software. Each software title sells for the identical price of $29 USD.

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