Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Held to ransom over Winzip Archive Files

When I acquired my first PC in 1992 I started to use WinZip to archive data - some of it transferred from other computers and dating from 1988 or earlier. However as storage has become so cheap, I haven't used it to archive important files since 2003 although I used it extensively to store records of ebay sales and purchases between 2003 and 2005.  However I have used it occasionally to unpack old files or zipped folders supplied by other people.

I recently received an invitation to try out a new version of WinZip (version 15.5) for free. I thought it might be useful to have a quick look - and decided not to purchase. Several months later I wanted to unzip some of my old archives and found that the trial version wanted payment - and HORROR of HORRORS - it had deleted the old version. I needed to access the files - so reluctantly I paid up. It then became apparent that the version I had brought would stop functioning if I didn't continue to make annual payments - and so I would loose access to 20 year old archives unless continued to pay up indefinitely. There is nothing to say in the terms and conditions that it will remove old (but licensed) versions of the software,  or about from the vague word "limited", indicate that you will be unable to access your ancient files unless you pay an annual fee ...

WinZip appear to have forgotten that the whole part of archiving information is to be able to retrieve it in the future. I am quite happy to pay an annual fee when I am actively using the software to archive new files - as long as there is a guarantee that the fee I paid to create the archive also allows me to recover the data at any time in the future.

To add insult to injury, the software came with the benefit of free software - which is no more that a sales promotion package in that if you run it you are told you can only use it properly if you pay even more money ....

The "access to old files" situation is rather like the trick that Microsoft played with Word some years ago - when an upgrade meant that it would no longer read text files I had archived in the 1990s. As a result I am keeping running an old PC which has a version of Word which will read the old files - and reformat them into a form that newer Microsoft software will still read. I have also switched to OpenOffice (Free!) which can read the old files (although with a few formatting errors).

The only benefit of all this is that I search my hard disc for all WinZip folders (5211 of them) and listed them in date order. As a result I have found a number of important folders containing files relating to CODIL from the 1980s which I had thought I had lost.

1 comment:

  1. To add insult to injury the so-called free package was linked to my start routines - so runs every time I log in to tell me I ought to spend some more money. And a couple of days later I get another email from WinZip with the title "Why is your PC so slow". The email says "Download your free scan now and let WinZip System Utilities Suite speed up your computer!" If it is anything like the previous package it will run - and then say I need to spend more money. However I doubt that it will tell me that there is a bloody WinZip package already wasting resources by posting an advert every time I log in!

    The sooner I upzip all my old archives and clear all traces of WinZip from my computer the happier I will be.