WinZip, makers of the file compression utility first launched in the early 90′s that still sees north of 30 million downloads per year, is today making a shift to the cloud. The company is launching ZipShare, a file zipping, management, encryption, and sharing service that works with the major online file hosting platforms.
Currently, ZipShare lets users zip and share files both from their own computer as well as from Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, SugarSync, HighTail and CloudMe, with others in the works. However, it’s the file management capabilities that make ZipShare interesting.
To be clear, ZipShare is not looking to become yet anther cloud storage service player itself. Instead, the company is thinking of the new service as a means of making its WinZip technology more relevant in today’s world, where many users are now creating, saving and sharing their files entirely online.
WinZip had already been thinking about how the cloud will impact its business, of course. With the launch of WinZip version 17 in October 2012, it added in support for cloud services, like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive, among others. But reviews of that product were somewhat mediocre.
In addition, WinZip has, to a lesser extent, integrated with cloud services in its mobile apps, though that will change in time as the apps are updated with expanded support for file hosting sites.
But until now, explains Jacques Lamontagne, Director of Product Management at WinZip, all the versions of the company’s software have been specific to single environments. “We wanted to create a product that was platform agnostic and to do that, we had to create a web app,” he says. He also notes that the company wanted to focus more on the sharing features of WinZip, over the compression aspects.
With the new ZipShare service, in development since March 2013, you can quickly share a bigger file or files instead of attaching those items to an email – like the way you would use any cloud storage site, really. But the service is better designed to work more like a plugin to the various cloud platforms, rather than a tool that forces you to use its own storage option.
That is, when you’re uploading files to ZipShare, you can specify which cloud storage site you want to use as those files’ final destination. The files are zipped up during upload, saving you storage space on your preferred service, and you can optionally add password protection. This introduces a second layer of security (AES-256 encryption is used) over whatever measures the destination service may already use, making the files safer from hacking attempts.
After your upload is complete, you can choose to share the zip file to email, or to social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. ZipShare will offer recipients a URL, which, when clicked, points them to the zip file to download. The service also tracks the delivery of those downloads, to allow the sender to know when the files have been accessed.
In addition to its ability to quickly upload and zip files from the web, both desktop and mobile, ZipShare lets you manage all the files across your preferred cloud services in the website’s “My Files” section. That means you can use ZipShare to delete files, move files or entire folders between file hosting sites, as well as zip or unzip files in the cloud.
The ability to zip up your cloud-saved files could be helpful for those looking to maximize the free storage all these hosting providers offer. “When you total up [the free storage provided], we’re up to 40 to 50 GB of free space,” notes Lamontagne. “And a free user could just keep using them until they fill up,” he says.
The product is currently in beta while the company finishes optimizing the service for use on mobile platforms, with a commercial launch planned for later this spring.
During the beta period, all the features including sharing, tracking, encryption and file management will be available, but later only basic file sharing will remain free. WinZip is currently thinking the pro version will cost $39.95/year, though that may change. It’s also exploring the idea of a $9.95/month model, as well as partnerships with one or more of the cloud hosting companies.
Interested users can sign up here.