I received an email from Lena a couple of weeks ago. She asked me if there was a way to put several files together for storing them in a more organized way. She was trying to put all of her business files from week to week in one file for storage. Basically, one week’s worth of files in a single file. She would not need them much in the future but if needed she would need to be able to easily access them.

I suggested that she could easily just put them in a folder. She understood but wanted them in one file to decrease the actual number of files. She said she may have 100-plus files to put together.

Of course, there are many ways to do what she wants to do. However, for a Windows computer, I will only mention three below.

But first a definition of a file type you may have heard of before a zip file. A zip file is a file that can contain one or more files in one container. That container is the zip or zipped file. A zip file most likely has the extension zip on it like “ron.zip.” It is a lossless file archive, meaning that even though the final zip file may be smaller than the original files together nothing in the files will be lost. OK, first question, if it is smaller how does it not delete some information?

Good question and some things are deleted. Let us pretend that I zip the 50 columns I wrote last year for a newspaper. Guess what? There are many repeated items in those files … think of all the spaces between words, repeated letters, etc. A simple explanation is that the Zip program will remove most of those characters and remember where they were. When I unzip the individual zipped file later and reopen the originals the characters go back where they started. No losses; hence the name lossless. It really only needs one original character of each to copy it back in multiple thousands of locations.

First of the three is the one that Windows comes with, built-in zip. It has no name but this is how you use it. Open Windows Explorer showing the files you wish to zip. Select them all. Right-click on one of them and choose, “Send To” then select, “Compressed zip folder.” It creates a new file and is done. To unzip them right click the zip file and choose “Extract.” It will create a folder with the name of the zip file and have the files contained within.

The other two apps, which I like more since they offer many more features, with my favorite, encryption, are WinZip (winzip.com) and 7-Zip (7-zip.org). They work very similarly and are, I feel, equal in features. I like 7-Zip slightly better since it is now and always has been free.

After you install either of them, they work similarly as the built-in app with exceptions. You select the files, right click and choose the one you installed then you have many options. You can save it as a different type of zipped file, like RAR, which is very popular too, along with others, if needed. But the thing I like the most is that it offers encryption. That means you can add a password required to reopen the file in the future. Be warned that once encrypted with a password you must have that password to reopen your original files. Look on Google or YouTube for details on using them.

Happy Zipping!

Contact Ron Doyle at DoubleClicks.info, and for seminar information, visit DoubleClicksLive.com.

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