Every traveler needs their essentials when traveling in a strange land and the Internet is no exception. There are all kinds of programs and all kinds of files that a “newb” might not be aware of even when the rest of the population knows them so well they can barely exist without them. These are going to be the most commonly needed applications that no one has installed for you or your browser shrugged it’s shoulders at.
Compressed files serve an incredible niche in the virtual world. Think of them as little suitcases crammed as tightly full of clothes as they can be, while 7zip is the fat lady sitting on top forcing the lid to close. Not only does compression put all those “clothes” in the case, but it actually manages to fold them in such a way as to make them take up less space, so now you have more clothing(data) taking up less space and all in one neat little package. Organize your backups, unclutter your hard drive, increase upload speeds, decrease download times. Use compression!
I mention 7zip above, but it is by no means the only compression software out there, but it is one of the best. Another good one to try if you can handle the nag screen is WinRAR which in it’s defense I still use through the context menu on my 64bit XP machine and have used it for years with no complaints.
What’s a “Context menu”? It’s the menu that pops up when you right-click on a file.
7zip can unpack 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, DEB, DMG, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MSI, NSIS, RAR, RPM, UDF, WIM, XAR and Z files, but it can only compress in the most convenient formats of 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR. I happen to like compressing to RAR myself, so I wouldn’t mind having WinRAR on any of my boxes. WinRAR only compresses to RAR and ZIP and can unpack CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ and TAR.GZ, BZ2 and TAR.BZ2, ACE, UUE, JAR (Java Archive), ISO (ISO9660 – CD image),7Z, Z (Unix compress).
A compressed file is normally called an “archive”
Spend any reasonable amount of time on the Internet and eventually you will come across at least one of these file types, more than likely a RAR, ZIP or 7z file as they are the most common compressions with Windows. Windows XP and newer can actually handle .ZIP on it’s own.
Ok. Ok, so you just downloaded a fresh “Movie.7z” and used one of the programs listed above to extract it and you double-click on the little “movie.avi” file and super huge and bulky Windows Media Player comes plopping and plodding up on your screen 35 seconds later. It tries to load the movie, but no avail. It needs your permission to get some codec or something. ehhh….
Go and get a real media player for your machine. I use 3 different ones. KM Player, Winamp and Gom All three are highly customizable, easy to use and between KM Player and Gom you should be able to play any video that can be thrown at you, if it’s even remotely playable. Winamp is dependant on codec packs generally, but KM Player will install it’s codecs for Winamp to use if you let it. Winamp is also a pretty awesome MP3 player in it’s own right. If you combine it with something like DFX the sound is simply amazing. Maybe you like Windows Media Player 11 or 12 or10 or whatever number it is now. Try out the Combined Community Codec Pack to get your videos playing, but please for the sake of your computer at least try out Media Player Classic.
So now you can make compressed files and play video files on your computer using some of the better media players but what if you want your own DVDs to be backed up on your computer? Well that’s not a problem if you followed along with my 2nd guide.
Your going to need a DVD or CD that you want to make the image from, a DVD-ROM and that amazing little piece of software ImgBurn. Place your disk in your disk drive and open ImgBurn. This time you will want to pick “Create an Image from a Disc”, pick the disk drive as the source and then make sure the destination is where you want it to be. Hit the little icons at the bottom and blammo you have an image of your disc a little while later.
You now have the knowledge available to you to create a backup of your personal movie or music collection, bit for bit, compress them to an archive. Extract them from the archive using the context menu and burn the Image file back onto a blank disk or mount them using Daemon tools.