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My work comes to me over the Internet, and often includes tens of megabytes of files. E-mail providers often block anything that large, so some of my clients use a service called WeTransfer, which will send up to two gigabytes, free.

Recently, though, I've started having a problem: I get a download from them, which is zipped; I click to unzip; I get a file in a format called ".cpgz"; I click that; I get back a new copy of the original zipped file. Apparently the process just cycles, and never yields a readable file.

I don't usually find online help archives helpful; finding exactly the entry that addresses my problem is tedious and unreliable. But I was having this problem again today, so I decided it was time for desperate measures. And there in the first entry was an explanation: Both Windows and Mac provide decompression utilities as part of their operating systems, but those can't handle the compressed files WeTransfer produces. And whenever someone wants to send two or more files, they're automatically compressed, for efficient. It's a curious notion of efficiency that involves using a format that neither of the big two operating systems can work with. . . .

WeTransfer pointed me at what seems to be an actual solution: There's a utility called The Unarchiver that can work with their zipped files. It turned out to be available from the Apple Store as a free download. It worked on the first download I tried it on.

But really, couldn't they have just come up with a compression algorithm that works with the "out of the box" OSs?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:58 pm (UTC)
.cpgz seems to be gzip-compressed cpio format.

My suspicion based on that is that someone at WeTransfer is a Linux-orientated person who prefers not to sully his mind with ordinary zip files. He probably explains to his non-technical management that this is better in complicated ways, and that there are lots of free tools for extracting this format. This doesn't tend to involve considering people who prefer to use computers, rather than tinker with them. It's amazing how apparently credible internet-based companies can consist of a few people bodging things together.
Jan. 11th, 2017 09:06 pm (UTC)
You know, I looked up cpgz before, hoping to find out what was going on, and I found a discussion (might have been Wikipedia) that gave three different complicated ways to deal with the issue. The most understandable was to open up the CLI interface for my Mac and type in various things. Since I have never, ever done this, and since I have painful memories of dealing with CLI long ago, it seemed like a high price to pay, and I hoped to avoid it.

I would forgive WeTransfer their cranky ways if they would just put a big, highly visible link up saying "We zip the files we send; to unzip, you need a special app. Click here to go to the Apple Store." [And of course a different place to click for a Windows app.] The fact that the simple, remarkably easy fix is concealed in a hard to find Q&A—not even a FAQ!—really strikes me as poor customer service.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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