When PDF Beats ZIP

When PDF Beats ZIP for Attaching and Extracting Files

There are many benefits to using pdf software for creating all sorts of documents, including forms, eBooks, and user manuals. PDF software allows you to insert images and drawings into the document, encrypt sensitive files, redact confidential information, and even use digital signatures for validation.

These are among a few of the features that make PDF software so popular, however, one that not too many people know about is the ability to embed file attachments into the document itself. Attaching the PDF document to an email or saving multiple documents to a portfolio allows you to easily send the files off to someone else.

What about ZIP compression?

When a file is too large to transfer, people generally rely on file compression to zip the file to make it smaller. Sometimes, they use the same zip file format to send a collection of files or documents to another computer or user. This keeps all of the files together and when they’re unpackaged, or unzipped, the files save to a single folder, making them easy to find.

There are issues with the zip file format, though. For one, many email filters block files that have the .zip extension as phishers often use this format to send malicious files to their victims. By blocking these files, security teams hope to keep malware out of users’ email inboxes.

Another issue that’s common with zipped files is that the process might cause files to become corrupt. Whenever someone modifies a file, in this case by compressing and then expanding it, there’s a risk of corrupting the file contents and rendering it unusable.

Using PDF software instead of ZIP

While PDF software doesn’t compress files the way the zip format does, it does provide an alternative to packaging multiple files for transfer. Acting as an envelope, the PDF document can have files attached to it in one of two ways.

In Foxit PhantomPDF software, select COMMENT > Pin > File and place the cursor where the file should be in the document. An icon that resembles a pushpin will designate to readers that there’s an attachment. This method works well if there’s a description or reference to a certain file that you’ve attached.

The other method attaches a file to the entire document and it’s just as easy. In PhantomPDF, choose EDIT > Insert > File attachment. Select the file to attach, or drag the file to the attachment panel, and voila! You’ve attached the file.

PDF Portfolios package files together as well

Users can also take advantage of PDF Portfolios.  PDF Portfolios combine multiple files together into a single PDF package.  The files in the PDF Portfolio can be PDF files or files of other file formats such as Microsoft® Office® or image files.  When a user opens the portfolio, they will see a thumbnail for each file listed separately, which they can then click on to open.  It is a great way to send files of different file formats together in one package.

Is PDF better than zip?

While using PDF software isn’t always the best alternative when you need to shrink the size of the file, it does make more sense, however, when you’re sending a collection of files to someone else.

Not only does the PDF document provide the ability to include content related to the file as mentioned, but it also allows you to make use of the many other features that PDF software includes. You can digitally sign files, encrypt the contents, share files for collaboration and even use the portfolio feature to better organize content and attached files. So consider the option as part of your workflow.

8 thoughts on “When PDF Beats ZIP

  1. hartwinder

    I think you are over saturating the pdf quality.. pdf is good for print no doubt…but given thd zip is standard format that too with encrption and encrpted zips are far more secure then password protected pdf.. if you have native ability to add feature to pdf do it. We are here to appriciate you ..

  2. Jesús Antonio Santos Giraldo

    I disagree on this paragraph:

    “Another issue that’s common with zipped files is that the process might cause files to become corrupt. Whenever someone modifies a file, in this case by compressing and then expanding it, there’s a risk of corrupting the file contents and rendering it unusable”.

    This simply is not true. Do you have evidence about this?. Don’t get me wrong I use and like a lot Foxit and don’t even use zip files ’cause I use 7-zip, but really PDFs can’t beat 7-zip any time. So if you argument something please provide evidence.


  3. Scott Letterman

    Interesting article but you instructions don’t work! I go to COMMENT and there is NO PIN. So I can’t COMMENT>PIN>FILE possible!

    I’m using Foxit Phantom PDF Vsn … Is this feature not available on that version?
    Thanks, Scott

    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      Sorry for the lack of clarity – in the COMMENT tab, there is a section called Pin, which is the third section from the left – starting with Tools, then Text Markup, and then Pin. In the Pin section you will see the File button. The file button image consists of the page icon with a pin in it.


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