Category Archives: Tech

Zamzar — helpful file format translator but hangs up sometimes

I just tried out the free version of Zamzar.com’s file conversion service and found it worked quickly and converted more or less as promised. The files I uploaded and converted included:

  • 1 pdf file (1.3mb) — converted to *.doc in a little less than 1 minute. However, in spite of the *doc extension, the file format actually was rtf and the output file was 13.5mb.
  • 1 jpg file (831.9kb) — converted to a 1.3mb *.gif in a little under a minute. The quality of the photo seemed to remain consistent.
  • 1 mp3 (6mb) — converted to a 2.9mb mp4 file in 3.5 min. The smaller file seems better quality than the original, but that’s generally the case for mp4 files.

I spent a while trying to convert a web page, but the result was consistently either a message to use a file that has an extension, or that the translation format was not available. Unless one has selected a downloadable file from a website, a url doesn’t carry an extension. Most of Zamzar’s “translate to” formats are the same three letters as are their file extensions; the one choice Zamzar listed with a literal dot+3letter extension wouldn’t work.

Another glitch: I couldn’t get Zamzar to translate files one after another without closing my browser (Firefox), going back to the site, and making sure the login/password slots were empty. I had to do this several times in a row between the second and third file. After that, I also cleared my browser’s memory and history. Zamzar is probably downloading a cookie to make free translations harder, maybe to encourage us to sign up for the fee version, but I’m not likely to do that. Lots of free file converters are available for download, which is how I mostly want to handle my personal files. FreeFileConvert.com also does a pretty good job, if you’re looking for another online converter.

I’ll add the link to Zamzar.com and FreeFileConvert.com onto the browsers of librarian’s and patrons’ computers at the library and onto my own, but I won’t spend the library’s or my own money for Zamzar’s services.