http://www.bitser.org

Bitser Manual

Contents

Overview
Installation
Creating Archives
Managing Archives
Reports
Password Manager
Options
Context Menu
Translations
General Information

Overview

Bitser is a free windows application for managing archives and backups similar to Winzip, 7-zip and WinRAR but with an alternate user interface. Bitser's interface is built around the file system with explorer style views and features similar to those found in backup applications. All underlying archiving functions are performed using the open source 7zip compression software and therefore all major archiving formats are supported. Bitser also provides a password manager and a MD5/SHA checksum calculator to verify file identity.

Features

 

Installation

To install Bitser simply run setup.exe. Bitser requires Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 which is freely available from Microsoft's website. If .NET 4 is not detected during setup it will be automatically downloaded and installed. You can download and install it manually using the link above. Bitser also contains an msi installer file which allows network administrators to deploy Bitser using Active Directory and group policy. Bitser has been tested and is supported on the following operating systems (32-bit and 64-bit):

 

Creating Archives

The create tab is used to create new archives. This tab provides a windows explorer view of all folders and files on your computer. It also shows all the options required to configure and create an archive. To create a simple archive using the default configuration you only need to select the format, the destination and the files and folders you wish to archive. The steps are as follows:

When you click the checkbox of a file or folder, Bitser will calculate and display its uncompressed size in the job details window. If the size of the item selected is large, it may take considerable time to calculate. You can press the 'escape' key at any time to abort the calculation. Bitser will attempt to recalculate the items when you make another selection. You can disable size calculation completely by un-checking the 'Calculate selection size' option in the options tab.

Options

There are many configuration options available when creating a new archive. A detailed description of each option is provided below.

Select Destination

The archive's destination location and filename is set using the 'select destination' button. Select the archive format before selecting the destination. You do not have to specify the extension when entering the filename. It will be added automatically. If you select an existing archive you will be prompted to open the archive first. If opened the manage tab will be automatically selected. You can either add files from this tab or return to the create tab to use the explorer checkboxes to add files. You will see a green plus icon next to the destination filename to indicate that you are adding files to an existing archive. Many options are disabled and cannot be modified when updating an existing archive.

Format

Bitser can create 3 types of archives. zip, 7zip and exe archives. An exe archive is actually a 7zip archive that is self extracting. That means it does not require any external software like Bitser to extract the files. Anyone can extract these files regardless of the software installed on their PC.

Update Mode

Sets the method used when updating existing archives.

Add and Replace - adds new files and overwrites existing (default)
Add and Update - adds new files and overwrites existing only if newer
Update Existing - no new files added, updates existing only if newer

This is used when you are updating an already existing archive and determines what will happen if the files you are adding already exist in the archive. The default action is to overwrite existing files with the newly added. The default option is recommended when creating new archives.

Compression

Sets the compression level. Higher compression is slower but result in a smaller file and vice versa. 'None' means files are not compressed at all and are added as they are. 'Ultra' is the slowest compression setting but will result in the smallest possible file size. 'Normal' is the optimum balance between the time taken and the amount of compression achieved.

Save Full Paths

Files will be added to the archive with their full directory path from the root of the drive. If deselected, files will be added with their relative directory paths. This option can also be used to prevent 'duplicate filename' errors caused by files with the same name in different folders. Sometimes using the relative paths can result in an error if you have the same filename in different folders.

Split By Drives

This option will create separate archives for each drive that has selected items. For example 'Archive-C.zip' and 'Archive-D.zip'. This option can also be used to prevent duplication errors caused by items from different drives with identical paths.

Create Archive

Click this button to begin creating the archive. Progress of the job will be shown in the job detail window.

Encrypt Archive

Encrypts and password protects the files within an archive. Filenames in an encrypted archive can still be read but the file itself cannot be opened without a password. Use the 7z archive format if you wish to also encrypt and hide the filenames using the 'Encrypt header' option.

Encrypt Header

Encrypts the archive's header information. This means folder and file names will not be visible without entering a password. This option is only available when creating 7z archives.

Encryption Method

The encryption methods available are ZipCrypto and AES-256. ZipCrypto encryption provides the greatest compatibility with older zip software but is not secure and can be easily cracked. AES-256 encryption combined with a strong password (Non-dictionary, alphanumeric, 8+ characters) is currently secure and has not been cracked.

Solid Mode (7z)

Solid mode is a 7z only option and improves the compression ratio in most cases.

Split Archive

Sets the size at which an archive will be split into multiple files. Settings this option to 0 disables splitting of an archive (default setting). Split archives are generally only compatible with the software with which they are created. Splitting an archive may be necessary for very large archives if for example you need to backup to multiple DVD's. You may also need to break an archive into smaller parts if you need to email it.

Custom Parameters

Custom parameters are for advanced users who know the command line switches used in the 7zip software. Switches added here are added to the command line when creating an archive. Refer to the 7zip documentation at www.7-zip.org for further details.

Compress shared files

Compresses shared files open for writing by another application. During the creation of an archive, files being archived may already be opened by another application. If they are opened but not locked by an application they will still be archived but they may be in an inconsistent state.

Hibernate when completed

Your computer will go into hibernation (standby mode) when the job is complete. The desktop will be restored when the pc is brought out of hibernation. This is the same as selecting shutdown-standby in Windows.

Job Details Window

The job details window shows the progress and summary of an archive job. If the job completes successfully you will see a detailed summary of the job and the archives properties. You can click on the archives file name or the 'open' item within the window to open the archive once the job is complete.

Profiles

Profiles allow you to save the settings you configure in Bitser's "Create" tab for future use. You can save almost all the settings in the "Create" tab including selected files and folders, compression, encyption etc, into a single profile. This means the next time you want to archive the same data using the same settings you can just select the saved profile from the dropdown box and all your settings will be re-applied. To create a new profile click the "spanner" icon next to the profile dropdown box and select "Add". The current archive settings will be automatically saved into the new profile which will be called "Profile1". You can rename, edit or delete this profile or make changes to any setting and then save it. You can also set a profile as 'Default' which means it will load automatically the next time Bitser starts. If you ever want to revert back to Bitser's default settings you can just re-select the 'Bitser' profile. This profile cannot be deleted.

 

 

Managing Archives

The manage tab is used to manage existing archives and can be used to open, add, extract, convert, encrypt or test an archive. Bitser can open the following archive types: ZIP, 7Z, RAR, ISO, MSI, GZIP, BZIP2 ,TAR ,CAB, CHM, CPIO, DEB, DMG, LZH, LZMA, NSIS, RPM, UDF, WIM, XAR, Z.

Bitser provides a number of ways to view and manage archives. The default view is typical of most zip software with options to open, add, extract and test etc. Using the default view you can open archives using the 'open' icon and add or extract files as per usual. Alternatively, if you click the blue 'down arrow' icon you will see 2 additional folder panels called 'Source' and 'Destination'. The 'Source' panel allows you to browse through your folders and selected supported archives. This allows you to browse and open the contents of any archive quickly and easily. The 'Destination' panel allows you to select and see which folder the archive will be extracted to. These additional 'Source' and 'Destination' panels are useful for users who either work a lot with archives or who just prefer to see everything within a single window. The extract panel on the far right will extract the selected archives contents to the selected destination folder without further prompting.

There are also some additional viewing options which allow you to hide the destination panel and always prompt for a destination. (Refer to the Options - Always prompt for destination). Detailed descriptions of all options and functions on the Manage tab are provided below.

Opening archives

Archives can be opened directly from windows explorer or they can be opened from within Bitser. Click the 'open archive' icon to open an existing archive. If the 'source' panel is shown then to open an archive simply navigate to the folder and select the file. The open archive icon is not available when the 'Source' directory panel is shown.

Adding files

The Add files icon allows you to add files and folders to an archive. It will show a windows explorer panel from which you can drag and drop folders and files into the archive below. The Add files icon also has a drop down option which lets you specify the Update Mode for files that are being added. (Refer to 'Creating archives - Update Mode' for details) . You can also drag items into the archive from the normal windows explorer or from the desktop.

Extracting files

There are a number of ways to extract files from an archive. Any file or folder shown in an archive can be dragged onto the desktop or into windows explorer using the mouse. To extract only some items you can use the checkboxes to check the items you wish to extract. If the 'destination' folder panel is shown you can use the 'Extract' button otherwise use the small purple extract icon in the toolbar. Some additional extract options are also available on the main extract panel or in the extract icon drop down menu. They are as follows:

Converting an archive

Bitser can convert archives into different formats and configurations. You can change an archives format, compression level, split size, solid mode, or encryption method. You can convert any supported archive into a zip, 7zip or exe archive. To convert an archive simply open the archive and click the convert icon . This will open a new window showing all the properties of the archive that can be modified. The conversion process can either replace the original archive or create a copy using the new configuration. The default action is to convert and replace the original archive. To create a copy click 'Select destination' and enter a new filename. If you want to retain the original archive you must also un-check the 'Delete source archive' option. It is also possible to create a copy or convert an archive using only a subset of its original files. To do this you must un-check the folders and files you want to exclude prior to clicking the convert icon.

Encrypting an archive

To encrypt an archive click the convert icon and select the encryption tab. Enter the desire settings and click ok. The encryption methods available are ZipCrypto and AES-256. ZipCrypto encryption provides the greatest compatibility with older zip software but it is no longer secure and can be easily cracked. AES-256 encryption combined with a strong password (Non-dictionary, alphanumeric, 8+ chars) is currently secure and cannot be cracked.

Testing an archive

To test an archive to ensure it is not corrupt click the Test icon . The archive will be tested and the results displayed.

VirusTotal.com - Test Archive

Bitser allows you to use the online scanner at VirusTotal.com to check files for viruses and malware. VirusTotal, a subsidiary of Google, is a free online service that analyses files and URLs enabling the identification of viruses, worms, trojans and other kinds of malicious content detected by antivirus engines and website scanners. Unlike your typical Windows anti-virus software, VirusTotal.com currently uses 55 different antivirus software products to scan a single file. This gives you the most comprehensive analysis of a particular file before you decide to open it.

When you click the icon Bitser will calculate the unique signature (SHA-256 Checksum) of the file and search VirusTotal's online database to find out if the file has already been analysed. If it has, Bitser will retrieve the results from VirusTotal.com and display a report showing the scan results of all 55 anti-virus scanners. Each scanner will show whether the file is "OK" or has "Failed" the scan. If there are any failed scans then the detected virus name will be displayed in the report. Bitser also allows you to click the Reports button to see the report directly on VirusTotal's website.

If the file is not found in VirusTotal's database Bitser will notify you and display an Upload button. If you click the Upload button Bitser will upload the file to VirusTotal's server for analysis. After the file has been successfully uploaded it will go into VirusTotals scanning queue and their website will be opened in your default browser so that you can see the progress of the scan. It may take some time for the scan to complete depending on how busy VirusTotal's servers are. IMPORTANT: Please make sure you have read and understand VirusTotal's privacy policy before uploading any files to their servers. Especially any personal files.

Archive information

The information icon will give you a detailed description of the archives properties including its sizes, compression ratio, file count, and encryption method.

Archive file listing

The list icon allows you to see a complete listing of all the files in the archive. This is sometimes referred to as a classic or flat view of an archive

Archive Checksums (md5/sha)

Bitser can calculate MD5, SHA-1 or SHA-256 checksums for any file. A checksum is used to verify the identity of a file and is normally listed on a web page next to the files download link as a string of random characters. The checksum is calculated by the author of a file when it is created. It is made available to users so that they may validate a files identity at a later date. It allows users to verify that a file has not been tampered with since its creation. MD5, SHA-1 and SHA-256 are some of the more popular checksums currently in use on the web. To calculate the checksum of an open archive simply click the information icon and then click the 'checksums' button. File checksums can also be calculator in windows explorer using the Bitser context menu.

Compression ratio

Bitser displays compression values as both a ratio and a percentage in its archive reporting and properties. The ratio is shown as the number of uncompressed bytes to the number of compressed bytes. So a 10 MB file compressed to 2 MB would have a compression ratio of 5:1. The compression ratio percentage is calculated as (compressed bytes / uncompressed bytes * 100). Using the above example it would be 20%. The lower the percentage the higher the compression. Not all software reports compression amounts in the same way. Some software reports the compression saving % which in the above example would be the inverse value of 80%. Bitser uses the same method used by WinRAR and 7zip.

Deleting files from archive

To delete files from an archive select the items you wish to delete and then right click and select delete. You can highlight multiple items using the shift or ctrl keys. You can only delete items from the details pane of the open archive.

Character Encoding (Character Set, Code Page... etc)

Firstly, character encoding is complicated! Bitser uses 7-zip for all archiving functions. Therefore Bitser supports the 3 encoding modes that 7-zip provides. 7-zip provides UTF-8, Windows and DOS encoding. UTF-8 encoding can represent every character in the Unicode character set. What does that mean? Well, Unicode is the computing standard that can more or less represent all the text from all the languages from around the world. So that means Bitser should be able to display the filenames of any archive created in any language provided it was created using UTF-8 encoding.

By default Bitser uses the 7-zip switch "-sccUTF-8" which means all input and output from archives are encoded in UTF-8. However, many archives are not created using UTF-8 encoding. Many archives are created using the default Windows encoding or Dos encoding of their computer (including the windows native zips you can create using explorer). These encoding will vary depending on the regional settings of the computer. So a zip file created in Japan with Japanese characters might look fine on most computers in Japan but if someone in Australia tries to open it the computer will have a different default encoding for windows and the archive filenames will be decoded incorrectly. So the moral of the story is if you are going to exchange zip files with someone in japan and you live in Australia tell them to make sure that use UTF-8 encoding!

So Bitser is set to UTF-8 encoding by default but the reality is that many archives are encoded using something else. Therefore Bitser lets you change encoding by right clicking the archive when its open and selecting Charset then UTF-8 or Windows or DOS. Changing this settings is saved so any archives you open after this either in Bitser or from the context menu will be open using that encoding. If you are working with non-english characters and computers then this may make files readable that otherwise werent. Also you can see the Encoding or Code page value of the open archive by clicking the Info icon and looking next to the type field.. eg. (CP850). Please bear in mind that this feature is still in beta so maybe all the bugs havent been taken out.

 

Reports

Bitser can store a detailed history of all archives created and extracted. The reports created by Bitser show files selected, parameters used, compression statistics and the overall job results. The statistics are also listed in a table to allow comparisons of file sizes and compression ratios. This can be useful in comparing the effect of using different compression parameters against the same data. All reports are listed in the reports tab and can be viewed by simply clicking on them. Each report is stored on disk as a text file with the location specified within the report. These reports can be opened outside of Bitser using a text editor such as WordPad. You can also open the actual archive related to a report by double clicking on the report or by clicking on the open icon in the toolbar. Reporting can be disabled completely by un checking 'Enable reports tab' in the options tab. This means no records of archive operations or jobs will be recorded.

The reports also contain the 7zip command line parameters used for the job. Bitser uses 7zip as its underlying archiving software so you can use these commands with the command line versions of 7zip to create scripts or batch files without using Bitser.

Report files are store in the following folders:

The Report log is stored in:

If you ever need to reinstall Bitser and wish to retain the reports and report log you will need to backup and restore the above folders.

 

Password Manager

Bitser's Password Manager provides a simple way to manage your passwords. You can use it to store your archive or general passwords. Hyperlinks can also be stored along with your passwords in the 'Notes' field. If your type http://www.bitser.org in the notes field it will automatically turn blue and if clicked on will open your default browser and copy the corresponding password to the clipboard. All passwords are saved in a single file with a .bpw extension. The file is encrypted using 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) which has been adopted by the US government to encrypt classified information. AES encryption has not been cracked and is considered secure provided you choose a strong password. Passwords should have a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, digits and symbols and be a minimum of 8 characters in length. Using a password manager gives you the advantage of only having to remember one master password, but it also has some disadvantages (Refer: Password Managers ). Only use a password manager on a pc you trust to be secure and that is kept up-to-date with the latest windows and virus software.

Creating a password file

Bitser's password manager has a very simple interface. To create a new password file simply click the 'new' icon. Enter the destination filename and provide a strong master password to encrypt the file. Click the 'add' button to enter as many new passwords entries as required and click the save icon when finished.

Opening password files

Bitser password files are saved with a .bpw extension. These files are automatically associated with Bitser during installation. Bitser will also remember the last password file used and automatically re-open it then next time you click the passwords tab. Alternatively you can just create a shortcut to your password file on your desktop and launch it whenever you need to get a password. Every time you open a Bitser password file a backup copy is created in the following folder:

The backup copies are kept for 2 weeks and then overwritten. If your password file ever becomes corrupt or you wish to revert to a previously saved version you can use these backups.

Password lockout

After opening a password file, Bitser will automatically lockout access to the passwords after 10 minutes of inactivity. You must re-enter the password or click cancel to close the file.

Copying Passwords

To copy a password to the clipboard simply double click it. You can double click on any cell to copy its contents to the clipboard. The cell will flash green after being successfully copied. You do not need to click the 'show passwords' button to copy the password to the clipboard.

Security Information

An AES encrypted file by itself is secure and cannot be cracked if a strong password has been used. If your PC is secure and does not have any malware, key loggers or viruses installed then you can be confident that your passwords are safe. Password managers can be vulnerable to malware during the act of entering the master password. If there is any malicious software installed on your pc then its possible your master password could be copied either whilst its being entered or directly from the computers memory. Bitser implements some security measures to reduce this risk by encrypting passwords while they are in memory but it cannot guard against sophisticated key-logging software installed on a pc. Generally, if you do not trust a pc then do not use a password manager on it.

 

Options

All of Bitser's options are accessible via the options tab. The options available are listed below

Extract Folder

This option lets you select which folder will be used as the default destination when extracting archives.

Working folder

Bitser needs to use temporary disk storage when an archive is being updated or a file is being opened. Generally when an archive is being updated a new copy of the archive is created in the same directory as the original with the new copy replacing the original upon completion of the updates. On occasion when there is not enough disk space in the original location Bitser will try a list of alternate locations. These are tried in the following order:

Bitser's temporary folders are called 'BitserTempWorking-xxxx ' and are always deleted upon completion of an operation. If you ever come across such a folder whilst working on your pc and Bitser is not running you can safely delete it.

Context Menu

This option adds or removes Bitser from the windows explorer context menu (right click menu). This option requires administrator privileges to be applied successfully. See (context menu) for more details.

Extensions Associations

Extension associations allow you to associate Bitser with any supported archive type. Associating Bitser with a file type means that Bitser will be used to open the file.

General

Lists Bitser's general application options. Some options will not take effect until Bitser is restarted. A detailed description of each option is provided below:

Language

Bitser can display its text in any language. To change the display language simply select the language from the dropdown list and then restart Bitser. Bitser only supports languages for which a translation file has been created. To learn more about translation files see translations.

 

Context Menu

Bitser's context menu allows you to access archiving functions from windows explorer using the right mouse button. You can perform the following tasks from windows explorer:

The context menu can be added or removed from windows explorer using ' Options tab - Context menu' in Bitser. The functions available from the context menu vary depending on the types of files selected. The functions available are listed below.

Add to example.zip

Adds the selected files and folders to a zip archive using the default parameters

Add to example.7z

Adds the selected files and folders to a 7-zip archive using the default parameters

Add to Other

Adds the selected files and folders to a custom archive. A window will open which allows you to set all the parameters of the archive being created including the filename, archive format, compression level and encryption etc..

Add to Separate archives

Each file and folder selected will be added to its own separate archive. This means if you select 5 folders you will end up with 5 archives. Within this item you can also customise the type of archive created.

Extract to this folder

Extract the selected archive item to the current folder

Extract to this folder + \ filename\

Extracts the archive to a new containing folder within the current folder. The folder will be given the same name as the archive.

Extract to Other

Lets you choose which folder to extract the selected archive to.

Extract All to Other

When you select multiple supported archives you have a number of extract options. You can extract them all to a single folder or to their own individual folders. They can be extract within the current folder or to a folder of your choice.

Checksums

Calculates the checksums for all the selected files. You can calculate md5, sha-1 or sha-256 checksums. Any folders included in your selection will be ignored. For a more detailed explanation of what checksums are refer to Managing archives - Archive Checksums

Calculate Folder Sizes

This option becomes available when you select multiple folders in windows explorer. When selected it lists the folders and their size in MBs. This feature can be useful when you are trying to determine which folders are using the most disk space. You can press escape while the folder sizes are being calculated at any time to immediately abort the task.

Delete Empty Subfolders

This options becomes available when only 1 folder has been selected in windows explorer. Bitser will search the selected folder for empty subfolders and list those that are found. You will then be asked if you would like to delete the folders that are were found to be empty. Deleted folder will be sent to the recycle bin. You can press escape at any time to immediately abort the task.

 

 

Translations

Bitser's interface can be translated into any language. All text displayed by Bitser is loaded at startup from text files located in its root directory under "\Resources\Translations\". The default language is English and the default file loaded is "en.txt". If you wish to translate Bitser into another language you must make a copy of this file and save it in the same directory with an alternate filename. For example if you were translating into Spanish you might save it as "es.txt". Once you have made a copy of the file you can then open it and translate every numbered line of text into the desired language. You must also change the line at the beginning of the file labeled "Language=English". For example, Spanish would be "Language=Espanol". Once you have translated and saved the file Bitser will automatically detect it and list the new language in the Options tab under Language. To display the language select it and then restart Bitser. You will need to check that all the translated text fits into Bitser's interface as expected.

If you are proficient in both English and your chosen language and wish to share your translation file with other users feel free to email it to support@bitser.org and it will be included in future releases of Bitser. Some points to remember when creating your translation file.

General Information

Bitser Website: http://www.bitser.org
For all support, questions and comments please email support@bitser.org
Last Update: October 2014