Speeding up CorelDRAW X4 Opening and Saving

April 12, 2008

Ever since CorelDRAW X4 was released there have been comments from a small percentage of users about how the speed of opening and saving files had decreased quite a bit from previous versions. I’ll describe what is causing the slowdowns for these users and also give you some ways to speed things back up. I can’t guarantee this will solve the problem for everyone, but it should help the majority of users.

Let’s start by reminding everyone about a major change to the CorelDRAW file format. Starting with CorelDRAW X4, CDR files are simply ZIP-compressed files renamed with the CDR extension. Those who want to peek inside can certainly rename their files with a ZIP extension (please do this on a copy of your file) and unzip the file to see the various parts. Why change to ZIP compression? I can only guess the true reason though it isn’t hard to make some logical guesses. First, Corel Corporation also own the WinZip program so they have the technology in house to use ZIP compression. It is also a very common compression format and it is always good to follow standards when possible.

This means that anytime you open a CorelDRAW X4 file it will have to be unzipped and anytime you save it will have to be zipped. The larger the file, the more processor time it will take for these operations. By default, all previous versions would also compress files using a different compression format. Therefore you should see very little, if any, difference in save times if you used the default settings. Some users would turn off compression in previous versions to get the fastest possible save times. That just isn’t possible in CorelDRAW X4 as all files use ZIP compression. In the Advanced portion of the Save dialog box, you can turn off compression for the internal parts of the file. This may speed things up a bit, but the file will still be compressed in the end. Unless you are saving very large files (over 100 MB), I don’t think you will notice any significant speed difference.

When opening files, the ZIP file will be uncompressed. This also takes time, though again it shouldn’t be any different from previous versions since they were also compressed for the vast majority of users. Those few who turned off compression may have seen a slight speed increase. If you have seen a large slowdown in opening files, the source of the problem is most likely not the compression. It is probably your anti-virus software scanning every CDR file when you attempt to open it. The reason for this is because the anti-virus software notices it is a ZIP file in disguise and is worried that it might have some unwelcome contents. Go into your anti-virus software and tell it to not process CDR files. Each anti-virus software is different so I can’t provide you the exact steps to do this. I personally use the Zone Alarm Security Suite and I haven’t noticed that it has any effect on CorelDRAW X4 files. If you are looking for security software, you can save $20 when you download ZoneAlarm Security Suite today.

There are certainly some things that we can hope Corel will implement in future versions of CorelDRAW. Right now CorelDRAW will only use a single processor core to compress and decompress files. Many users have computers with two or more processor cores. If they could re-write the code for compressing and decompressing to use all available processor cores, the speed of those processes would increase with each core you have on your computer. This definitely won’t be something that happens in a service pack for CorelDRAW X4, it is just wishful thinking for future versions. While I don’t know the WinZip technology well, I don’t believe it uses multiple cores either. So if Corel develops the technology to do this for WinZip, it should be fairly easy to use it for CorelDRAW as well.

Hopefully the processes described above will help you to get as much speed as possible when opening and saving files in CorelDRAW X4. And we’ll all keep our fingers crossed that the software can be coded to be even faster in the future!

Post Discussion

1 Comment

  1. Gerard Metrailler

    One of the main reasons for the CDR format to evolve into a Zip file containing various files (also known as a packaged file format) with X4 is to support enhanced indexing capabilities (storage of the metadata) as well as the high-resolution thumbnails. This enables the operating system to get the information it needs from the same file. It also enables the file size to be reduced on the hard drive in most situations, so that when you need to share the file with someone else online, it will get transmitted faster. Many other applications use the same method these days.

    As a side note, and as you mention WinZip, if you use advanced compressions formats from that Corel product, you will be able to compress the file further. The Zip compression used by the CDR format (and CPT) is the basic one that the OS understands.



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