The simplest method for creating and extracting compressed file archives
With the ability to deal with different compression file formats, the best file compression tools can make it quick and fast to compress files for safe storage.
Sharing and archiving files is simple with the right file compression tools. Since hard discs are becoming larger incapacity, the need to compress files while saving data has decreased. Nevertheless, SDDs do cost considerably more per gigabyte than conventional rotating hard drives, so compressing files can still be very useful.
Compression is also useful when sending multiple files via email while keeping the attachment size limit, sharing them via a service like WeTransfer, or sending them to a remote cloud server.
Not just that, but compression software has a plethora of additional functionality to include in addition to reducing file sizes. Maybe the most useful function of compression software is the ability to encrypt files and secure them with a password, which is included with all of the tools we’ve chosen.
ZIP is the most widely used compression format, although there are many others. You never know which type you’ll run into while copying and transferring files, so it’s a good idea to have a program that can manage several types on hand. Here, we look at a list of the best resources, including those with the maximum compression rates and those that allow the most file formats.
The original and best file compression tool
WinZip, one of the most well-known names in the field of tech utilities, is still going strong after nearly 30 years and remains one of the strongest file compression applications available.
However, you can wonder if you can justify paying for a compression tool when there are so many free alternatives. In the end, it comes down to your preferences, but you do get a lot of extras for your dollars.
In addition to supporting a wide variety of archive formats (including ZIP, ZIPX, RAR (extraction only), 7z, TAR, GZIP, VHD, and XZ), WinZip integrates with a number of applications, including Microsoft Office, for fast zipping while working.
Other extras include the ability to slice massive zip files to suit various media, sophisticated file-sharing options, cloud support, and a zip management system that rivals Windows Explorer. The interface adapts to mouse and keyboard configurations or touchscreen devices, and recovery and encryption features are included to keep your files secure.
WinZip is an extremely handy tool to have in the tech arsenal, and it’s versatile enough to function in the manner that works better for you – you can generate and uninstall files using the program interface or the program window.
- Read our full WinZip review.
The best file compression software for RAR files
In some circles, WinRAR is as well-known as WinZip because of its patented RAR format, which provides impressive amounts of compression. RAR archives can be extracted by most compression programs, but only WinRAR can (officially) build them. This exclusivity comes at a cost comparable to WinZip.
Of necessity, WinRAR can be used to compress files into a variety of other compressed formats, and the software benefits from being available on almost any device imaginable.
The interface isn’t very appealing, and even though you use the Explorer context menu to build or remove archives, newcomers can be intimidated by the sheer amount of choices and settings available. Having said that, there is a wizard mode that automates most activities.
WinRAR’s killer feature is undeniably full RAR support, but its encryption, speed, self-extracting archive construction, and themes (if you’re into that sort of thing!) make the trial version well worth checking out to see if this is the compression tool for you.
- Read our full WinRAR review.
The best free file compression software
7-Zip, the first free selection in this roundup, is another software with a stellar reputation. It can support almost every compressed file format you throw at it.
7-Zip is a true stalwart of the compression community, with its own compressed file format, 7z. This not only allows you to compact very large files (up to 16 billion gigabytes, according to its developers), but it also has an extremely high compression rate. However, this comes at the expense of speed; 7z can use solid compression’ to reach tiny file sizes, but it can be extremely sluggish.
The interface of 7-Zip is unappealing, and the number of context menu entries created by the software can be unsettling. Fortunately, once you go through Options inside the app, you’ll find that it’s simple to remove the options you don’t like.
This file compression software’s appearance isn’t for everybody, but if you can get through that, you’ll have a rock-solid and dependable utility on your side.
- Read our full 7-Zip review.
4. Zip Archiver
Best for advanced file compression
Zip Archiver may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about file compression software, but it has a sizable fan base due to its thoughtfully crafted interface, excellent format support, and the fact that it is completely free.
What makes this software fascinating is how easy it is to use. Those who are unfamiliar with the concepts of file compression and decompression should find it simple to obtain the desired effects.
Creating and extracting archives to a variety of formats is as easy as dragging and dropping, and cloud compatibility is an added bonus. This means that you can create a compressed file, upload it to Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, and have a shareable connection created automatically in a single fast, and simple process. This is an excellent tool for compressing files in order to share them. If you don’t like the drag-and-drop interface, you can still use the Windows context menu to do anything – the option is yours. There are several compressed file formats, but Zip Archiver supports them all. The only disadvantage is that Zip Archiver is only available for Windows computers.
- Read our full Zip Archiver review.
Best free file compression tool for Linux
Another free compression tool, PeaZip (for Windows and Linux), is simple in appearance but shockingly efficient, with numerous security options.
In addition to standard compression and decompression options, PeaZip can transform archives between formats. For those concerned about confidentiality, this file compression programme includes AES256-based encryption, two-factor authentication, and a password manager.
You can use the main programme interface, as with the other compression tools in this roundup, or you can fall back in love with the right mouse button and use the context menu.
PeaZip is a compression utility that can both generate and remove RAR files. If you have WinRAR enabled (either the full version or the trial version), PeaZip will use it to get full RAR support. While no error alert will be posted, you can not use WinRAR after the trial duration has expired, either on its own or via PeaZip.
- Read our full PeaZip review.