Windows comes with a utility called WinZip built in. Chances are you’ve probably used it without realising it. WinZip allows you to create and open files in the ZIP format. A lot of files that you download from the internet will come in ZIP files. This is because zip files compress everything inside down and make the file size smaller, allowing for quicker transfer and less usage of disk space.
However, WinZip isn’t the only compression utility out there. There are others available to download, some free and some paid, that might offer a better feature set for your needs. This article will explore the alternatives, allowing you to check them out and see if you prefer using them.
WinRAR is a very easy to use piece of software. It’s lightweight and lets you get straight down to what’s important. The name comes from its use of the RAR format, which apparently has a compression ratio of 8 to 15 percent better than a ZIP. The software can also handle a vast number of other archive formats: ZIP, ISO, JAR, BZ2 and ACE are all supported here.
When you download WinRAR from their website, you’ll notice that the software bills itself as being a “trial”. Indeed, 40 days after using it, you’ll get a pop up message telling you that “WinRAR is not free software” and that you “must either buy a license or remove it from your computer”. The odd thing is you can simply close this message and carry on using the software as normal, providing you don’t mind that message popping up each time you use WinRAR. Of course, if it has been really helpful to you, consider paying the €29.95 to buy a single license.
7-Zip is an entirely free program that plays host to its own archive format. No prizes here for guessing said format is the 7Z. Although compression with 7-Zip does take longer than WinZip, the archives are up to 40 percent smaller. Built up over a number of archives, that’s a significant saving of file space.
The program can also handle other formats, including ZIP, TAR and GZ. The program also lets you encrypt your files and to adjust the compression level – all handy features, especially when it comes to backing up your files.
While perhaps not the fanciest looking program, it gets the job done and it gets it done well.
PeaZip offers an easy to use interface and is probably the best looking program out of the bunch. Not only that, but it can handle the above program’s RAR and 7Z formats, along with TAR, ZIP and ZIPX archives (that’s just a selection – there are over 150 file types supported in total).
The program is available to download for free and supports a variety of Windows operating systems, along with Linux. Although in some tests it doesn’t perform as well as other programs, it is a stable and functional program that offers a good looking utility for every user.
Alternatives to Windows Zip Files
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