No matter how powerful your computer is and how many room there is on your hard drive be sure you still need an archiver. Because as soon as you open your email and decide to email a batch of files you’ll realize that sending them as they are will require you to attach every file one by one. After that you will have no choice but to resort to using an archiver. And not only after that. Whether you want to protect your data with password or open an archive which you have received from someone you will still need some tool. And here it is once again. No matter how rich you are and how often you light a cigar with a banknote it is still a sheer waste of money to pay for commercial archivers if there are plenty free tools on the market which will do the job for you. So in the name of sanity and good sense we’ve come up with an overview of top 10 free archivers with all their goods and bads.
1. 7zip (Windows)
7zip remains one of the most prominent compression tools who stepped on a thorny path of being a free compression software for everyone. 7zip supports most popular formats (like ZIP, 7z, RAR, ARJ, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR) and has proved itself to to be fast and really effective. With the help of 7zip you can create self-extracting archives – you just pack files and can send them even to someone who doesn’t have any compression software installed on his computer. Geeky lads will appreciate plugins for Total Commander and FAR Manager. However, 7zip has one very noticeable drawback – its interface looks like some crazy programmer’s paradize. So if you really don’t want nothing more from the software but just a 1 minute interaction when you need it – prepare to fight.
2. B1 Free Archiver (Windows, Linux, Mac and Android)
B1 Free Archiver is a relatively new piece on a great checkerboard of free archivers but continues to make its way towards checkmate, especially with its Android version. B1 pleases us with its online archiver which unpacks your files without any registration or capcha and automatically deletes your files in an hour in case you forget to do it yourself. B1 Free Archiver works with most popular formats as well as with its own B1 format. Unlike its preceding colleague it has exceptionally friendly user interface and is very handy – most actions are performed in 2-3 clicks. B1 has localizations to most popular languages. Its high speed is achieved due to “Smart” compression mode which chooses the best method of compression for each piece of data depending on its type. The “cons” part of the archiver is that it can create archives only in ZIP and B1 formats, which is enough for most users though.
3. BandiZIP (Windows, Mac OS (10.6 or later)
BandiZIP is also quite popular among free software admirers and unlike most other compression utilities it offers a nice portable version of its archiver. This means you can carry BandiZIP along with you on any portable device and use it on any computer without installing it. BandiZIP unpacks around 30 file formats (among them RAR, ZIP, 7Z, TGZ, etc.) while packs only 6. Following the pace of 7zip its “Settings” window is stuffed with checkboxes and tabs which offer you lots of choice meanwhile making you think too much. However if you are the one who knows exactly what he wants from the software you will appreciate BandiZIP benevolent intentions towards better customization. For example, users can manually choose to use multi-core processor function to increase compression speed on their own. They practically can choose everything if they are familiar with terminology.
4. FreeArc (Windows and Linux)
FreeArc is an open source project distributed under GNU General Public License. FreeArc doesn’t yield to none of its competitors in speed or efficiency. Software authors proudly speak of their smart file sorting technology which they call a key success of FreeArc high speed. FreeArc can also create self extracting archives. Moreover, it tests archives before and after any operation which saves your time by not allowing the software to unpack or pack files which cannot go through that operation by definition. The program can also choose files by their size, time of creation, name and attributes. So practically FreeArc could be almost perfect. Unfortunately archiver’s market is too real to be a fairy tale. FreeArc’s weakness lies within its really poor design and interface in general.
5. HaoZip (Windows)
HaoZip archiver doesn’t get tired of telling everyone about its enormous popularity in China. So now it’s kind of expanding its market. Whether it’s true or not, HaoZip indeed copes with all basic archiving functions. It supports compression into 7z, zip and tar formats, decompresses archives of practically all popular formats – RAR, ISO, JAR, lZH, etc. HaoZip can create multi-volume and self-extracted archives (only when using 7z algorithm). The archiver has a built-in image viewer and image converter which means you don’t need any image-viewing software on your computer to see images in archives. HaoZip has custom skin support which you can enjoy to the full only if you are connected to Internet though. Here we are approaching a traditional “bad” part: a lot of declared features are available only through connection to Internet, the program also automatically connects to developer’s site when you install or uninstall the program.
6. IZArc (Windows)
IZArc has its popularity share already, it supports many formats including the most popular ZIP, RAR, GZIP, BZIP2, 7z, etc. The archiver can also open CD image files (ISO, BIN, CDI and NRG). You can archive any type of data and encrypt archives with the help of one of 4 encryption algorithms the program offers (provided you know the difference between them all, of course). Another pleasant feature of IZarc is that it can convert archived files from one format to another. It means you don’t need to unpack an archive in order to pack it again in desired format. According to the software authors you can configure IZarc so that each time you open an archive the antivirus scanner will scan the files in an archive. You can choose the antivirus scanner according to your taste. But without antivirus installed on your computer the antivirus scanning function doesn’t work.
7. jZip (Windows)
jZip archiver provides complete support for the work (archive creation, opening and unpacking) with Zip, TAR, GZip and 7-Zip archives. It can also open and unpack RAR and ISO archives. The program is fully compatible with archives created by other utilities such as WinZip, WinRar and 7zip. What is the most surprising in jZip is that it has a version for Symbian OS – it unpacks zip archives on smartphones which work under UIQ. jZip for Symbian is able to perform practically all necessary functions with zip archives: it can open archives, create new ones, add files (with path name) or whole folders, extract files one by one or all together and delete from archive. After such a nice and exotic feature we are persistently getting to our fly in the ointment: you should be really cautious when downloading jZip. As there are a lot of complaints out there as for malware install together with the program.
8. PeaZip (Windows, Linux)
PeaZip is a cute compression software with a witty name. It works with many formats including 7z, ARC, BZ2, GZ, PEA, etc. Just like BandiZip it pleases its users with a portable version. PeaZip can also act as a graphic frontend for other archivers though the intent of this feature is hardly understandable. PeaZip supports data encryption, creation of multi-volume archives, works with several archives at once and is available in console. The program has its own Pea format which supports compression of multi-volume archives and modern encryption system as well as integrity control. However beware of the fact that it requires special attention during installation process. PeaZip default installation settings lead to installation of AVG Security Toolbar and change your homepage and search functions to AVG Secure Search.
9. TugZip (Windows)
TugZip is rather an effective tool and a worthy competitor to other archivers considering the fact that its author stopped developing his brainchild back in 2008. That looks like a really sad story aggravated by the fact that the author’s official website is all solemn and black. However people still download TugZip which means its developer was rather long-sighted to compete with its future young and modern rivals. TugZip supports a variety of archive formats (ZIP, 7-ZIP, RAR, TGZ, TAZ) and CD images (BIN, C2D, IMG, ISO and NRG). It is also able to create self-extracting and encrypted archives. TugZip claims it provides ZIP damaged files recovery which is not as much about recovery of something which is completely broken but the possibility to bypass broken parts of an archive and unpack those parts which are possible to unpack. TugZip has a multilingual interface with a decent choice of languages. As for weak points it’s rather clear from what has been already said – the program development of which stopped 5 years ago cannot provide any timely help or customer support .
10. zip Genius (Windows)
The last but not the least is zip Genius – compression tool which works with more than 20 compression formats including RAR, ZIP, ACE and 7z. It provides 5 levels of compression, integrates completely with Windows Explorer, has its own FTP-client. zip Genius flawlessly creates self-extracting exe-files, enables the preview of graphics contained in an archive just as its HaoZip colleague. ZipGenius is not worse than others in providing secure data encryption, creation of backup copies, etc. Has a built-in FTP-client. But every user’s smile may fade away as he turns the program down and than sees multiple and really unnecessary shortcuts the program left on his desktop. Actually those are the most exotic shortcuts one may ever come across – like “Follow zip Genius on Facebook”, “Follow zip Genius on Google+” and so on. So harness your willpower and be ready to fight against intrusive nature of the software. If you do, it won’t disappoint you.
You’ll hardly find any software – be it an archiver or anything else – that could be absolutely good, though its not so hard to run across absolute crapware. The point is you should think on your own what features are the most important for you and thus make your choice basing on it. If you are an advanced user who is never frightened away by rough-and-ready interface and unpretentious software design – you can bravely opt for such compression tools as 7-zip or FreeArc. The users who like challenges posed by malware which they can get when downloading some software can go for PeaZip or jZip. Those who like to use the same archiving utility on several devices will find B1 Free Archiver very useful. Free compression tool market of today can offer choice for practically everyone.