We all know that WinRAR and WinZip are the best file compression solutions on the market. But they comes at a price. Good news is that they have a free alternative. 7-Zip is a free archive tool for Windows that packs and unpacks a wide range of compressed container formats. The utility comes with a powerful file manager as well as with a command line version. Even though there are no official releases of 7-Zip for other platforms, its command line version named p7zip is available for Linux and Mac.
Main features and supported formats
The tool creates 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2, and TAR archives and unpacks RAR, CAB, ISO, ARJ, LZH, CHM, MSI, WIM, Z, and several other package types. Moreover, archives in 7z format have rather high compression ratio and take up significantly less storage space than files compressed into other formats. This compression type supports splitting of large files into smaller ones so they can be sent via e-mail or stored on USB drives of particular size.
7-Zip can create self-extracting archives, secure 7z and ZIP files with AES 256-bit encryption, and allows you to protect your packages with a password. The software integrates to shell context menu, which makes file navigation easier.
Disadvantages and alternatives
Even though 7-Zip can work with over 30 formats, it cannot create popular RAR archives and may not be able to extract files in some propriety formats. In addition, the tool consumes vast amounts of memory when compressing files into 7z archives. The most popular alternatives of 7-Zip are WinRAR, WinZip, PeaZip, and Bandizip.
7-Zip is an open-source utility that extracts compressed files and creates archives in multiple formats. It has several advantages that outweigh a couple of downsides and comes as a good alternative to commercial software like WinRAR and WinZip.