In a market where WinZip and WinRAR act as if they had the exclusive on file compression, 7-Zip offers you an open-source solution with all the main features present in those two competitors, with the same support for all the most common archive file formats (ZIP and RAR included), and none of the drawbacks associated to a price tag.
If we considered that data compression, context menu integration, password protection, support for multiple volumes, self extraction, file repairing, batch conversion, the inclusion of Unicode file and directory names, archive encryption, and filename encryption are the ten most relevant features that define a good compression software tool, we must say that 7-Zip performs in nine of them with excellence.
Due to its lack of file repairing capabilities, this free and open tool is but one step behind the two main leaders in this field. With periodical biannual major revisions, 7-Zip is constantly improving its performance – the version used for this review includes support for multi-volume ZIP archives, which the program couldn’t extract before.
On the interface side, without being the most innovative archive tool, 7-Zip is intuitive enough. It provides you with useful information about the properties of the compressed file, about your folders history, and the resources used in the compression and decompression routines, among others. As said, on the functionality side, 7-Zip can extract and create multi-volume archives, split by size, disc type, etc., and add AES-256 encryption to your 7z and ZIP archive files. LZMA and its LZ77 algorithm (7z’s open-source native compression method) offer the user a high compression ratio and unbeatable compression and decompression speeds, thanks to its multi-threading support. It takes very few of your system’s resources and requires but a 5-KB code size for decompressing.
7-Zip is an excellent alternative to commercial products that differ very little from it in terms of functionality. It produces high-quality results fast and without clogging your system. It is updated regularly, incorporating useful features in every new release, and – best of all – it is absolutely free.