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Based on the LZ77 algorithm, both LZMA and LZMA2 compression techniques provide an excellent data compression ratio. 7-Zip uses these compression methods to create archives in the 7z format protected with AES-256 encryption, though it supports any compression, conversion, and encryption method. It can also create ZIP, TAR, WIM, GZIP, BZIP2, and XZ archive files, and unpack an even wider range of formats, including RAR, ARJ, ISO, or DMG.
At the top of the list of the open-source data compression tools available, and usually, among the five best archive tools of all kinds (commercial products included), 7-Zip has become one of the most widely used utilities to pack and unpack not only its own archives but also most of the most commonly used ones. Its high speed and its incredible compression ratio, together with its unbeatable price, make it a serious contender to WinZip and WinRAR. ZIP files are not a problem for 7-Zip, which can not only create new ZIP archives but also extract files from them. As for RAR, only WinRAR can create new archives, but 7-Zip can easily unpack or decompress any RAR files. In both cases, 7-Zip can be up to 10 percent faster than any of them.
The program’s interface is probably the part that I like the least, but thanks to the program’s context-menu integration, you won’t be needing it much. Just right-click on any file or set of files and you’ll be able to create 7Z and ZIP files in a snap. Only when you choose any of the “compress and e-mail” options, you’ll be asked to go through a few settings. You can always launch the program’s GUI to tweak the compression settings, split the new archive into smaller volumes, and encrypt it with a password and using the latest AES-256 technology. Extracting files is just as straightforward if you use the context menu’s options.
7-Zip comes with a test option that will help you check the integrity of any supported archive file, and a benchmark tool to assess its performance in terms of compression and decompression speeds and CPU usage. You can also split any existing archive at any time so that it fits your storage requirements or to send it over the Internet more comfortably.
7-Zip is up there among the first five or ten compression tools for a reason – this open-source utility offers you a reliable compression and decompression technology that performs much faster and better than that of many of its competitors. It may not offer you all the little features and functions that others have, and it may lack all the bells and whistles of other more attractive interfaces, but when it comes to dealing with archives, 7-Zip has nothing to envy.
- Excellent compression ratio
- High compression speed
- AES-256 encryption
- Unpacks common archive formats, including RAR
- Creates ZIP files
- Cryptic user interface