File compressors are a very useful type of application for any PC. Despite the increased storage capacity of hard drives or SSDs, available space can be a problem for many personal computers and this software is especially suitable for this.
And they are not only useful for save space internal storage. Many popular email services, such as Outlook and Gmail, have attachment size limits, and file compressors allow you to send more files in a single email. The same when uploading them to a cloud storage service where there is not enough space available or to share them on direct download sites or torrent networks.
In addition to freeing up space, this type of software also allows better organize files. You can include 10, 100, 1000 in a single compressed file or vice versa, you can divide a large file into smaller ones to be able to store or transmit them on the Internet more efficiently.
Another of its capabilities, less known among the general public, but no less important, is the ability to encrypt these files for safe keeping or sharing. Some allow to automate, customize and schedule compression tasks, functions to transfer files using the FTP protocol directly from the interface, sending by email, direct recording on optical media or connection with cloud storage services.
This type of software must be able to compress or decompress files interchangeably. There are paid and free solutions that support various file formats, including the three most popular ZIP, RAR and TAR. Support for handling formats; the speed when compressing and decompressing; the usability or attractiveness of the interface or the encryption functions, are the main sections that you should assess when choosing an application of this type. We review the most interesting.
Free and open source software is the great reference for those who are looking for an application of this type totally free. It uses its own ‘7z’ file format by default, although it supports others such as ZIP and RAR for both decompression and compression. As with most of the rest, you can unzip RAR archives, but not create them. 7z uses a variety of compression algorithms such as bzip2, LZMA, and LZMA2, has self-extracting capabilities, drag-and-drop support, and a powerful file manager.
7-Zip is available for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems, where it integrates with context menus. It has command line and versions for Linux or macOS. Its interface is not the most intuitive, but if you are looking for free and free file compressors you will not find anything better.
The great classic of the .zip format began as a graphical user interface for PKZIP, but ended up becoming a commercial product for Windows. Under an attractive interface and with a powerful wizard, it offers a lot of the indicated functions: AES 256-bit encryption, direct recording to DVD, thumbnail view, auto extraction, automatic selection of compression, among many others. It handles any feature in ZIP and supports other formats like ARC, ARJ and LZH with external programs. It also supports 7z, TAR and RAR file extraction formats. To highlight its handling also for audio with an improved compression of WAV files.
WinZip offers a free trial for Windows (from Vista to 10), but it is commercial software and is sold in several standard and Pro versions from 36 euros in a single payment. If you use this format a lot, it must be recognized that there is nothing better to handle the ZIP format in Windows.
The big name around the RAR format, a great alternative to the ZIP format, but closed. It offers incredible levels of compression (better than zip), lightning fast speeds when compressing or decompressing, and a pretty good 128-bit AES encryption tool. Besides being the only application capable of creating files in this format, it can handle practically all the others, zip, 7z, TAR, iSO and a long etc. You can also create self-extracting files (EXE) for which no other unzipping software is necessary.
WinRAR is commercial software and is distributed for 64-bit Windows in several versions for personal or professional use from 36 euros with a single payment. A free trial is offered for 40 days, while the UNRAR variant (only to unzip this format) is released for other systems and is integrated or can be installed on GNU / Linux distributions.
A free and open source solution that provides a more attractive and usable interface for the ordinary consumer than the one offered by 7-zip on which it is based due to its free software distribution. It allows you to compress and decompress in 200 formats such as 7z, Tar and Zip, while it can decompress RAR and also compress although for this you have to have WinRAR installed. It implements a powerful and comprehensive file manager for editing, viewing, browsing and searching for files, with a rich set of data security features with strong AES encryption, encrypted password manager, optional two-factor authentication, secure deletion, and hashing tools of files.
PeaZip is available for 32- and 64-bit Windows, Linux, BSD, or ARM. If you are looking for a 7-Zip with a modern and attractive user interface, this application is for you.
B1 Free Archiver
Less known among file compressors, it uses a native open source “B1” format and the application is completely free, although it is proprietary. With an attractive interface (it also works on command line), it allows compressing / decompressing formats such as B1 and Zip, but only decompressing others like RAR. Provides password protected files encrypted with AES 256-bit algorithm.
B1 Free Archiver is available for Windows, macOS and Linux, and it also has an online version.
If usability is important to you, here is a good free option to consider because it has a very well designed interface to welcome first-time users to file compressors. It handles the main formats and has advanced functions such as drag and drop, connection with Cloud services and creation of links to share.
Zip Archiver is only available for Windows, 7, 8, and 10.
Very useful these file compressors and not just to save storage capacity. Keep them handy because you will have to use them sometime since the support integrated in the operating systems can be quite short for average and advanced users.