Big Data

Five user-friendly archiving and compression tools

You're not stuck using the built-in archiving/compression app that comes with your OS. Here are a few alternatives to consider.

Where would we be without archiving and compression tools? We'd be knee deep in full drives and unable to pass along folders as easily as we can. Archiving is deeply embedded in the world of the PC, making it an indispensable tool.

Now most platforms have their own built-in tools for archiving and compressing. But in some cases, those tools aren't enough. So it's good to know that there are other applications to pick up the slack. Some of those applications are familiar and some are not. Let's dive in and examine several of these, so you can enjoy an alternative archiving and/or compression tool.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: 7-Zip

7-Zip (Figure A) is one of the best of the free archiving/compression tools available across platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac). Not only is 7-Zip free, it's also open source and offers every feature you could want. 7-Zip supports the 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, and WIM formats for packing/unpacking and ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR, and Z for packing only. 7-Zip also includes encryption utilities for compression.

Figure A


2: PeaZip

PeaZip (Figure B) is another free tool that offers plenty of features and an easy-to-use GUI. It supports more than 150 file formats. PeaZip also offers strong encryption, two-factor authentication, an encrypted password manager, secure deletion, a duplicate finder, the ability to save backup scripts, and much more. Once you've installed it, you'll notice seamless Explorer integration. PeaZip actually borrows some of the technology from 7 Zip.

Figure B


3: WinRAR

WinRAR (Figure C) is an archive manager that can also serve as a data backup tool (though you shouldn't depend on such a tool for critical backups). WinRAR is the only non-free tool on this list. This particular archiving application will set you back around $21.00 USD per license (with breaks for bulk licensing purchases). See this page for more details.

Figure C


4: File Roller

File Roller (Figure D) is the official archiving tool for the GNOME desktop. File Roller supports numerous formats, has a great GUI, integrates into the Nautlius file manager, and can even work with ISO images and installation packages (such as .rpm and .deb). This manager is free and comes preinstalled on any GNOME-based Linux distribution.

Figure D

File Roller

5: Ark

Ark (Figure E) is the default archiving tool for the KDE destkop. With Ark, archives can be viewed, extracted, created, and modified. Ark can handle numerous formats, such as tar, gzip, bzip2, zip, rar, and lha. It offers seamless integration with the default KDE file manager, Konqueror. (Just install the Konqueror Integration plugin available in the kdeaddons package.)

Figure E


Easy and reliable

Anyone who has used archiving and compression tools extensively knows that a good, reliable tool can make the task much more efficient. The tools listed here are some of the best and easiest to use, for any level of aptitude. If you're unhappy with the tool you have, give one of these a try. You'll find one that does the job exactly as you need it.

Other favorites?

Do you have a different go-to archiving/compression tool? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


Hi, I've been using 7-Zip for a few years now. Overall I'm satisfied, it's a powerful program. However, 2 things bug me. First, I dislike the way that file sizes are displayed. For example, if a file size is 101KB, it will be listed in 7-Zip as "103 424" (just like that, with a space in the middle). Second, I cannot figure out how, when extracting a .zip file that includes multiple folders, to extract it from *within* 7-Zip so that the folders get created and the files get extracted to their correct folders. This would seem to me to be a basic function of such a program. Instead, all the files get extracted to the same destination folder, and that causes problems if there are multiples files with the same name that were originally in different folders. The only way I can see to extract files to their correct folders is to *not* double-click on the file, but instead to right-click on the file, and choose "extract files..." from the 7-Zip context menu. -Michael


I like 7-Zip, light and handy. Also winrar. My experience is that .7z and .rar gives the best compression ratios.


Free, handy, reliable. Filzip. No, I get nothing from them.


THink you might have made a mistake on the write up.


It looks like these people who are recommending IZArc are from Babylon, advertising for IZArc. The program installs Babylon bar, changes the home page, changes the default search engine, and attempts to installs other CrapWare, even when you uncheck all the buttons, and tell it NO. Not worth bothering with this program. Get 7-Zip, or buy WinRar. WinRar is the best in my opinion. I HATE Babylon for doing this. Thanks to Revo Uninstaller to root out every trace of Babylon on my machines, followed by a search, and a registry search to make sure not a trace of Babylon has remained. Keep it up Babylon. Ever heard of the word "ethics"? ... I guess not. Installing an IE bar, changing my home page, changing my default search engine without my permission will never help your business. It only makes me hate you. Your behavior is a great way to lose potential customers, and die a slow death!


Well, what can I say. Another vote for Izarc. Been using it for 5 years and I love it. I have deployed it to all our PCs and have never heard a complain about it.


I use IZArc. I haven't had any problems with it.


It doesn't install it on my PC. Are you sure you read the installer buttons/instructions correctly? I have come across a few installers where the buttons are swapped around, so if you just click through the installer, without reading what the buttons say, it will install crapware on your machine. Instead of "Continue" and "Back" they often have "Accept" or "Decline". Babylon? The name sounds vaguely familiar. I don't work for them or receive any payments from them. Do you receive payments from 7-Zip and/or WinRar? To protect yourself from crapware, [b]before installing anything[/b]: - Create a System Restore Point. - Better yet, create a backup HDD image.


I second that for IZArc, been using it for years, IMO it is better than 7-Zip, WinRAR, and even WinZip.

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