Windows

Review: Universal Extractor

If you need a single tool to extract every imaginable archive out there, Universal Extractor has it covered.

When you need a one-size-fits-all solution for extracting compressed archives, Universal Extractor does this well, but don't expect to use it to create the archives in the first place.

System requirements

  • Operating Systems: Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7
  • Cost: Free
  • More Info: Legroom website

Who's it for?

Universal Extractor is for users who want to be able to extract all the different kinds of compressed archive formats that exist, without any hassles.

What problem does it solve?

Rather than downloading multiple programs for different compressed file formats, this program, which is really a collection of many utilities under one banner, improves upon the woefully lacking integrated compressed archive support in Windows.

Standout features

  • Seamless integration into Windows Explorer: When Universal Extractor is installed it adds right-click context-menu options, making archive extractions a snap. No clunky user interfaces to be seen here.
  • Supports every possible compression format: Common file types, such as ZIP, CAB, and RAR as well as XZ, 7Z, and TAR.GZ, are all supported. And quite frankly, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Can handle set-up program bundles: Files contained inside MSI and InstallShield EXE applications can be cracked open and dumped using the deep-scan method.
  • Portable version available: If you want to take the power of Universal Extractor on the go, you can copy the portable version to a thumb drive and take it with you anywhere.

What's wrong?

  • Doesn't create archives: As the name implies, this utility can only extract files; it does not compress them. You will still need to keep other archive utilities handy if you need to modify or add files.
  • Errors can be cryptic: Depending on the archive type, you might not be able to understand why an operation did not complete successfully without reading an error log. This can be a problem should you run into a corrupted or damaged file.

Competitive products

Bottom line

If you need a single tool to extract every imaginable archive out there, Universal Extractor has you covered completely. However, the lack of any ability to create archives could be a deal breaker for some.

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

10 comments
roystreet
roystreet

I've used this to extract files from a .exe file & it worked great! I don't recall using it for anything else. In fact, that is the main reason I've use it for. -roystreet

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

Every possible compression format? BS. There are some specialized CAB files that it won't open.

$ed1966
$ed1966

With this utility you can extract many more formats. Like .exe files, msi installers, setup files so you can extract the content of a installer

shahdan
shahdan

I keep both of the tools(portable version and installer) in my 'Must have tools' folder..

jason.deyalsingh
jason.deyalsingh

never had a reason to use anything other than 7-zip. Also "every possible compression format" is a pretty big claim...can it process paq? :P

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

So the built-in pretty much stinks for any formats other than .zip. WinRAR does everything I need on a daily basis. For special occasions, I use 7Zip.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What tool do you use for extracting compressed files? Is the built-in Windows tools enough for you or do you need something more?

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

I was actually able to extract data out of some InstallShield-specific cabinet files from an older installer without incident. Why don't you try the software first before slamming it?