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.