Sooner or later you’re going to need one. A free zip program. The good news is: free zip software is available as open source software, so you can download and install your free zip extractor and be up and running in minutes.
Maybe you’ve already heard about WinZip or WinRAR. While both programs work well and will do the job, you have to buy a license in order to keep using them after the trial period.
Many people don’t realize that they can get a good zip utility at no cost, because the commercial versions such as WinRAR and WinZip are so widespread and have “penetrated” the computer user community so heavily.
7-Zip is a great open source free zip software that you can download from 7-zip.org
One of the first questions we always hear when we bring to people’s attention that there’s a free win zip program available via the open source model, is whether or not there are limitations or disadvantages when using a free versus a paid utility.
There are no disadvantages.
7-Zip can handle all the file compression formats that the commercial, paid programs can handle, and on many occasions the file compression ratio is even higher with this free zip extractor.
This free zip program works with its own .7z file archive format, but it can also deal with other file types such as 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.
If you ask around or check systems administrator forums on the internet, you will find that many systems administrators nowadays work with and rely on 7zip as their zip utility of choice. You won’t have to search long to find rather negative comments about the commercial packages or IT-guys talking down to less-savvy computer users who are naïve enough to be lured in by the commercial file archiver programs.
Why do people pay for zip archiver software when there is a free alternative available? Well, first of all, there used to be a time when WinZip was free. In the early days, you could just download this free zip program and start archiving and unzipping right away.
WinZip and also WinRAR became so popular and widely adopted and commercial interest started to play a role.
Nowadays, not only do you have to pay to get a working copy of WinZip or WinRAR, but also you will have to proceed very carefully when installing your copy. If you don’t pay attention during setup, you will end up with an unsolicited AVG Security toolbar added to your internet browser, your internet starting page hijacked and your default search provider changed to AVG search. The screenshot below illustrates how you have to watch out for these installation options. By leaving these options checked, you are actually giving the setup program permission to mess with your internet start page, default search provider and internet browser tollbar behaviour. I think you should be the one who decides what happens with your computer settings, not the strategists behind your file archiving utility.
Many people ask how 7-Zip can offer a completely free zip program with all the functionality that you will ever need. Well, 7-Zip is an open source initiative. This means that users and developers are allowed to change code and improve the software. That is the idea of free software.
You will find a "donate" button on 7-Zip's website, where you can offer a donation in order to support the development of this free zip program.
Different providers of archiving software will also slap you around the ears with claims of the most impressive compression ratios and archiving speed. We can start debating about hyper threading, number of megabytes per second processed and same or separate spinning disks, but unless you’re archiving really big archives (several gigabytes or more) on a daily basis, I don’t see why you should lose sleep over these numbers. If you’re a normal home user who wants to be able to zip or unzip a file every now and then, you won’t notice much difference in terms of performance between 7-Zip or WinZip or WinRAR. You will find sources on the internet that state that 7-Zip’s legacy file format (.7z) offers the best compression ratio, but you will of course also find other sources that state that WinRAR or WinZip offer better compression levels and performance. It all depends on the source.
Should we perform extensive tests with different file types and hardware setups? Should we set up an experiment to see how many microseconds WinRAR performs faster on a PC with an Intel CPU versus 7-Zip on an AMD platform?
Life’s too short.
If you’re here to learn where and how to get your hands on a free zip program so you can zip or extract a few files and share them with your friends, I hope we were able to bring a nice zip utility under your attention. The microseconds and endless compression level comparisons in different setups have their place elsewhere on the web.
In conclusion I would like to point out one last thing about compatibility. If you are sharing file archives with others, you might want to use 7-Zip’s setting to produce .zip files instead of 7-zip’s own .7z format, because users of older versions of other file compression programs might not be able to open .7z archive files.
You, on the other hand, don’t need to worry about compatibility issues if you’ve installed 7-Zip’s free zip program on your computer, because 7-zip will happily open up WinZip and WinRAR archive file formats.