Your Favorite File Compression Tool on Windows

One thing that always amazed me was how WinZip managed to maintain it’s shareware status after Windows XP included zip functionality in the explorer interface. I always figured that WinZip business model of nagging you untill you pay would crumple down after people would realize they can open zip files out of the box.

This however did not happen. WinZip is still around, it’s still churning out new versions, and each of them has a more annoying nag screen than the previous one. Why do I know this? Because WinZip is one of the packages we absolutely must install on company laptops. If we don’t, people call the help-desk and complain or go out and install it. I’m not sure what it is – I’m guessing it might be the convenience of having the additional options in the context menu. But several alternative products do the same – and yet when we tried installing them, users still went out and got WinZip. Brand loyalty perhaps?

Whatever it is, WinZip’s strategy seems to be working and we are paying them money. We might as well be throwing the money out the window, but oh well. I guess this is yet another example where customers choose the expensive alternative over the free one because, oh I don’t know – that’s what they are used to or something.

Personally, I’m a WinRar person. Yeah, yeah – I know. It’s not free or open either, but it does the trick for me. It supports both Rar and Zip compression, and can extract data from almost any format out there – including tar, gz, bz2, the native Mac compression compression formats, and even iso. Oh, and no nag screens – even if you don’t pay. I always end up installing it on my personal windows systems.

I also use 7zip, mainly because it is a good and open compression scheme, and there are increasing numbers of people who use it. Still, WinRar is my primary tool.

What is your favorite file compression tool on Windows? Do you use the built in Zip functionality? Are you a WinZip person? 7zip guy? Let me know!

Favorite windows compression tool:
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If you picked “other” let me know what it is in the comments. :) Also, what WinZip alternative would you recommend for commercial use? What does your company use? Are you paying for WinZip like we do, or perhaps your IT found a way to ween the user base off that expensive habit?

[tags]windows, windows compression, file compression, compression, winzip, zip, winrar, rar, 7zip, tar, gz, bzip2[/tags]

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12 Responses to Your Favorite File Compression Tool on Windows

  1. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Ubuntu Linux says:

    I hate that “business model of nagging you until you pay” because lets face it I AIN’T gonna ever pay. I’d be far more likely to crack it or hack into it and remove the nag screen than to pay. Of course first i would look for a free program, but anyway I guess WinZip has became something like a standard in windows. I used to like it but these days I’m a 7zip guy. It works and it is free, handles most of my needs. It is also open source and while i have never looked at its source code i always appreciate having the option.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Well, open source not only gives you many benefits. One of them is choice – if you don’t like the UI of the original 7zip you are free to choose one of it’s forks. Also, if the 7zip developers decide to close shop tomorrow you won’t be left out in the cold, as someone out there will likely pick up the slack and continue development and maintenance.

    Btw, rar is proprietary, but the un-raring process has been well documented and open sourced. So while the format may one day die along with it’s parent company, we will always be able get files out of rar archives using open source unrarring tools.

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  3. Fr3d UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    For a business I’d recommend WinRAR, as (so far) I haven’t found anything it can’t open :)

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  4. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    WinRar has always been my choice. I used to use rar.exe command line tool during DOS and Windows 3.11 times and I just loved its compression rates, and features (plus the IU introduced for DOS later was great!)

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  5. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Solaris Terminalist says:

    I always liked WinZip. People are familiar with it so there is little support needed by me. I also like the self-extracting executable method. I still have Win2K users that need files occasionally. WinZip also does winders with all my *nix collections (.tgz, .tar, .gz, .bz2).

    I grew-up on pkzip, so WinZip in natural for me.

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  6. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Ubuntu Linux says:

    Ditto on the open source stuff Luke!

    “I grew-up on pkzip, so WinZip in natural for me.”

    Yep you and me both Craig. Still a little nervous unless i have pkzip and unzip floating around somehwhere on my dos/win machines.

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I remember using ARJ in addition to pkzip. Tons of games obtained via less than legal ways (ie. copied from a guy who copied it from the guy who had a modem and knew how to get on this awesome BBS) were packed with arj. :mrgreen:

    Oh, and the self extracting packages are of limited use in office environment because Outlook will block them by default. So whatever convenience you gain by not requiring them to have a winzip installed used to be lost explaining how to un-block the files in Outlook.

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  8. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I’ve been with 7z since before it supported rar, ace, and other formats. It does everything I need: multi archive support, command line parameters, and it has terrific compression options (break into sizes, depth of compression, mode of compression).

    That said I’ve used IZarc (it was on the school computers for a time) and it reminded me of winrar. It doesn’t really do anything winrar doesn’t, so no reason to change if you’re on winrar already, but it is a pretty good non-nagware version of winrar.

    I know a few Mac users that, when using Windows, are lost without Stuff-it. Kind of surprising given OSX can also read zip folders just fine without stuff-it, but for some reason S-IT is pretty Mac standard. Anyhow, from what I’ve seen it is another pretty good Windows compression program out there.

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  9. Obed UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    For years I was a WinZip slave until Izarc freed me. Once I discovered that there’s no need to go broke to afford the computer software that does the work i started discovering a whole new world out there. For office tasks I went from MS Office to Open Office. Then I went from Photoshop to Gimp for graphics. And latelly I’ve even been coming out of the shadows of Windows!!! Now I’m enjoying a new environment: Ubuntu Linux…and I heard that there are many other environmental “flavors” that I can try if the one I’m enjoying is not satisfying enough.

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  10. jon UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Its funny most people leaving comments on their favorite Windows compression tool are using Linux, but that’s off-topic ;)

    Using Linux myself, there are an array of *free* tools out there, including Ark, Unrar, 7zip, etc. However, one of the *few* things I miss about Windows is Winrar. It does everything, and does it quick! Also, I think it had the most intuitive interface of any compression program (although in the Linux environment, most of time I simply use the terminal)… I think in comparison, Winzip is a bit slower, and compression isn’t as tight.

    But looking to the future, we live in an increasingly open-source world, so I suggest checking out what else is out there. I just wish they made Winrar for Linux (Linrar?) :)

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  11. ha3rvey UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Izarc. it’s the only way to fly

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  12. EdHoro UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    We just had this discussion today at the office. We built a new Windows Terminal Server for processing data through this proprietary piece of software dictated that we use it by our industry. The primary network Admin insisted we were stupid for paying for WinZip licenses until i asked him if he would field all the calls pertaining to how to zip/unzip and use encryption by just using the Zip feature built into Windows.

    I suggested and pushed for 7zip. Me being the Programmer Analyst on this project it is being left up to me to make the final decisions on what compression software we install due to programming for automation tasks.

    In the end, we were both overruled by the Natl Director for IT in that he didn’t want all the help desk calls asking where is WinZip. He also didn’t want to spend the time training the “users” who are supposed to be developers but obviously are not how to use 7Zip. He also cited the rather few client demands that we compress and encrypt their data using Winrar which used to be my favorite compression tool until I discovered 7Zip.

    Long story short, we purchased 25 standard Winzip licenses, 2 Winzip Pro licenses, 2 Winrar licenses, and installed 7zip on everyone’s profile.

    So besides fighting the battle of “WinZip being what everyone knows”, the benefit of 7zip, and the uniqueness of some of our clients that demand WinRar we spent roughly $700 on compression utilities for 26 users of a box that only runs a proprietary set of applications that are extremely disk I/O intensive and the files that get processed on this beast of a server will be decompressed before even reaching the server in the first place.

    After all of that happened, the National Director of IT liked what I showed him about 7zip and the benefits of it despite slight speed hits. He issued new rules for our archive procedure across the company that all files being archived by the DVD +/-R or BluRay process be compressed in 7zip only using the “ultra” setting in 7zip for the .7z compression type.

    My only regret was convincing him of this without thinking of my poor coworkers that answer the help desk tickets having to train people on how to use 7zip. Some of our users are supposedly very technical have nothing but trouble when it comes to change on a Windows machine. These are all people that have been in the industry for 15+ years and came from a Main Frame environment. And the fact that we just wasted all that money on the licenses for WinZip and Winrar when he choose the 7zip route for everything else after the meeting.

    *** Sorry for the long comment post.

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