Best Free File Archiver-Zip Utility


Utilities that compresses one or more files into one smaller file have been around since the first personal computers were introduced.  These archive or zip file utilities were known by various names such as arc, pkarc and pkzip and they were run from a command line.

Considering that most personal computers back then didn't have a hard drive larger than 10 MB (if they even had one at all) and were only connected via modem speeds up to 1200bps, these compression utilities were essential for saving space and shortening upload and download times.

Even though today's computers have much more storage space and faster connection speeds, compression utilities are still incredibly useful for saving time and hard disk space. Through their modern graphical interfaces, drag and drop capability, support for multiple compression formats, security features and much more, they are also easier than ever to use.

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7-ZipOne product which has really impressed me is 7-Zip. It can unpack a multi-part RAR volume embedded in a ZIP archive, and gives a meaningful error message when attempting to unpack a 256 bit encrypted WinZip archive.

7-Zip supports 7z, zip, gzip, bzip2, tar, arj, cab, chm, cpio, deb, dmg, hfs and much more . It has a strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats and has powerful integration with Windows Shell.Even though it handles fewer archive types than some other programs, it is a fantastic program that will fulfill 99% of all your file archiving needs.


PeaZipAn open-source product that many here have suggested is PeaZip, which is easy to use and very versatile. It is capable of extracting from archive types including ACE, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, LHA, RAR, and UDF.

It runs on 32 and 64 bit Windows as well as various Linux distributions. It's open source, portable and a great little program. 

PeaZip can extract most of archive formats both from Windows and Unix worlds, ranging from mainstream 7Z, RAR, TAR and ZIP to experimental ones like PAQ/LPAQ family, currently the most powerful compressor available.

For archive creation, PeaZip supports a wide range of compression and encryption standard, from fastest to most powerful ones, and allows to export job definition as scripts to bridge the gap between GUI and console applications, and let the user pick the best of the two worlds.PeaZip has secure deletion feature, can verify file checksum and hash, and supports multiple strong encryption standards, optionally using two factor authentication (password and keyfile) for increased security


IZArcIf multi-format capabilities are important to you, I'd recommend IZArc. IZArc is a freeware archive utility supporting many archive formats like: 7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BIN, BZ2, BZA, C2D, CAB, CDI, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, IMG, ISO, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MDF, MBF, MIM. With a modern easy-to-use interface, IZArc provides support for most compressed and encoded files, as well as access to many powerful features and tools. It allows you to drag and drop files from and to Windows Explorer, create and extract archives directly in Windows Explorer, create multiple archives spanning disks, creating self-extracting archives, repair damaged zip archives, converting from one archive type to another, view and write comments and many more. IZArc has also build-in multi-language support.IZArc can be configured to run your preferred Anti-Virus scanner when you open any archives. It also supports 256-bit AES encryption to secure your data.

If you already use WinZip you'll find either 7-Zip or IZArc make excellent companion products. They can read just about all the major archive formats, including the widely used RAR.

Note: Despite saying this on their website: "IZArc is 100% virus free and it doesn't contain any spyware or adware.", this program is bundled with OpenCandy (See this article for more information.). If you want to do away with OpenCandy, you have to add a switch, for example C:\IZArcSetup.exe /NOCANDY, when installing the program.


B1 Free ArchiverB1 Free Archiver is a freeware compression utility that works on Windows, Linux, Mac and Android. It will be highly appreciated by those of you who have several devices on different platforms, but would prefer to use unified software across all of them. B1's interface looks pretty alike on all platforms so you intuitively know how to use it at first sight. In fact I would call B1's smooth and flawless interface one of the most prominent features of this utility as compared to other players on the market. You can drag-and-drop stuff, use hot keys and key combinations. B1 Free Archiver for Android perfectly serves as a file manager and makes navigation much easier.

B1 Archiver unpacks ZIP, RAR, 7Z, TAR.GZ, TAR.BZ2, as well as its own B1 format. However, with B1 you can create only ZIP and B1 archives. My basic testing showed that compressing into B1 format goes a little bit faster than into other formats and delivers the same or better compression ratio. But you should remember that if you create a B1 archive you will be able to unpack it only with its native utility which is B1 Free Archiver.

B1 Archiver has a handy online version which is the best solution in case you cannot, don't want or are not allowed to download any software to your computer but still have to unpack an archive. The process is really easy - you click the big blue button, choose the file from your computer and then wait few seconds. Unpacked files appear on the website, after that you can download them to your computer.


To be reviewed:

  • Bandizip, handle most popular compression formats including Zip, ZipX, 7z and RAR files.
  • HaoZip, build Zip, 7z and Tar compressed files directly, decompress 50 formats, support virtual CD-ROM mounting and extract the disc image, etc.
  • FreeArc, fast but efficient compression, create SFX (self-extracted) archives and installers and many other features, with console and GUI versions for both Windows and Linux.
  • TUGZip, a powerful archiving utility supporting for a wide range of compressed, encoded and disc-image files, create self-extracting encrypted archives, repair corrupted ZIP and SQX archives, etc.
  • Zipeg, decrypts password protected .zip and .rar files, combines and opens multipart .zip and .rar files, shows content of archives and allow you to select what to extract, and more.
  • Bitser, free windows software for managing archives and backups similar to WinZip, 7-zip and WinRAR but with an alternate user interface.
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Quick Selection Guide


Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to install, gives meaningful error messages, capable of uncompressing from multiple embedded files.
User interface is minimalistic.
1 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Non-English languages are supported. The portable version is available here.
Windows 98 to 7. Command line version for Linux/Unix.


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports many file types.
5.76 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 9x to 8, Linux

B1 Free Archiver

Available either as a web service or stand alone program
Has a smooth and intuitive user interface, is greatly customizable.
Doesn't work with as many formats as other archivers.
570 KB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Is multilingual. Can create password-protected archives.


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Handles nearly 50 different compression formats.
Large file download and memory footprint, the installer is bundled with OpenCandy.
5.23 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Can encrypt files using Rijandael - AES (256-bits) encryption
Windows 2000 to 7

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.


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Average: 4 (105 votes)


I had unfortunate experiences with zip files years ago, that reported errors after I tried to unzip the zip file (path names too long, etc).
What I would love is a program that is rugged and 'bullet proof' EG It tells you up front if the selected folders and files are too long or have other problems.
I am Scottish, but might even be tempted to pay for such a program

PS I recently purchased the most well known commercial program, but they do not support XP (which I use 95% of the time), and I am unsure whether it meets my 'pre warning' criteria above.

This _seriously_ needs an update. Archivers like IZArc/B1 are filled with garbage like OpenCandy and bundled software (not to mention, they have a ridiculous memory footprint), and it's criminal that Bandizip/FreeArc aren't mentioned.

"...AZip -  zip archive manager with a portable user interface and unique content search and smart archive update features ...":


Could you please indicate which of the reviewed ZIP file utilities if any allow to get a preview of ZIP attachments in Outlook 2010 ?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Best regards.

These products are File Archiver-Zip Utilities. They are not Outlook plugins or add-ins for previewing attachments. The article Best Free Outlook Add-ins is the obvious place to look here but it doesn't list any ZIP previewers. The only ones I know of are either paid products or are free only if you have paid for the file archiver that they supplement. You may be able to find a free ZIP previewer by searching for "free Outlook 2010 ZIP attachment previewer". You can see Outlooks currently enabled previewers in, from memory, File | Options | Trust Center | Trust Center Settings | Attachment Handling | Document and Attachment Previewers.

Hi Ian Richards...

Been looking for an easy to use, Free all around achiever/compression tool so following your advice i choose PeaZip as my option. It's interface is intuitive and easy to follow, fast and has just about all the basics I'll ever need. I don't frequently create zip files so i was looking for a tool that would be easy and i find PeaZip to be that tool. It integrates to the Right Click menu which is a plus. Nice and very explanatory review that even i can understand as I'm not a PC GEEK or an IT tech so thanks for your advice.

CoffeeZip: Features: * Free to use at both home and in the office * Support for 64-bit Windows. * ALZ, EGG formats are supported. * 7-Zip LZMA SDK is based. * Multi-core compression support. * You can extract the compressed file selected in Explorer with one click. * Integration with Windows Shell * Simple & Powerful GUI Manager(Drag and Drop) * Strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats * Supported formats: Packing / unpacking: Zip, 7z, wim, tar Unpacking only: ARJ, ALZ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, EGG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR, Z * Unpack and then you have to open the folder.(Default Option) * Run Command Prompt menu added to the shell context menu:

Has anyone tried Hamster?

7-zip has always been my go to but I'm starting to become disillusioned.

Installation of Hamster wants to change your HomePage with no op-out. Its either install the software and change your homepage or dont install, needless to say it didnt get installed on my system.

Thank you for pointing this out. I can confirm this is not an option during install. This software will not therefore be considered for review here. MC - Site Manager.

Setup Size for B1 archiver is 25.6 MB.
570 KB is the size of online installer.

B1 Free Archiver sounds like a very nice utility except for the fact that it cannot archive 7z (only decompress) which is a deal breaker for me. Not including full 7zip support is really bad of them.

7zip cannot be the top pick anymore as there are lots of bugs since 9.20 is from a long time back. See the changelog.

Peazip (latest version) is buggy. I tried it out and it was bad - sometimes get flat view with no dirs (compared to 7zip) and some small issues. It uses 7zip 9.22 which is also quite old.

Haozip is apparently quite good but it creates network connections silently.

*Easy 7-Zip*

An improved version of 7-Zip based on the latest 7-Zip version!


In December 2013 I downloaded & installed IZArc 4.1.8. I did notice the OpenCandy EULA, but was not offered any additional programs and/or toolbars. I cannot find any trace of OpenCandy on my PC - not under Windows XP or Windows 7. A few minutes ago, I again downloaded IZArc 4.1.8 & scanned the setup file with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. OpenCandy is not included - Malwarebytes did detect OpenCandy in the setup file of AXCrypt. I did contact Ivan Zahariev, IZArc's publisher, who has not yet replied. I will share his reply.
In the mean time, the setup file is 5.23 MB, not 160 KB.

I have been reading comments about bundled software in the ZIP products.
I have discovered that when installing these products in Win 8.1 (March2014) that the presence of 'bundle ware' is more insidious than the article indicated. Several products had in excess of 4 of these additions. And there was no choice - just take it or leave it. [7-Zip even insisted on attempting to update all of my drivers!!!] So I have ignored 7_Zip and IZArc that I have used on Win XP for years.
I did finally get 7-Zip in but my virus scanner got in the way - such that I could not set the file associations correctly.
Then I tried "B1 Free Archiver". No problems; no 'bundle ware'. My virus scanner was silent although it will have checked the download. This program does what I want with ease - which is selective recovery of BackUp files from ZIP archives. It also eliminates the way File Explorer in Win 8.1 regards files in a ZIP archive just as more files - which I find irritating as it loses clarity. "B1 Free Archiver" has a helpful approach to configuration.
It is a pity that good, well known utilities, put themselves beyond the pail by forcing unacceptable takeover of part of the users desktop. I would rather pay a small fee to use their software.

I've used 7-Zip for years in XP and W7 and never had any unwanted bundling such as you describe.

I can't imagine it would be that different in W8 but I'm not a user so can't be certain. The only issue I've ever had with setting it as the default archive handler is when running it with limited user access.

Like sicknero, I too have never encountered any bundleware with 7-zip. It's an excellent, clean software. And 7-zip has nothing to do with drivers either. So, if you faced any issues with 7-zip like you describe... either you downloaded a rogue copy of 7-zip, or a fake 7-zip program.
This is not the first time fake copies of this program have been circulating. MC - Site Manager.
Ah yes! True. Thanks for the links MC.
Have to say too for general reference that this same situation applies to a lot of the popular programs, or has done in the past. Not so long ago for instance there was a fake VLC app for Windows 8 in the Windows Store. Users should always download from the vendor's own website (assuming a green WOT - Web Of Trust rating) or a reputable third party source (not cnet!!) and check the integrity of their download before installing it. MC - Site Manager.

Thanks for all of your comments. I fear that, initially, i decided to locate a source of 7-Zip using Google - i cant remember which site i used for the download. I decided, belatedly, to go to TechSuppAlert. From there i did use the vendor's own site. I have just repeated this to refresh my memory. I downloaded the .msi version (for 64bit). The download was fine. So was the install. However, i still can't get the file associations to be sticky. Perhaps others might like to research both 32 and 64 bit versions on Win 8.1. There might be a bug.
I have also repeated IZArc. I used the vendor's site as recorded on TechSuppAlert. Download ok but the install was halted by my virus scanner. The setup had displayed a window requiring me to also accept a product called SNAP.DO. This is the install that then follows with ever more 'bundle-ware' all of which must be accepted to continue. This was from the vendor's site as per TechSuppAlert. I never got as far as /NOCANDY. (I do not see where to put the NOCANDY switch.
So i accept the comment of only using the vendor's site. But even this might be insufficient. It also shows how important using TechSuppAlert is.
So i'm staying with B1 Free Archiver.

Here at TSA, the editors take care to mention about the bundleware, or any extras in the software, and also link to home sites, but still, it does depend on the user to practice caution while downloading and installing. About the file associations of 7-zip, you need to run the exe of 7-zip as an administrator, once it's installed. Then, under options, set the associations, and press OK. The key thing is to run 7-zip as administrator, if you want the associations to stick. It's not a bug.

I'm new to Win 8 so I'm unsure about some of its security aspects.
So far I only have one User - which is therefore an Administrator a/c. I notice that when I copy/delete some files I get a dialogue which requires me to press 'Administrator'. I do not understand this.
So I was using 7-Zip>Options in administrator as far as I can see. Is there some other setting that I need?
I also have UAC turned off. It was far to voluble. I'm leaving my Virus scanner to prevent inappropriate changes to my PC. AS suggested by MidnightCowboy, I have now turned on HIPS in my Firewall. On my previous PC (under Win XP) I had been advised to turn HIPS off because it consumed too many PC resources.

Windows 8 is not much different from Windows 7. If you are deleting system files, or files from system folders like Program Files, etc, then administrator privileges are required. To run 7-zip as administrator, I meant, right click on the 7-zip program, and then click on "Run as administrator". Please do not turn of UAC. It's an important security feature. The security topic is out of scope of this article and therefore, please post your queries in the forum, which is the proper place for the discussion.

Thanks. That worked, so simple. I have never used Win 7. So 7-Zip is now my default for 7-Z and ZIP. B1 Free Archiver for any other compressed formats.

On your advice I have turned UAC back to full, to see its impact. I shall explore it later. I had turned it off when I began setting up Win 8.1 - everything was new then.

The unwanted component options are mostly designed to be confusing in terms of what to opt out of, or opt in to. Installers laced with OpenCandy will also offer different components per machine based on what it sees from it's scan of your installed programs. There's an information page here about how to avoid these things. Hope you find it useful. File associations can be prevented/interfered with depending on how your security settings are configured. This applies to your system security, such as UAC, and/or if you have third party software installed containing a HIPS component. MC - Site Manager.

Thanks for the link to "what have you also downloaded". I shall need to study this carefully and adjust my practices.

I would recommend a look at Haozip.

It supports do many formats and since using it I have never had to use any other similar utility.

Well firstly, peazip just sucks. I mean aside from the fact it is infected with opencandy, there are just too many things that render it a pain in the ass to use, especially if you like downloading a lot of stuff and they're always in archives, which you want to easily right click on and either choose "extract to____" so that you can select multiple different archives to each extract into separate folders for each one, with the same name, in that directory, which takes less than 2 seconds and requires no further input, and also the fact it was a pain in the ass trying to extract multiple archives in general, no matter how I wanted to do it, but especially if I wanted to name the folder myself from the UI. I can't remember what else, but I do remember I hated peazip within the first week of using it and went on to find 7zip, which I find absolutely perfect for what it's supposed to do. Honestly, the "boring" or "old" damn UI shouldn't factor into the rating or whatever, especially considering there are quite a lot of us who LIKE that kind of user interface, especially people with Windowsblinds or at least a classic theme, not to mention the fact people have been building unbelievably HIDEOUS and completely unusable user interfaces for all kinds of good software as of late and completely DESTROYING them and all of their functionality. Regardless, it needs to WORK for everyone. I found 7zip to be the most awesome utility I've ever had, in fact. I really appreciate the work done on it, and they've kept it simple & effective.

Still, any software, no matter how free, that installs crap like adware, babylon toolbar and more nonsense, does NOT deserve to be on a list like this, nor to get anything above a 1-star rating. If they really need to do advertising to get paid for their free software, they should put actual ads in their software. Don't infect our computers and change shit around to screw us over. It's just despicable, infuriating, disgusting and stupid.

Peazip has been updated to version 5.0