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 2000 to 10. Command line version for Linux/Unix.


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports many file types.
6.45 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. Product is bundled with unwanted components, currently the Ask Toolbar. Care needs to be taken during the install process to avoid activating this otherwise it will change your home page and other system settings.
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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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

It would be helpful if you gave a brief synopsis of why you are recommending it.
If you don't, then some of us, have to go to the site, and rummage around to work out why it is good, and what features are present and lacking.
More likely, you will find that the majority of us, say WTH (What The Heck), and think it is too much trouble, and don't check it out.

Not all people use the software they recommend. Sometimes, they come across it, or it's a new software. So, nothing wrong in suggesting it without saying why it's being suggested. Looking at the program, and testing it out, is the job of the editor, to see if it's good. Of course, it would be an added help if the users do share their experience, because it's not always possible to review a software immediately.
Bandizip has got a 5 star rating at CNET and Softpedia 4.5 stars at SnapFiles and plenty of positive comments at their website
One thing I noticed is that Bandizip tries to install itself in %AppData% folder, and not Program Files which is strange. It doesn't support LZMA and BZip2 compression methods (only Deflate) unlike Haozip, so I'll still keep using Haozip for the time being.

Just tried to install IZArc 4.1.7 - it now INSISTS on installing a new search toolbar (Babylon) .. it's not possible to continue without installing it .. even with the /NOCANDY command line option.

Did you not read my post ?
It all went to hades after 4.1.6
See my post (right next to yours) and get 4.1.6

I have IZarc 4.1.6 on my PC, and I don't recall having the problems that some of you are experiencing with the latest version.
The old versions web site lists 4.1.6 and also older versions -

Also I am thrilled to say that I can use that program to create a Self Extracting EXE, that will 'silently' (no interaction with user) extract it's contents into the same folder that the EXE is in.
To do this you right click a zip file, and choose -
IZarc -> Create Self-Extracting (.EXE) File
I leave all the defaults in the wee dialog untouched, except I tick - 'Create an Autorun SFX'
When later, the user double clicks that EXE it will -
- Silently extract it's contents into the same folder as the EXE.
- It does not create a sub folder
It just does what I told it to do.

HaoZip and jZip are missing. This section needs updating. See also post 94602.

jZip will not be included because their website has a poor WOT (Web Of Trust) rating. MC - Site Manager.