Best Free File Archiver Or Zip Utility



Utilities that compress 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.


Rated Products


A fantastic program fulfills 99% of all your file archiving needs

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Easy to install, gives meaningful error messages, capable of uncompressing from multiple embedded files.
User interface is minimalistic.
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Support most archive formats from Windows and Unix worlds

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Supports many file types, cross-platforms.
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B1 Free Archiver  

A freeware compression utility that works on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and online

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Smooth and intuitive user interface; greatly customizable; across most platforms.
Support fewer formats than other archivers; bundled with unwanted components;
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Support most compressed and encoded files, with powerful features and tools

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Handles nearly 50 different compression formats.
Large file download and memory footprint; the installer is bundled with OpenCandy.
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Other File Archivers Or Zip Utilities

  • 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.


Related Products and Links

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

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7-zip has been updated to 18.01.

Serious security bug found in 7-Zip 15.x.

Upgrade to version 16 for the fix.

I was using 7-Zip for a long time. I could live with spartan interface because I mostly used it through explorer context menu. Then once I had to add a file to exting archive and there was a problem. Opened archive, clicked add button and it said action is unsupported?! After a while I found that you can drag and drop a file from exploer onto 7-Zip with exisitng archive opened and then it will ask if you want to add a new file to exisitng archive. But even using it that way, 7-Zip crashed on me sometimes.

Dicided to find something else and tried Bandizip (listed to be reviewed). I found it far more user friendly and add button works as expected (compared to 7-Zip). There is less options to choose from in archive crating dialog which is less confusing for novice users. But if you really want, you can open 7-Zip's own dialog for creating a 7-Zip archive with Bandizip. Curiously you can't do it from the main Bandizip interface, but you can add option to open 7-Zip's dialog to explorer context menu. When creating self-extracting file Bandizip offers an option to add a title and some custom text if you want to (compared to 7-Zip). Also an option to open a chosen file after self-extraction is completed. But as I said you can get to 7-Zip's native dialog if you really want to make a self-extracting file with 7-Zip's dialog.

Also tried Peazip. Gave up because I mostly use archive operations from explorer context menu and with smaller files. Compared to 7-Zip and Bandizip, Peazip take much longer time to start up and begin operation. So if you handle smaller files it takes Peazip more time to start up than actually do to archive operations.

7-Zip and PeaZip have had a couple of updates since this article was published; 7-Zip now stands at version 15.14, and PeaZip at 5.91 .

Thank you AJNorth. The product details have now been updated. MC - Site Manager.

You're most welcome, MC; my pleasure.



B1 free archiver is a 2 mb download for a 92 mb web install that doesn't really give you much control over the interface or the operations. I expected a file of that size to be extremely configurable but was greatly disappointed. It seems to be all candy (it looks pretty) at the expense of functionality. Don't waste your time.

IZArc has been updated to 4.2
The installer no longer contains adware (See the "news" page on IZAarc site). I installed it right now and did not see anything related to opencandy.

As an aside, IZArc supports more formats than 7zip, B1 and Pea (See /Comparison_of_file_archivers on Wikipedia).
I believe that it deserves a second look.

[[ Why can't I post links? ]]

Indeed, since I was one of the people that hated IZArc the most about the hidden open candy, I can tell that i tried this version and it had none.

IZArc still says on it's pages that it supports ARC archive and still does not support it. Thus they simply say they support all these formats, when they do not. Just in case it will be said that "this is just one of the one it says it supports" I will say that they can simply have lied about any of the other ones too. I call it a lie, because like I mentioned on a review I made on alternativeto, freearc has not been updated for year and IZArc, especially now, has just been updated, which means it is a lie. That or the company does not give a care about what they say they support.

Wkipedia says:
"The .arc file extension is often used for several file archive-like file types. For example, the Internet Archive uses its own ARC format to store multiple web resources into a single file. The FreeArc archiver also uses .arc extension, but uses a completely different file format."

"Initially it [FreeArc] supported only its own archive format, normally identified by the .arc file name extension, incompatible with others; there's no relationship with other .arc formats."

IZArc supports the "original" ARC format as used by SEASoft, not the later (and incompatible) one created by FreeArc. There is no lie, just a confusion because FreeArc decided to use the same extension for a different format.

To verify it, you can download the ARC archiver from gnuwin (can't post links here, google "arc for windows"), create an archive and open it with IZArc.
I just did it myself and it worked perfectly..

IZArc then advertises it supports the original ARC archive, which it's era as it seems was over 20 years ago and it is the original ARC archive, where Peazip advertises it supports the non original ARC archive, that people nowadays do use, considering it is one of the best data compression method. I am not saying that just from personal experience, which indeed freearc archives do compress data better, but if you use wikipedia to look up freearc, you will see that it is even better than the current best and popular LZMA2 method of 7z.

Although I take it back about IZArc lying then and I am really sorry. I better change my review on alternativeto too. IZArc unique supported files seem to be as it advertises CD/DVD Image files and from a quick look through them, a couple of older and maybe newer formats. Also encoded email archives and a couple of more. Here is a list of the unique ones If something is missing, it is because I tested it with Peazip and it opened it;

A - The Unix AR archive files?
ARC - Original widely used before 20 years
B64 - Binary usable by usenet only
BH - ZipTV archive
BIN - I tried 5 BIN files and it did not show any content in them. Creating my own worked, so it works.. kind of.
BZA - IZArc's archive
C2D - Roxio CD Image
CDI - Uhmmm, CD image. Not sure by what used.
ENC - I do not know
GCA - compression format created in 2000 by Shin-ichi Tsuruta
GZA - IZArc's archive
HA - Used by an old HA Archiver.
IMG - CloneCD if I remember right?
LIB - Tried it on a handful LIB files and it did not work.
MDF - Alcohol CD Image
MBF - I do not know
MIM - eMail compression archive?
PDI - Pinnacle Systems' InstantCopy DVD iamge
UUE - used for email encoding?
XXE - a third email archive for encoding
YZ1 - used by an older Yamazaki ZIPPER
ZOO - old compression format, predecessor of the ARC archive.

These are the ones that are not supported by Peazip at least and I tested some of the CD/DVD images and indeed they worked. It makes it an awesome tool if you want to extract CD image files without having to install a virtual DVD program. for at least the images it can open. For that use, I salute it and indeed before a handful of years, in the age that everything were in such format, I would call it an awesome tool to extract these images, but still mounting them with Daemon tools and extracting them that way was never that hard.

I am still though being bitter for a couple of reasons. First is that it is meant to be a piece of software that will replace any archiver since it can handle "everything". I just installed it and tried it just to see if the new version changed anything but the removal of the opencandy.

A test with IZArc and 7z format, LZMA2 - Solid Archine gave me an error of being unable to compress the selected files and with just LZMA2 became unresponsive and I waited for 4-5 minutes and then I gave up Even more annoying is that every time you choose to compress some things, it will revert to it's default ZIP format, although if you open the program and go to options, you can change the default to another format, so it is not so bad. Peazip managed to work with LZMA changed to 2and zipped as good as 7Zip and thankfully it remembers the lase used archive type, rather than needing to have a set default.

Obviously I can see IZArc can't replace the currently most famous archiver , which is 7z. Peazip on the other hand can kind of replace it, because it can indeed use the same compression methods and unlike IZArc that has hardly any options when compressing. Peazip has the same options 7zip has, in case someone wants to change them to something different AND if you change the options, it will remember them in the next times you will use it , until you will change it to something else. Actually it gives an option to the user, to select a bunch of folder/files and compress each of them in a separate archive, something sadly the original 7-Zip does not offer. I am not saying Peazip is better than 7-Zip, because 7-Zip is still much more stable and fast when handling it's own format. But at least it does not tell to the user it cant compress the files when LZMA2 with a Solid Archive is used, which has been the norm for 7z for a long while now. It even hangs when LZMA2 is used and it does not give different compression levels for it.

From a quick look on Wikipedia as you pointed out, Peazip supports a lot of formats like IZArc, with either of them supporting some the other does not. Considering all that and that Peazip has a better interface, support 7z format really good and supports not just opening but also compressing in the non original ARC format, which is used widely nowadays, I would say that IZArc seems to be doing something wrong

IZArc needs to at least fix it's support on the main file archive it supports, rather than choosing as a default the Zip format. Zip format is indeed is indeed the most common, considering windows support that out of the box, but it is not special, since any file archiver supports that.

You raise some valid points. However, I am not the program's author and I doubt that he follows this thread. Why don't you offer these suggestions on the IZArc site? (Just keep in mind that English is not the author's first language)

I am Greek and English is definitely not my main language >.> If anything, it is all Greek to people I talk to. The reason I wont try to reach out is become to begin with I do not like the interface. Peazip was bundled with Opencandy first time I have found it and actually malwarebytes would delete the whole install file. I did post that in the forums, along with other people that complain and the opencandy was removed. But that is because I liked how Peazip worked and looked. IZArc does not feel like it has a friendly UI at all. Plus I am content with the progress of Peazip. Quite unstable still and I always check file integrity with it afterwards, but it is advancing all the time.

B1 free archiver is marked as Ad supported on Softpedia. It is like that for some time now.

Thank you for pointing this out bili_39. The product details have now been updated to include a warning for the bundled components. MC - Site Manager.

7-Zip for Windows has been updated to 15.12 (2015-11-19).

I am not sure if the mods read these comments, but I feel IZArc should be removed from the list. Not only it is as bad as it can, but it comes bundled with opencandy too. My problem was not the opencandy per se, as much the fact that even if I denied the installation of the advertisement programs, my antimalware program caught IZArc running the opencandy installer as soon as I declined them. I have wrote here there reasons that this program should be avoided at all costs.

As of now Peazip seems to be the best all around program to have. It's interface seems nice, as always has been and the only problem I have is that I can't drag and drop items from within an archive on another, without having to first unzip the one I want to take the items from. Also I can't drag and drop items on the desktop. But these are minor things. I do not want to make a huge pose here on how I feel, but I will just say that Peazip does it all. I have wrote a large post about why it is worth having over the others here for anyone that cares to read it. I explain why I like it and even compare it to 7zip/winrar/freearc.

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.

Zip tools are not usually if at all to blame. The best though program I had to open archives was indeed 7zip. When it says the path is too long it can mean a handful of things, which one of them is really being the path name being too long. Remember the limit of the filepath name is 250-260 characters and when you use the zip programs they count the whole length, including the folder name.

So if you have backed up things and they are in a folder called "Omg this is a really large name that have 150 character" and the file name is another 150 characters, normally windows will not have a problem to read them, but when you try to copy or unzip them, it tries to read the full length of it and it goes over the 250 character limit.

If you do not get it, just try to copy things from your zip, directly on your c: drive, rather than in a folder. That will help Windows to be able to read it.

Paying will not really help, if that is your problem.

There is no bullet proof program from file corruption. Sure you can add a % of security, which will help a bit from file corruption, but if a file gets damaged for whatever reason, nothing can really fully save it. Your problem does not seem corruption though, so again I doubt paying for it will help.

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.