How to Extract Files from Almost Any Kind of Archive

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Ever come across an unusual Windows file archive format that your favorite archiving utility couldn’t unpack? Most of the time one of the well-known programs like 7-Zip will do the job but there are a large number of different archive formats and sometimes you may encounter one of the rarer ones. In that case, you will probably be successful if you try the little free utility called "Universal Extractor".

Universal Extractor will decompress and extract files from just about any type of archive or installer that you are likely to encounter. It does not have the capacity to create or edit archives but only extracts so it supplements but does not replace your regular file archiver. The current version 1.6.1 is three years old but the program works in Windows 7 and 8. The developer’s web page is at this link  but he does not appear to be developing it further. An unofficial update to version 1.7.8.93 has just been reported at Neowin but I have not tried it.

There are two download files. One is an installer that has an option to add the application to the Windows Explorer right-click context menu. There is also a binary package if you prefer a portable version. The interface is basic as shown in the graphic below.

Universal Extractor interface

One intriguing possibility is to use the utility to turn a program that ordinarily uses an installer package into a portable program. For example, Universal Extractor will unpack all the files from installers that are in the form of an MSI  (Microsoft Installer) archive. This is a very common way of packaging programs for installation. You may then be able to use the unpacked files as a portable group. Whether this will work as a portable application will depend on what Registry entries, DLL libraries, and other file locations that the program references.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

in reference to eikelein's comment,
How could he write "How can you write "but he ... further"?"
It's ... it's ... dispithhicable. (that's just my lispth)

I used the official version quite a long time and now I'm using the unofficial version. Years of flawless working.

I've been using this program for quite a while, and often quite a few times a day. I remember that when I installed it, there was an unofficial patch or something that added more functionality, so I installed that too. I got all the information from The Portable Freeware Collection site.

What I discovered was, and still is, amazing - that 75 to 80 percent of programs don't need to be "installed" at all. I created a separate partition for these "portables" and my actual portables, and my Program Files directory has shrunk enormously.

What that means is you can do smaller backups of C-drive.

Equally important is that if you need to rollback Windows to an earlier date or reinstall it completely, all the programs in the new partition retain their settings and function, leaving only a very few programs that need to be reinstalled

And if you use FreeFileSync to back up Program Files and Roaming, not only will you have even fewer programs to reinstall, but you'll still have all your shortcuts in Quick Launch, Send To, and Startup working.

How can you write "but he does not appear to be developing it further"?
The legroom home page states "Universal Extractor (Updated: 2013-10-25 08:57)".

But anyway, thanks for this post.

Disclosure: AFAIK I am in absolutely no way associated with Legroom or anybody behind it.

The developer's download link says, "Current Version: 1.6.1, Released: 05/12/2010". That is over three and a half years ago. The date you give seems to refer to when the web page was updated. Note that the phrase "Universal Extractor" is all the way on the left side of the page and "Last Modified: Fri, 10/25/2013 - 08:57" is all the way on the right side of the page. The two phrases are not written together as you indicate.
That date is for the modification of the web page, and not the software itself. Under "Download" section, it clearly says: Current Version: 1.6.1, Released: 05/12/2010