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compressWhether you’re tight on space, or need to send an enormous quantity of files, archiving software is the way to go. These days, not using an archiving suite is almost unthinkable, and it’s one of the first things you should download when you reinstall your operation system.

But which software is the way to go? In the sea of (free) software, which tool does its job best?

We decided to check it out, and present you the best free archiving applications on the market. Read on to see the best extraction program, the application with the tightest compression and the multi-platform topper.

Universal Extractor – Best Extraction Program

With over 50 supported file formats, Universal Extractor, or UniExtract, is the obvious winner when looking for extraction software. Whether you want to view the contents of a RAR file, an EXE, or even a dbx-file.


Universal Extractor uses an algorithm to determine the given filetype. Only if this does not yield any results does it resort to the filename, so you shouldn’t have any problems with wrongly named files.


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You can use the File/Destination GUI as depicted in the first screenshot, or the right-click context menu to quickly extract all your files. Universal Extracter has a simple, superficial interface, and that’s good thing.

If you want to read more about Universal Extractor, Mark wrote a more extended article Open Any Compressed File with Universal Extractor Open Any Compressed File with Universal Extractor Read More about it late 2007.

Universal Extractor is available for Windows 2000/XP/Vista

KGB Archiver – Tightest Compression

KGB Archiver is an application with an insane, perhaps even the all-time highest compression rate. To achieve this, KGB Archiver deploys its PAQ6, or more recently PAQ7 compression algorithm.

Tested with Calgary Corpus, a 6MB package famous for compression algorithm testing, KGB Archiver manages to reach a stunning compress ratio of 19.8%. Compare this to the maximum RAR compression (24.0%) and 7zip ultra compression (26.1%), and I think we’ve got ourselves a winner. More test results can be found here.


Although KGB Archiver is mostly just a compression tool (it can make KGB and ZIP files), it’s the perfect companion for Universal Extractor. Get the tightest compressions out of KGB Archiver, and decompress everything using Universal Extractor, even the previously made KGB files!

KGB Archiver is currently available for Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista

7-Zip – Multi Platform Topper

If this one were to be missing from the list, I’d probably get lynched. And for a good reason that is. Over the years 7-Zip has made quite a name for itself across, and although it doesn’t support as many files as Universal Extractor, or has a compression rate as high as KGB Archiver, it gets the job done.


This open-source application works under a simple interface, but hides a very advanced toolbox. It runs light on memory and, well, just feels clean.

7-Zip File Manager is available on Windows/Mac/Linux.

So what do you think? Perhaps you prefer IZArc, or TugZIP. Tell us which applications are on top of your list, and why.

  1. sourav
    April 11, 2016 at 4:17 am

    can anyone send me kgb archeiver download link ?

  2. DsiD
    July 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I would say:
    - PeaZip for the number of archive formats it can extract, and for supporting PAQ compression, even better than KGBArchiver compression
    - 7-Zip plain and simple free compressor anyone can use
    - WinRar, love it or leave it it is the only archiver that can create rar files

  3. techgeek1
    July 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Just saw this thread and thought I'd also suggest FILEminimizer Office - it compresses MS Office files up to 98%. The cool thing about this is that it compresses the actual file, so there's nothing to extract.

  4. alexblog
    June 4, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I am using WinRar!

  5. Isengard
    June 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Using 7zip here, have been for the last few years, and haven't found an archive it couldn't extract yet.

  6. NomDeGuerre
    June 3, 2009 at 9:35 am

    It would be nice to see how these stack up with compression/decompression *times* as well.

  7. Joshua
    June 3, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Haha, a better title would be:
    "The 3 Top File Compression & Extraction Softwares" ;P

    It's a shame KGB isn't as widely used as rar =x

    • Simon Slangen
      June 3, 2009 at 8:27 am

      Through, maybe if they'd incorporate some of the more popular compression algorithms, like RAR, and/or went multi-platform.

      • Simon Slangen
        June 3, 2009 at 8:28 am

        *true - shameful typo

  8. Pierre O.
    June 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Top 3 (?) ... Misleading title ...

    Probably lots of good freeware here.
    I use Izarc for quite a while and simply love it.
    Inatalls fast and easy. Works flawlessly and fast.
    I did not test the others, I simply compare the features and I simply do not find any reason to switch.
    For the typical user, Izarc does it all ... 47 supported filetypes, multilanguage, very user friendly, portable version available, explorer integration, and on and on ...
    check thoroughly ...

    Maybe not the best compression ratio, but I do not care since nowadays large drives give me plenty of space.

    To sum it up, title is misleading, for me Izarc is certainly among the best since for me ease of use and reliability are the most important criteria.

    Pierre O.

    • Simon Slangen
      June 3, 2009 at 1:10 am

      You're right, the title doesn't fit. It's more like a list of the different discipline winners.

  9. Neolex
    June 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    that is too true... winrar sucks.

  10. Nachitox
    June 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

    What about Winrar?

    • Simon Slangen
      June 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

      Technically WinRAR isn't free. It's just really miserable in keeping you from using it beyond the trial period.

      • Will Mueller
        June 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm

        You can still download WinRAR 3.71 with virtually all of the same capabilities and functionality from FileHippo as well as a few other places, yet you do get those annoying trial messages.

    • ousaf
      May 22, 2015 at 4:54 am

      If you are getting better software than WinRaR then why go with WinRaR.
      WinRaR used marketing techniques to burred the other open source and free software that's all about earning money

  11. 2kemon
    June 2, 2009 at 11:57 am

    jzip is a better looking version of 7-zip...

  12. Neolex
    June 2, 2009 at 10:49 am

    7-ZIP! i've not seen or encountered an archive it can't open. yet.

  13. Pedro Fernandes
    June 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

    These tools are great, but what about Izarc and PeaZip?

  14. Guillermo
    June 2, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I love Al-Zip

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