What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More

Matt Smith 27-12-2012

best file compressionFile compression is an important and common task users frequently ask of their computers. Reducing a file’s size makes it easier to email or place on a flash drive. It also reduces bandwidth usage and the time required to move a file between PCs.


There are several popular ways to compress a file, but which is the best file compression method? To find out we’re comparing WinZip, WinRAR, 7-Zip 7Zip: A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats Read More and the native file .zip compression found in Windows 7. We’re going to compress the same files with each and measure how long compression takes and the size of the finished archive. Let’s see who comes out on top!

The Basics

These tests will be conducted using the native file format and default settings of each program. That means WinRAR will be compressing to .RAR, 7-Zip to .7z. and WinZip to .zip. The built-in Windows 7 compression utility also uses .zip.

Compression speeds are measured using a stopwatch. Final file sizes are measured using the “size” metric shown in the Windows Properties menu for each finished archive.

Compression Speed Test

To test compression speeds I’m going to throw each of these competitors through three different file compression How Does File Compression Work? How does file compression work? Learn the basics of file compression and the difference between lossy versus lossless compression. Read More tests. They are as follows.

Document test – A folder 65MB folder of Word, Excel and PDF files


App test – A 1.48GB folder containing the game Torchlight 2

Media file test – A 3.23GB folder containing .JPG and .MP3 files

Here’s a graph of the results.

best file compression


As you can see there’s a significant variance between the different software and a definite trend throughout. WinZip handily beat everyone by compressing the files into .zip format over twice as quickly as the next-quickest competitor.

Windows 7’s built-in .zip compression came in second, but there was a glitch. It turns out that it can’t compress files that have special characters. It could not complete our document compression test as a result. This may not be a problem for everyone but I find it annoying. It seems strange that the built-in Windows 7 compression utility can’t handle file names the operating system considers valid.

File Size Test

Though these results show a clear winner we have to take them in context of file size. Compressing to a smaller size takes longer, all other factors equal, so perhaps WinRAR and 7-Zip are the victors there. Let’s have a look.

file compression software


Here we can see that the document test shows 7-Zip running away from the crowd. It reduced file size significantly more than WinRAR or WinZip.

In the larger folder size app and media file tests, however, there was a much smaller difference. 7-Zip was still the best, followed by WinRAR, but the advantage may be too small to justify much longer compression times. It only makes sense if you’re compressing a file that will then be downloaded many, many times (which may be why .RAR is common on file-sharing types).

Some readers may not find compression of any kind worthwhile for media files. These files handled are often already in a compressed format and don’t gain much benefit from being placed in a compressed archive.


While these four competitors all perform the same basic functions they’re different in how they go about their task.


Window’s built-in compression utility wins on ease-of-use because it just works. You can compress folders by right-clicking them and selecting the appropriate option from the menu. Folders compressed format open automatically. Functionality is an issue, however, as there are no options to speak of and the utility can’t compress files with special characters in their name.

file compression software

Next up is WinZip. It’s also easy to use because it looks like a bundled Windows app. It uses the ribbon interface and offers menus that mimic the design of those found in Microsoft software like Paint and Word. There’s also a lot of functionality. WinZip can connect with cloud storage providers and makes it easy to create self-extracting archives, use .zips for backups and etc.

The downside is price. The full version is $29.95 and you’ll need the full version to use the features which make WinZip stand out.

file compression software

That leaves WinRAR and 7-Zip. Both have an interface which provides a menu bar with large icons above a file explorer that can be used to find files you’d like to compress. It’s possible to start compression by right-clicking a folder or via drag-and-drop. And that’s about it.

best file compression

Honestly, though WinZip has the most impressive interface, the interface differences won’t matter much to most users. All of these options can compress folders via right-click, and they all automatically open archives, so you may never have to see the main menu. WinZip’s advantages are only meaningful to people who need to organize and compress numerous files on a regular basis.


To be honest, it’s hard to hand down any definitive verdict. All of these competitors have strengths and weaknesses. They are also all perfectly adequate for the average user.

Since I have to make some recommendation, I’ll give preference to WinZip. It offered the quickest performance and has the best interface. Its compression performance could be better, but is good enough for most.

7-Zip is best for users who need maximum compression. It won the document compression test by a mile and was also the victor (by a small margin) in our other compression benchmarks. This is paid for in performance. 7-Zip was slowest across the board.

And then there’s WinRAR. This is the software I’ve always used and I probably won’t abandon it. Though it’s not the quickest, and it didn’t offer the best compression, it performed well enough in both areas. It’s also the easiest way to handle .RAR files – which are common on file-sharing sites. If that’s your thing .RAR is the only sensible choice.

Let us know in the comments what you think.  What’s your preferred form of compression and why?

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  1. Graeme
    March 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Yeah I use Winrar. Always have from the early days.

    One question, is a zip created by winrar any different from a zip file created by winzip or 7zip ?


  2. Alex Yslava
    November 11, 2016 at 4:17 am

    I have spent all day looking for a compression solution to all my data. I have TB’s of mixed data. Mp4’s. Jpeg’s, Mp3’s, Pdf, Epub, Doc etc. Too many to list them all. I have it all stored on external HDD’s (5). I want o make room by uploading a lot of what I have to a cloud service. I know about Handbrake, Freemake and other software specifically for video’s. I don’t want to have to compress each file individually. Instead I would like to compress what I have in each of the folders containing the data in order to upload the compressed files or parts to a folder in my cloud.

    I’m in no way tech savvy, but from what I have been able to gather, the two best choices are WinRar or 7zip. In each I can split the file sizes down to specific sizes and X number of parts. What are your thoughts on this and which would you recommend?

    Thank you, Alex

  3. darkflux
    September 14, 2016 at 2:33 am

    that was a dumb verdict. Winzip did the WORST with compressing the files (next to Windows, but that should be a given). isn't the whole idea of zipping files to make them take up less place? and yet you said you preferred WinZip? it may have been around longest, but if the competition does a (far) better job, i would switch. no use driving a VW when you can have a Maserati. especially since 7Zip is FREE and WinZip costs moneys! plus, they've started bundling WinZip with a bunch of filler that slows down your PC! i seriously used to use WinZip before they started doing that crap...

  4. Anonymous
    October 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Try " Long Path Tool " is also useful in situations where you see these error messages

  5. Anonymous
    July 15, 2015 at 9:32 am

    If time is not an issue, neural network based PAQ family of algorithms are current Hutter prize winners, providing better compression than classic RAR and LZMA/LZMA2.

  6. Peter
    January 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

    7-zip is the best, it can open more or less all formats and can create zip, 7z, wim, tar files!

    If you consider the time it takes to compress an issue just change the settings and it will go faster but you will get bigger files...

  7. Kamyar
    December 10, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Thank You Matt Smith, Nice Testing;
    also appreciated from all Company, Group, person
    (especially Igor Pavlov and Alexander Roshal)
    for made these programs.

  8. Lamim Rashid
    May 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    You forgot uharc, probably the most powerful archive format to date in terms of compression. It is a discontinued format, and has been for awhile but still to date the one that will give you best result, I tested it myself vs 7zip lzma 2, rar, zip, zipx, gzip, etc using variety of different file types, sizes and quantities.
    Check it out if interested.

  9. Andy Williams
    February 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    If you prefer to/need to share full-size files of your photos but they are very "heavy" maybe have a look at Blubox []. This program (freeware with ads, payware without) can significantly compress image files. Recipients can use the free Blubox Viewer.

    As for general compression, I am a long-term user of 7-Zip. It may not be the fastest but it does all I need, except compress photos!

  10. ZoNi
    January 17, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I prefer 7-zip (and .zip), since it is free and fast when compressing to .zip.

  11. Robbie Blowe
    January 11, 2013 at 6:13 am

    first of all thanks for posting the article and testing the compression software's but i would appreciate if a review i and tests are done for the ''freearc '' file compression software which i have been using for sometime now , in which i find it compresses much more better than any other software out there , and it fast in both compression and decompression of files in which i can compress a 1 GB file in few seconds and decompress it much more faster and it can open more files types then other software's but the only drawback is it compresses in only one format which is .arc which cannot be opened by other software's, but this is only a laymen's ( like me) view, and also i would like if test are done for Uharc software also ,since it does the same performance as freearc but it compresses much more but it is very slow, so hope test and reviews will be done on this pretty good totally free software's

  12. Anonymous
    January 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for the tests and the info. I use 7-Zip and will stay with it.
    "bben" (in Comments) said it all perfectly.
    By the way, what native file .zip compression found in Windows 7???
    I have no native file .zip compression in my Windows 7 Home Premium. That's why I download 7-zip.

  13. Jorge S
    January 4, 2013 at 5:52 am

    A point that should be also taken into consideration is that 7-zip is the only program of the 3 that is free.

  14. Pierre O.
    January 3, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Using Izarc freeware for years

    Very satisfied, reads lots of formats

    With IZArc you can open CD image files like ISO, BIN, CDI and NRG.
    It is also possible to convert such files from one type to another (BIN to ISO, NRG to ISO

    Izarc2go portable version
    Izarc for IOS available

    Should have been included in your review
    Seems hard to match in my opinion ...

  15. Dharmendra Dubedi
    January 2, 2013 at 8:35 am

    winrar and 7 zip both are best

  16. Silver Angel
    January 2, 2013 at 3:41 am

    You must be psychic. i was just wondering if i could use 7-Zip to store my photos onto a Flash drive.....I liked your tests, and the end results comments....
    I am running Windows XP Pro V.5.1.2600 SP3.0 32 bit & using Firefox 13.0.1 as my browser. Did I sound professional? don't be fooled, I am old & not a techie, really don't know what I am doing, and remembering stuff can be hard....
    Thanks in advance...
    Loved the article, came just in time....
    Sylvia Oh, & Happy New Year, May the Force be with you....

  17. David Goadby
    January 1, 2013 at 9:39 am

    And let's not forget peazip. It's a good all-rounder is open source and multi-platform.

    I used to use the paid-for version of Winzip but I got fed up with their pointless regular upgrades - we are now Vista compatible, now Win7 compatible etc and started to feel like I was just an income stream to Winzip. Peazip is all I use now on all platforms.

    That said, I only seem to use zip for transferring collections of files by email these days so maybe zipping is no longer a mainstream tool anyway.

  18. Justin Ellenwood
    January 1, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Winrar. I don't know why so many lists fail to include this software.

  19. John Schmitt
    December 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I have been using WinRAR for years. One thing I'd like to pass on is I almost never compress files, I use the "Store" function in WinRAR instead of compressing files. Store is a way to collect the files and put them into a RAR file and not waste time compressing anything. HDD's are so cheap now, to me it just makes sense to not compress anything, almost like an .ISO file. That, my friends, is another story. I think y'all get the picture.

  20. Deekshith Allamaneni
    December 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I use 7Zip as it compresses more compared to others . Also it is available for Windows as well as Linux and it is free and open-source.

  21. Anonymous
    December 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I used 7Zip but failed to unzip once and I'm using Win RAR now. I really want to use 7Zip because it's free but I'm afraid it will give me trouble again.

  22. Marvin De Leon
    December 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Informative for windows users. It would be really great if you have tested not only in windows but also on a mac.

  23. Jim Spencer
    December 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Nice article! While I have come to prefer WinRar over the years, this comparison will give me a reason to check out alternatives.

  24. Meena Bassem
    December 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    if you want a better compression from 7-zip, you can use these settings.It's not the fastest but pretty high file reduction ratio.compression and extracting may take some time and high cpu usage,but results in good compression ration for most files.

    archive format 7zip
    compression level ultra
    compression method LZMA2
    dictionary size 64MB
    word size 256
    solid block size 64 GB
    number of cpu threads (for me 2/4 was quite ok)

  25. Oded
    December 30, 2012 at 9:51 am

    The main thing I found weird in this article is that you mentioned the downsize of WinZIP's cost, but didn't mention the same thing for WinRAR (even though the screenshot clearly shows "evaluation copy"). In terms of licensing and nagging, WinZIP and WinRAR are the same - both are shareware with nag screen and costs a pretty buck.

    Another thing which baffled me is that the test completely ignored the capabilities of "non-native" compression formats. For example, both WinZIP, WinRAR and 7-zip support compressed tar archives, and tar.gz routinely compresses better then zip (both in space and in speed) while tar.bz2 or tar.xz should give 7-zip a run for its money in space reduction.

  26. ron
    December 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Winrar is the compression software that I've always used and was happy to hear that your would not abandon it. Great software

  27. Kenneth McClure
    December 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I've tried all of them but I seem to like WinRAR the best. I'm sure this is due to the fact that I've been using it for so long it just easier then learning any other compression method.
    I still use all the others from time to time like when I don't have any other choice. RAR is still my fav....

  28. Andy Bristow
    December 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    You didn't say whether you used 7zip 32bit or 7zip 64bit as the 64bit version will no doubt be much quicker than the 32bit version.

  29. Anonymous
    December 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    i'll keep using 7-zip for their simplicity.

  30. Anandu B Ajith
    December 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    WinUHA is Also An Option

  31. David C
    December 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Where WinZip excels is its interface. It was designed to make it as easy as possible for the end user to work with ZIP files. WinZip came on the heels of the need for a Windows ZIP utility when PKWARE was still dominant. They never intended to go head-to-head with PKWARE in the best file compression. Even the early WinZip was worlds better than the Windows version of PKZIP.

    Various formats including ARJ and RAR have been around since the DOS days, but ZIP was the 'standard' for file compression. PKWARE heavily marketed their product to become the 'standard.' It wasn't necessarily the best in file compression but it worked well. In hindsight, it might have helped made things easier having a common format instead of 2-3 (maybe more) competing and incompatiable compression formats.

    That said, the article is rather simplified which is okay for your basic end-user. Hands-down, for that audience, WinZip is the winner. As I said, their focus is all about the interface and that is both looks and ease of usage. However, a study of previous articles on archive utilities would quickly yield that these type of tests also include a mixed file type test too. Typically a user would be archiving a set of mixed file types. Some utilities performp better in these type of compressions than other (and arguably this is a better measure of the performance).

    What is NOT noted is that there are a ivariety of options that most likely would affect the results shown. These utilities typically have different levels of compression that range from fast compression/minimal reduction to slow compression/maximum compression. Default compression types lie roughly in the middle of this range. Sometimes there are also compression types just for certain types of files.

    Also, these aren't your father's Oldsmobile either. Some programs will attempt to recommend the best compression type based on the files you are trying to archive.

    Finally, once again, this is yet another article that assumes that its audience are Windows users. WinZip and WinRar are ONLY for Windows. Articles should be more appropriately titled to note Windows.

  32. Ashwin Divakaran
    December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am

    7 Zip is best for me

  33. Amit Sinha
    December 29, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Hello Matt Smith
    I received a compressed file with size 25MB and after decompressing it the file size is 117MB. (Decompressing this file takes much time )
    I try myself to compress file with different compression softwares but the size would only decrease with few MBs.

    Can you explain it why this happens.
    Or where and how would I get this level of compression so that I could compress all my media files to get free space

  34. Rohan S.
    December 29, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Well other than .rar,.zip,.7z; I would also like to know about arc & uharc.

  35. WantedManiac
    December 29, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Anytime with '7-Zip' : Open-source, Command-line+GUI, Portable, 100% trust.

  36. Steven Cooke
    December 29, 2012 at 3:44 am

    I use both WinRar and WinZip. I got WinRar specifically to unpack .rar files, and when I saw how well it does all other formats, I just stuck with it. I used the "free" version of WinZip, so maybe I didn't see the advantages of its speed, as the article pointed out. I have a copy of 7-zip, also because of its multiple-format capability. But I probably won't use it now, as my compression needs don't really fit the strengths of 7-zip, and WinRar is working well.

  37. Robert Backlund
    December 29, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I have been using RAR for a long time, however I have switched over to 7-zip recently. It may be a little slower but one of its best features that you fail to mention is that it is open source software covered under the LGPL license and is free to use and to redistribute to your friends. All the rest are commercial software that you should pay for. There is one feature that both RAR and 7-zip share that you did not explain very well and greatly enhances their ease of use. They both can be embedded into Windows Explorers menu interface. When you browse to a file and right click on it then you can pick from the menu to "add it to an archive, extract it to a folder, or extract it here" options. This is almost as easy as using the native Windows 7 unzipping function.

  38. Stephane Dufresne
    December 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Hmmmm this article could have been awesome with the links to Download either one of them (real McCoy not just the teasers) but now,,,,now I'm afraid it's just plain perfect..


    All the best for 2013 everyone,work hard and play even harder..
    From Old Quebec city,Canada

  39. Rob
    December 28, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    This was a very interesting topic and utility most folks do not think of using outside extracting downloaded .zip, .rar files. It would be a helpful to note comparison upon reduction of file sizes acquired between the noted utilities benched.

  40. Curtis
    December 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    How do you feel at all justified in saying that the windows built in wins because it "just works", when it failed to function completely. To me that is not "just working".

    I would be interested in seeing how this compares to LZO and LRZIP. LZO is commonly used in the Linux world for realtime compression. LRZIP is a new method developed by Con Kolivas that is purported to be super fast and efficient.

  41. TheBigOldDog
    December 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Have to admit I was surprised at size of the 7z performance hit. Just never noticed how much slower it is.

  42. Peter Crosskey
    December 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    This article was mildly disappointing, to be honest. Since first using PKZip under DOS to shoehorn files into a tiny hard drive, I have been using file compression software for a year or two now. BTW, the "PK" bit stands for Phil Katz, who wrote an international shareware bestseller and established an industry standard.

    It is a rare example of computer users voting with their spending power for software on the basis of its reliability rather than its marketing. Nobody pays for a utility that doesn't deliver, but everyone values stable software that works every time.

    Paying for decent archive software makes sense if it generates or supports robust industry standards. When the built-in Windows archiver can't manage its own filename standards, someone's pulling your leg, mate. You should have just failed it on the spot.

    The test line-up was thin and the tests were a bit rough and ready. In addition, I would have liked to see how today's versions of Stuffit measures up against the competition, too. It was one of the original drag and drop archive applications and goes back 25 years (yes, twenty five) to 1987.

    There is room for a bit of common sense with basic file sizes and it doesn't take any rocket science to make a difference.

    (1) A good way to save disk space and bandwidth is to use RTF files instead of DOC for basic text documents.

    (2) Set the compression for PDF files when exporting and scale/crop pictures to the right size and resolution BEFORE putting them into a layout or document.

    Re-compressing PDFs later just means that the software used to generate the original PDF either wasn't set up properly or isn't fit for purpose. Or both.

    • NotSo Fast
      May 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Phil Katz also stole code word for word (mispellings included) from SEA.

  43. Garey Boone
    December 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Here is an article by Justin Pot on PeaZip that might shed a little more info the website for PeaZip is a little bland the article is from 2010 so it's dated and some features may have changed. //

  44. Orun Bhuiyan
    December 28, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Aw man, I WISH you had the native Mac OSX archiving utility in here to compare, as well as unix .tar and .gz.

    Now THAT, that would have been comprehensive.

    • Ronald Serafine
      December 28, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Hear, here!!!

  45. Brian Tonnelly
    December 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I'm no expert but doesn't it make sense that it might take 7z longer because it's compressing the files so much more than the other choices??

  46. journcy
    December 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Personally, I think 7zip wins, if just because it's free and offers more functionality than the built-in tool.
    Though I don't know about WinRAR...

  47. Mark J
    December 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    7 Zip 7z files fail the compatibility test, You need 7z to open them. I'll stick with WinRAR. As you said it just works.

  48. Ole
    December 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    How does IZArc stack up? I have been using it for years without a problem.

  49. James Reynolds
    December 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    What you fail to mention in the review is 7-zip is completely free and handle tons of file compression archives but by default they are not associated, you have to go into the settings and tick the file types you want.

    7-zip all the way for me :-)

  50. David Smith
    December 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Personally I prefer IZArc over all the compression you mentioned. Not only does it handle Zip files but Rar files as well. And you can extract ISO and CAB files. Or if you have and old ARJ, ARC, or BIN files it works great with them as well.

  51. Eric Mitchell
    December 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    What I find is that on Windows you have to jump through hoops to get non-compressed archives like TAR and most people don't have the applications to read them. Those are ideal for things like media files that are already compressed but they're only commonplace on Unix systems in my experience.

  52. Mark
    December 28, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Always use WinRaR. Especially for files haring and I am just used to it.

  53. Andrea Kosteli?
    December 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I use jZip program, it's free and it works, hm, fine... it's quick, but it's doesn't compress much (only about 10% of actual size)... I just never tried to find property to change it to compress on higher percentage

  54. John
    December 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    A feature that should also be covered that is in WinRAR, the "recovery record".

    "RAR archive format supports a special type of redundant information called a recovery record. If an archive has a recovery record, it can be repaired even in case of physical data damage due to disk failure or data losses of any other kind, provided that the damage is not too severe. "

  55. SVV
    December 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    How about peazip? You should also compare others like Izarc, stuff-it, archive-it and other stuff so you can offer a clearer verdict.

    Thanks though. I appreciate this. Keep the awesomeness coming!!

  56. Ricardo
    December 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Don't forget Haozip.
    Great one and free

    • SVV
      December 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Haozip keeps hogging memory. A background process keeps running all the time and it consumes more memory as time goes by. I used it and uninstalled it after it gave problems repeatedly.

  57. chuckzwood
    December 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Another happy 7zip user here!

  58. Mac Witty
    December 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    My experience is that zip is the best format when sending files to people you do not know very well. Most people have something to extract zip

  59. luka
    December 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    i can't believe you recommended WinZip, really. and for $29.95(!). this article is bad and you should probably feel bad too.

    in my opinion, what really matters in tools such as archiver is sufficiency. i want my program to handle compressed formats i need (zip, 7zip, rar, tar..) and don't care if it can handle 150 additional formats (like .lbr) because i don't use it. also i don't want to convert anything to .pdf or buy something on cnet. this is hilarious!

    on windows i would recommend 7zip because it's stable, easy to use and open-source

  60. tom bogan
    December 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Gr8 info. This allows us to look at the need for speed . Do we need speed to compress the file, or do we need the speed to up / down load the file. This article has helped.

  61. Garey Boone
    December 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I've used all the above tested software 7zip is the one i used for the longest time but missed the gui that winzip and winrar both offered so i decided to give PeaZip a look and haven't looked back it's both free and good looking. It handles over 150+ file formats,there's context menu and drag & drop integration and comes in a portable flavor as well as a 64bit flavor you guys should give it a shot.I'm not sure how it compares in testing but in function it works just as good as the others listed above.

  62. Douglas Mutay
    December 28, 2012 at 7:51 am

    And plus, it's free :)

  63. Douglas Mutay
    December 28, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I really recomment/prefer 7-Zip because I have found it be very efficient even in opening archive of file extension that winrar or winzip can't open. It has helped me a lot when I have tried to open file inside computer recovery dvd and even open archive done with Mac computer. So for me 7-Zip is really a must and stay on top of all others.

  64. Pax
    December 28, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Not trying to be inflammatory but I don't think you understand the history of compression algorithms and that the ZIP format became the defacto standard as far back as the DOS days because of the number of users at the time. RAR and later 7z were new efforts to improve compression ratios - which is what the results showed .

    I also don't think you realize that both JPGs and MP3s are already compressed formats (lossy data compression). Some general purpose compressor will not even attempt to compress them. I half expected to see an attempt to compress MKV and WMV files using tools that are not meant for the job.

    Sorry but this was a very badly written article with very little understanding of what each tool does, what each compression algorithm was trying to achieve (as a compromise between compression ratio and speed), what the ZIP format has done in recent years to stay competitive or that different data types require different tools.

    It served only to confuse users not familiar with this field.

    • David C
      December 29, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Default compression probably won't do much. If you crank up the compression, they will compress a percent or two unless someone already natively compressed the heck out of them. In terms of trade-off, probably not worth the time to compress unless ever megabyte counts.

    • Matt Smith
      January 2, 2013 at 2:43 am

      As I said...

      "Some readers may not find compression of any kind worthwhile for media files. These files handled are often already in a compressed format and don’t gain much benefit from being placed in a compressed archive."

      It's not a history article. Just a straightforward test with common (i.e. default) settings.

    • Anonymous
      January 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Not trying to be inflammatory, but...To be fair, read the article again.
      In the article he did talk about media files (JPGs & MP3s) being already compressed formats.
      He also explained speed Vs. compression ratio.
      I wasn't confused.

  65. Félix S. De Jesús
    December 28, 2012 at 5:02 am

    I Love Winrar, it's more simple and the interface is more light than any other Zip compressor.

  66. Junil Maharjan
    December 28, 2012 at 4:50 am

    I've always been a winrar person but with the results shown here, i think i will be taking out 7zip more. i did try is once and hard to use than winrar, which has the most simple user-friendly interface in my opinion.

  67. Rigoberto Garcia
    December 28, 2012 at 2:37 am

    I've been using WinZip many years with excellent results. Some of my colleagues use 7-Zip and also argues that the results are very good and with more compression. We are evaluating how best option for everyone. Thank you Matt and assessment that will help us ours.

  68. Anonymous
    December 28, 2012 at 12:20 am

    7zip is free, the other two aren't. 7zip can also be integrated into your own applications, again free of charge. It's a clear winner. If you're after compression software, why would you want to pay for an application that isn't as good at compressing files?

    You can easily make 7zip offer the same compression as WinRar or WinZip, and it is then just as fast. It's only slower by default because it compresses better.

  69. Anonymous
    December 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    7zip is free (open source), does the job well and extremely light on system resources. its compression speed is slow because it squeeze the files more as compare to its competitors. i have been using this tool for the last many years without having any problem. its highly recommended ..... cause open source rocks..!

  70. Sashritha Peiris
    December 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Very interesting I like WinZip

  71. Venkateswara Swamy Swarna
    December 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I don't use file compression utilities but was looking at extractors - I found the nag screen of winzip really annoying and found some problem in installing 7zip. Went for Free RAR Extract Frog. It is good and is FREE. I did use PKzip earlier. That too was good.

  72. Irman Ahmad
    December 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I've always use 7zip alongside the built in Windows 7.. Never encountered any problem so far..

  73. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    WinRAR. Aside of its nag screen (that's very easy to turn off using ResHack, sorry developer) it works well everytime. I used to try 7zip but gave it up due to reasons I don't remember anymore. I vaguely recall it's small annoyance regarding locked archive or something like that.

    • John
      December 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      I LOVE WinRAR! Plus, it's fun to say RAR, makes you sound like a dinosaur!!

  74. Anonymous
    December 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I have used WinRAR for years.

  75. Saturday Sazaran
    December 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Should have added WinAce to the nostalgia list.

  76. bben
    December 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    The kicker for me is 7-zip is FREE, as in absolutely FREE. No advertising, No nag screen (WinRar, winzip ) no limitations on how many computers you can use in on (Winrar, winzip both limited) 7-zip as many as you want, FREE. No restrictions on commercial or business usage. No problem, with 7-zip it's allowed - FREE. No registration needed (WinRar, Winzip). Just download and use. It also has a 64 bit version (also FREE) and a portable version (also FREE) And it also just works (as this article says) just as good as the rest that are not just FREE. - And, it will handle just about any compressed format you throw at it.

    Hint - It's also FREE

    • John
      December 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Did you say it was free??? LOL

    • Matt Smith
      January 2, 2013 at 2:40 am

      Winrar doesn't nag much, though. It's just trying to guilt you.

      • bben
        January 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

        That's the entire point. Winrar is NOT FREE. It is try before you buy - and if you don't pay, then you are in violation of the terms you agreed to when you downloaded it. That makes you a pirate - (more guilt) Winrar is a fine program, almost as good as the absolutely FREE 7-Zip which has no nag screens at all because it is FREE. During installation, he does say he will accept donations though. And 7-Zip is a program that would be worth paying for.

  77. Dimal Chandrasiri
    December 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    what about the UHARC software! it's a very high compression software! I can remember I got the game NFS Undeground 2 for just 400MB ( I can't remember the exact amount ) but, it took a while to extract.

  78. Timothy Liem
    December 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    always using 7zip and never get disappointed. moreover, it's open source and multiplatform.

    • Steven Cooke
      December 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

      True, the open-source aspect is a big attractor.

  79. Azhar Madia
    December 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Can you add KuaiZip in the test? Just found out about it and it beat 7z in their proprietary .kz format

    • Doc
      December 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      That's the problem...the proprietary format means that others won't be able to open the .kz files. Also sucks if you don't have a way to get the program (say, after a system crash, and you need to files to fix it). Dozens of programs can un-archive RAR, ZIP, 7Z, and other more common formats, including "portable" programs that can be accessed from a thumbdrive or other portable media, without installation.

      • Azhar Madia
        December 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

        good point, but I don't actually plan to use .kz format, just need to know how does it compete with others when creating standard .zip format (and from the website, KuaiZip can create .7z format too).

  80. MistaAkJo
    December 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Still waiting for my WinRAR to expire...

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Why would you do that, I wonder? It continues to work normally even after the 40-days trial expires. You'll get a nag screen everytime you launch the program, but that's all.

      • Michael Pollente
        December 27, 2012 at 11:01 pm

        I'm pretty sure that he was joking.

        • Anandu B Ajith
          December 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

          Winrar is a shareware

      • Sary
        January 3, 2013 at 11:17 am

        This nag screen is annoying to me so I use 7-zip, I also care about size.

    • Matt Smith
      January 2, 2013 at 2:40 am

      It's not gonna happen!

  81. Yiz Borol
    December 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Its unclear from your graphs which compression format is best, I would think that .rar and .zip are completely different and each have strengths also you didn't really mention anything proprietary....
    I would find it interesting if you could provide a test with many different special formats and tested which format did compression best for different types of files.

  82. Scott Macmillan
    December 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I'll be sticking with Winrar.Its simple and works well every time.