The Top 3 File Compression & Extraction Softwares

Ben Stegner 13-01-2017

Everyone should keep a file compression and extraction tool installed. It’s one of those essential PC tools New PC? 15 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First Got a new computer or just reinstalled Windows? These essential apps are must-have software for Windows 10, no matter what! Read More . Windows includes basic functionality to zip and unzip files, but it’s extremely limited.


Here are three of our favorite tools for dealing with compressed files.

1. 7-Zip

7-Zip is a no-frills, powerful compression utility. It’s a household name of open-source software, works on every version of Windows since 2000, and it’s completely free for home or business use with no registration required. It’s available in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, and clocks in at a tiny 1 MB, making it a lightweight application. If you prefer, you can also use 7-Zip as a portable application. Either way, it installs in seconds.


When it’s time to work with compressed files, you can open 7-Zip on its own and browse out to a directory, or just use its File Explorer integration. Right-clicking on a file lets you access the 7-Zip menu, which can extract files, zip them up, or view what’s inside with just one click.

7-Zip supports a load of formats How to Extract Files From ZIP, RAR, 7z and Other Common Archives Were you ever faced with a .rar file and wondered how to open it? Fortunately, managing ZIP files and other compressed archives is simple with the right tools. Here is what you need to know. Read More , including 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM. The 7z format provides a high compression ratio for large files, and geeks will love the app’s command line integration.


On the negative side, 7-Zip’s interface is pretty ugly; it also makes the icons for compressed files look ancient. To remedy this, our friends at How-To Geek have shown how to customize 7-Zip to make it look far better.

Overall, 7-Zip is great if you want a solid tool for any compressed files thrown your way and don’t mind Spartan presentation.

Download: 7-Zip

2. PeaZip

While 7-Zip is a classic favorite, PeaZip might be the best option for most users. It’s not as slim as 7-Zip, but PeaZip uses its extra size wisely on user-friendliness and attractive aesthetics. Novice users can install it quickly with default options, but those who want to tweak its behavior have plenty to change during the installation and in the menus.



PeaZip features a clean interface and an easy-to-use file browser in the program itself, giving it a leg up on 7-Zip. Language is also much friendlier than the cold technicality of 7-Zip, letting the user pick between “best compression” and “no extraction software needed by the user” instead of confusing file formats and the like.

Additionally, PeaZip can convert compressed archives to other formats, and repair damaged files. It also uses easy-to-understand shortcuts in the right-click menu when you’re browsing the File Explorer, and you won’t find any ugly icons here. It, too, is open-source and available in a portable version.

PeaZip is an attractive tool that’s great for beginners and advanced users alike, and we’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t know which archiving tool to try.


Download: PeaZip

3. Zipware

For those who prefer to keep everything simple, Zipware is a great choice. Aside from (optionally) choosing which formats you’d like to associate with the program at installation, you can start using the software without any setup. Its large buttons are easy to understand and present the majority of functions the average user needs in one bar.


Zipware includes the standard right-click shortcuts, and allows you to drag and drop zipped files into its main window if you prefer. One nice touch is the program’s ability to upload files to VirusTotal to check them for infection without even leaving your desktop.


Overall, Zipware isn’t the most powerful compression tool available, but it offers a great feature set at an impressive speed. We’d recommend it to anyone who didn’t appreciate the advanced offerings of 7-Zip or PeaZip.

Download: Zipware

A Note on Paid Tools

You’ll notice that each of these three programs are totally free. There’s a reason for that — while plenty of software is worth paying for, compression utilities aren’t one of them. Any of the three above tools will take care of 99% of people’s compression needs.

Paying $35 for WinZip for $29 for WinRAR is a complete waste of money that you can put towards better purchases. Those tools might offer a wealth of options, but the average person won’t use them.

What’s Your Go-To Archiving Software?

We’ve touched on just a few of the many file compression tools for Windows. Plenty of alternative programs offer a stronger feature set or compatibility with more formats, but we like the above three tools for their ubiquity, balanced feature sets, and ease of use. If you work with zipped files all the time, you might require advanced software, but most folks will have a fine time with any of these three tools.

Not sure what this compression talk is all about? Check out how file compression works 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 .

Did we miss your favorite archiving software in the above list? Let us know which tool you can’t live without by leaving a comment!

Related topics: File Compression, File Management.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Gildawie
    December 27, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Best FREE compression software is BANDIZIP

  2. Simon King
    April 9, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    You missed ZIPmagic.

    Extremely affordable, and the only one in the roundup to include transparent disk compression!

  3. Matt
    August 17, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    WinRAR is required if you want to CREATE RAR, many other free or paid programs offer extraction but never creation.

    7-Zip's 7Z format is open - several other programs can compress to it, and is a pretty decent option for "better than ZIP" compression. To be precise, 7Z is actually a container format which can be used for a number of compression methods - default and usually best, is LZMA2, but LZMA (compression might be better, but weaker multithreading), PPMd (good for text, and probably other files of mostly text structure) and BZIP2 (also text optimised) are available, as are some additional transform options that can assist in specific cases - there is an option to auto-analyse for the transform options. There are also advanced tweaking options that trade speed for extra compression - even for standard compatible ZIP

    PS. Having picked up a freebie (I think it was via BDJ), I quite like Powerarchiver 2016, though it needs some tweaking to disable "patchbeam" otherwise it tries to update and blows away the freebie licence - I had a previous giveaway and lost it!

  4. Kelli
    January 30, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Are any of these compatible with windows 10

    • Ben Stegner
      January 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      Yes, any of these three will work fine with Windows 10. I tested them all on Windows 10 when rewriting this article!

  5. Doc
    January 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Ben, there's no such word as "softwares" - Firefox even underlines it as a typo for me. Like "sheep" or "deer," "software" is its own plural.

    • Ben Stegner
      January 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Doc, thanks for pointing this out. This was actually a rewrite of a very old article on the site, from around 2009. Because rewrites keep the same URL, the title has to remain the same for consistency. Thus, the title here is out of my control. I agree with you though, "softwares" sounded weird to me right away!

  6. Marios T.
    January 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    I'd take Bandizip over any of these.