For most, if not all PC users, a file archiver is among the first apps to be installed during initial setup. There’s a good reason for it, since archived files are highly common and much of the content that we download comes in form of archives. Besides reducing overall file size, archiving is great for combining multiple files into a single file and then using that for easier, faster and more secure sharing and backup. We’ve covered a fair amount of Windows file archivers here at AddictiveTips; now it is time to decide on our and your favorite one.
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Based on my own understanding of the file archiving apps scene for desktop, there are three big names: WinRAR, WinZip, and 7-Zip. The former two are shareware, while the latter is free and open-source.
WinZip was the king back when I started my journey with personal computers, because most of us didn’t know of any other alternative. Then, as a result of being pushed by power users for better compression, WinRAR started gaining traction.
For years after that, WinRAR had been dominating the file archiving software market. It is famous for its never-ending trial period; users of sites like Reddit, 9GAG and 4chan will know that there are plenty of memes that poke fun at this behavior.
WinZip is still popular, but has taken a position second to WinRAR. It was only dethroned, in my personal opinion, because of just how bloated it became over the years. The latest version of WinZip for Windows comes with social media integration, image resizing, and support for directly uploading archives to different cloud services. WinRAR is focused on file compression and decompression, and that’s why more people prefer it. Also, WinRAR supports zip archives in addition to RAR ones, while WinZip doesn’t support RAR.
However, power users are aware of the third option, and many casual users are also learning about it. 7-Zip is free, open-source, minimal, remarkably fast, and works on all major desktop operating systems. It supports just about every archive format you can throw at it, from commonplace ones like ZIP, RAR, TAR, to unheard of ones by most such as Z and SMZIP. In addition, its own 7z format has been praised by users and critics alike for its higher level of compression compared to other available options. Despite being sparse in the user interface department, 7-Zip gets the job done.
There are plenty of other file archiving desktop apps out there as well. I’m currently experimenting with PeaZip, but I will likely go back to 7-Zip since PeaZip feels a lot slower in comparison, even if it is easier on the eyes. We also positively reviewed KuaiZip last year, praising it for its improved compression rates. Then there’s IZArc as well that’s known for its impressive format support and price tag of free.
Now, you tell us: what is your favorite archiver for Windows, and why do you think everyone should use it?