FreeWare Review: 7-Zip Archive Utility

The Free Alternative to WinZip – 7-Zip Review

Perhaps one of the biggest needs that any computer user will have is of a utility to extract the contents of archives they download from the internet. Half the time you download something, particularly if you’re downloading free software, it’s packed up in a zip file–or occasionally some other kind of archive. ¬†Hence where 7-Zip comes in, and my 7-Zip review.

Ever since XP you can, of course, always use Windows’ built in unzip utility. But what if you need to open an archive other than a zip? What if you need to compress something that maybe you want to, say, span multiple files so you can fit it onto CD’s or DVD’s? Well then you’re kind of screwed, aren’t you? In those instances you’ve got to get yourself out there, spend a little money, and pony up for WinZip. Except, of course, you don’t.

Mr. Igor Pavlov (don’t ask about his dog, trust me) has you covered for virtually any type of archive you want to extract and pretty much any type of operation you want to do with your archives with his fantastic free software 7-Zip. Available in both 32(x86) and 64(x64, don’t ask) bit native versions for those of you who use a 64 bit version of Windows (I do). Beyond the obvious beauty of being free for all comers, business and personal alike, 7-Zip also has comes with the virtue of being a very light app. It’s tiny so it uses very little disk space and has a small memory footprint. But on top of those niceties it’s also very well featured. You downloaded a RAR file? No problem. TAR? GZ? No problem again. In fact, there are a good 25+ formats that the software supports (including 7-Zip’s own 7z format, which in many cases compresses better than Zip does), so chances are that if you can download it, 7-Zip can extract it for you. One obvious exception: 7-zip cannot extract the ACE archive format for reasons that are primarily related to licensing (see their FAQ for more info, but for most people it’ll be enough to know it’s not supported).

As if all this goodness weren’t enough though, Mr. Pavlov has also been kind enough to provide users with the ability to create virtually any kind of archive and to define the parameters of that archive’s creation. Need to back up 3 CD’s worth of data? No problem, create an archive set that breaks the archive into 650MB volumes you can easily burn onto separate CD’s (handy if you don’t have a DVD burner or you’re such a cheap-ass that you won’t waste the extra 2GB of space). Multiple size options are available by default, and better yet you can specify the size of the archive you want around whatever parameters are important to you. I’m a fan of flexibility, and this software certainly offers it up in heaps. If you’re a human with Windows and a need for a more powerful archiver than the built in Windows tool, 7-zip is worth a look, especially if you’re on a budget. And in this market, who the hell isn’t?

Final Judgment: Highly recommended, a very robust archive tool at an excellent price.

Website and Download: 7-Zip (remember it’s Dot Org, not Dot Com!)

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