To extract and compress your files, 7-Zip is a perfectly viable alternative to the better known WinZip or WinRAR. The application works exactly like its main competitors yet manages to mix in WinZip’s selection of tools with WinRAR’s versatility.
The 7-Zip interface is similar to that of its competitors, with a main file manager and a command line to search and select files to extract or compress. The control panel is comprised of the essential buttons like extract, add and test, but also features copy, move and delete functions to allow you to manage your files. 7-Zip extracts and compresses files as fast as WinZip and WinRAR and handles the main archive formats like ZIP, TAR, RAR and ISO.
The archiving process is where 7-Zip differs most from its rivals. Where WinZip only lets you compress to ZIP and WinRAR to RAR or ZIP, 7-Zip offers you up to 5 different archive formats to choose from. The application lets you choose the update mode, depending on whether you want to add and replace files, refresh the archive or just synchronize files. If you don’t want somebody opening up your archive without your permission, you can set a password to protect your archive.We particularly liked the split tool because it can cut up your archive into equal parts which fit on a floppy, CD or DVD, handy if you need to distribute a particularly large archive.
Security is where 7-Zip lags behind its main rivals. There is no option to scan archives for viruses and you can’t repair damaged or corrupted files. While you can set a password to protect your archive, you can’t choose between different levels of encryption.
7-Zip might not be as secure as WinZip or WinRAR but it is definitely more versatile. It works with more archive formats and offers many useful tools like update mode or splitting. If you feel too limited by WinZip and if you don’t like WinRAR we suggest giving 7-Zip a try and taking advantage of all its possibilities.