Windows has built-in Zip folder called Compressed Folder but offers very limited capabilities and it’s not user-friendly at all to use. WinZip is the first one on the market that offers more with compressing files but it’s not free and has its own limitations as well. There are plenty alternatives out there that you can choose from but here are 3 of them that are not only free but also feature-rich and do get the job done nicely.
Obviously, 7-Zip is one of the best ones and arguably the most popular one on the market. It’s an open source software that you can run on any computer, even in a commercial environment. There is no need to pay or register to use 7-Zip.
The main features of 7-Zip include:
- High compression ratio in 7z format with LZMA and LZMA2 compression
- Supported formats:
- Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM
- Unpacking only: AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VMDK, WIM, XAR and Z.
- For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zip provides a compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than the ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip
- Strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats
- Self-extracting capability for 7z format
- Integration with Windows Shell
- Powerful File Manager
- Powerful command-line version
- Plugin for FAR Manager
- Localizations for 87 languages
It works in all versions of Windows with the support of both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
Bandizip is a lightweight, fast and free All-In-One Zip Archiver. It has a very fast Zip algorithm for compression & extraction with Fast Drag and Drop, High-Speed Archiving, and Multi-core compression.
The main features of BandiZip include:
- Compression and Extraction:
Zip(z01), ZipX(zx01), TAR, TGZ, LZH, ISO, 7Z(7z.001), and EXE(e01).
- Extraction Only:
RAR(part1.rar, r01), ACE, AES, ALZ, APK, ARJ, BH, BIN, BZ, BZ2, CAB, EGG, GZ, J2J, JAR, IMG, IPA, ISZ, LHA, LZMA, PMA, TBZ, TBZ2, TGZ, TLZ, TXZ, UDF, WAR, WIM, XPI, XZ, and Z.
- Support for Unicode to display international characters.
- Bypass files that don’t compress well using the “High-Speed Archiving” function.
- Extract files to the destination folder directly using the “Fast Drag & Drop” function.
- Create self-extracting files (.EXE) and multi-volume (split) archives.
- Optional archive encryption using ZipCrypto and AES 256.
- Context Menu access including the “Preview Archive” function.
- Create or extract multiple zip files simultaneously from windows explorer.
- Free to use at both home and in the office.
BandiZip works on any Windows, from XP all the way to Windows 10 with the support of both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. It also has a portable version for Windows and a version for Mac.
Zipware is simple and free zip software for Microsoft Windows that supports all major archiving formats including the new RAR5 format. It has been designed to be simple, fast and stable to handle both small and large archives.
The main features of Zipware include:
- Extract: ZIP, ZIPX, 7Z, RAR, RAR5, ISO, VHD, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, CPIO, XZ, DEB,DMG,RPM,XPI & more…
- Create: ZIP, 7-ZIP, EXE (create self-extracting and split/multi-volume archives)
- Create password protected archives encrypted using AES-256 encryption.
- Convert any of the archive formats listed above to zip, 7z or exe.
- Full drag and drop support with Windows Explorer.
- Perform all archiving functions from Windows Explorer using Zipware’s integrated context menu.
- Windows Explorer context menu that can scan any file using over 50 anti-virus products via VirusTotal.com
- Explorer context menu that calculates & lists sizes of all folders in a directory. Also, find & delete empty folders.
- Calculate MD5, SHA-1, and SHA-256 checksums for any file (also integrated into Explorer’s context menu).
- Password Manager for storing passwords and confidential information.
- Zipware’s program files are signed by a Verisign/Symantec digital certificate to prevent tampering after publication.
Zipware works on any Windows from XP to Windows 10, including Servers. Both 32-bit and 64-bit editions are supported.
All three alternative zipping tools listed here are good, all equipped with strong compression capability with the support of many popular archiving formats available on the market. They all have very strong encryption feature built in and they all have the straightforward user interface to work with. You will not go wrong picking any of them.