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Oct 26

7-Zip

7-Zip logoWe’ve all been emailed ZIP files before, haven’t we? And Windwos does a fair job of uncompressing them, it’s fair to say, but creating them can be a bit mroe difficult. Windows will choke if there’s a blank folder, and the compression ratio isn’t great, and – what do you do if you get a file you need to compress that’s bigger than 2GB? Or need to split into parts? Or need a smaller archive?

Well, 7-Zip has the answer. Entirely free, both in terms of cost and speech wise, 7-Zip compresses files to some of the smallest around. It can create zip files and open – well, a plethora of formats (all listed in the tags below).

There’s a stable version and a beta for both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, and it allows you to open any supported file with its file manager (which will be familiar if you’ve ever seen any of the commercial ZIP utilities), and to extract files directly to a new directory, or to create them from a selection you’ve got on screen.

Compression in 7-Zip’s own LZMA archive can take a lot of memory – in its most aggressive mode, it takes about 700MB of memory to compress something – but the good news is that the faster / low-memory modes are pretty good too, and will nearly always beat a ZIP file at maximum compression. Interestingly, the ZIP compression will beat most commercial ZIP programs too, even on its standard settings. That said, it’s tempting to play with the options to try and compress each set of files as much as possible, but if you’re using ZIP files, this isn’t always a good idea, as you can end up with files other ZIP programs can’t open.

7-Zip is remarkably easy to use, and should probably feature in every Windows’ user’s desktop armoury.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Marilee

    Hi :) Is it ok if I go sorta off the subject? I am trying to read the site on my new Android phone although it doesn’t show correctly (a few of the navigation areas are pretty much broken), any solutions? Shall I try to find an fix for my browser or something? Thanks in advance! Marilee x :)

    1. avatar
      simon

      Hi Marilee,
      We honestly haven’t got to the point of doing a mobile style as yet, but it’s something I’m starting to look at. Kinda watch this space, or failing that go for Opera Mini which I’ll write a feature on soon :)
      Cheers

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