7-Zip File Extractor Review

Free tool integrates with Windows Explorer and supports encryption

Screenshot of 7-Zip in Windows 10
7-Zip.

7-Zip is a popular free file extractor program based on open source. It works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Linux via command line. Since it is published by the Free Software Foundation, you can freely share 7-Zip with others under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License.

7-Zip creates 7z-format archives with a .7z file extension. It's easy to use, works with Windows Shell, supports encryption, and is completely free for both personal and commercial use. While Windows does include its own built-in compression tool, its functions are limited. Windows can only read and create ZIP files and you can't repair damaged archives.

Security is also an issue with Windows. If you use the Windows compression tool, you won't be able to encrypt the file. In fact, it will decrypt a formerly encrypted file.

Ukrainian freelance programmer Igor Pavlov owns the 7-Zip Copyright (C) and released the beta version in January 1999.

Pros

  • Integrates with the Windows Explorer context menu
  • Supports encryption when creating new archives
  • Does not require registration
  • Can be used in a commercial environment
  • Can build self-extracting executable archives
  • Can calculate checksums from the context menu
  • Setup doesn't try to install extra software
  • 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
  • Supports both a graphical user interface and a command-line interface

Cons

  • No portable option is available from the developer

Extract From

001 (002, etc.), 7Z, ARJ, BZ2, BZIP2, CAB, CHM, CHW, CPIO, CRAMFS, DEB, DMG, DOC, EXE, FAT, GZ, GZIP, HFS, HXS, ISO, LHA, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NTFS, PPT, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SQUASHFS, SWM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TBZ2, TGZ, VDI, VDMK, VHD, WIM, XAR, XLS, XZ, Z01 (Z02, etc.), Z, ZIP, and ZIPX

Compress To

7Z, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, WIM, XZ, and ZIP

Security Options

7-Zip can password-protect 7Z and ZIP archive formats with 256-bit AES encryption.

7-Zip Review

7-Zip is one of the easiest decompression software programs to use for both unzipping and creating archives, even if it doesn't support the vast number of unpacking formats like PeaZip. Other decompression programs support file unzipping, but because 7-Zip is installed closely with Windows Shell, right-clicking to extract an archive is very straight-forward.

7-Zip includes a built-in file browser that can locate or extract archives. You can also test an archive. 7-Zip adheres to most Windows Explorer standards except that, unlike Windows, 7-Zip displays hidden files.

Since the file browser is basically the same as File/Windows Explorer, you can also choose to use the Windows Shell integration to create and extract archive files rather than use 7-Zip. This means that you may rarely use 7-Zip's growers or open the 7-Zip File Manager program, but instead use the context menu in Windows Explorer. Using Windows Explorer can speed up the decompression process.

While the official 7-Zip website does not include a portable setup, you can grab one at PortableApps.com