7-Zip File Extractor Review

Free tool integrates with Windows Explorer and supports encryption

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

7-Zip creates archives with the 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.

list of folders in 7-Zip
What We Like
  • Can be used in a commercial environment.

  • Supports both a graphical user interface and a command-line interface.

  • Setup doesn't try to install extra software.

What We Don't Like
  • No portable option available from the developer.

7-Zip Features

Here are some other features worth mentioning:

  • Integrates with the Windows Explorer context menu
  • Associate the program with any file extension of your choosing to make opening files easier
  • Supports encryption when creating new archives
  • Can build self-extracting executable archives
  • Can calculate checksums from the context menu
  • For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zip provides a compression ratio that is 2-10 percent 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 dozens of languages

Compatible Formats

These are the file extensions 7-Zip can open, followed by the ones that it supports creating:

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, ZIPX

Compress To

7Z, TAR, WIM, ZIP

Security Options

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.

The program 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 having to open the full program. Using Explorer can speed up the decompression process.

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

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