What is the best file compressor? WinZip, WinRAR, or will it be 7-Zip? Let’s analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the most famous and used file compressors of all time.
A data compressor has the purpose of reducing the space occupied by one or several files through compression algorithms, which may be proprietary or freely distributed.
In the days of floppy disks, when data storage was scarce and expensive, they were very useful for storing more data in less space. Today its most common use is to gather several files or folders and store them in a single compressed file and thus be able to share it more comfortably.
When Windows still coexisted with MS-DOS and was not an operating system per se, but ran as an application of the operating system, the compressors worked based on the command line, such as RAR, ZIP or the disappeared ARJ, adopting the names of WinRAR and WinZip by including a GUI for Windows.
The appearance of 7-Zip already included a GUI, since in 1999 Windows 95 and 98 had been released, which (although not really) were graphical interface operating systems independent of MS-DOS.
This compressor software, and also file decompressor, dates from April 1995 , although its version without a graphical interface is from 1993. Version 1.54b of 1995 was released for Windows 3.x and this was the first to be called WinRAR as it included an interface graphic, previous versions were used with the command line under MS-DOS, although with the current ones they can also do it.
The software is developed by RARLab using a proprietary algorithm called Roshal Archive and is licensed by win.rar GmbH. The format has been developed by Russian software engineer Eugene Roshal and is distributed by his brother Alexander Roshal.
The stable versions are available on its website along with the latest betas in various languages, as well as versions for different operating systems in addition to Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and the version for macOS.
When installing WinRAR it is done in trial mode for 40 days, then we must buy the license or uninstall it from the PC, the license costs $36.24, a little less if you are a student or you are going to buy several. You can simulate the cost on their website.
WinRAR is capable of compressing in RAR or ZIP format and is also capable of uncompressing CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, UEE, BZ2, JAR, ISO, 7Z, XZ, and Z archives in addition to these two formats . . WinRAR uses a graphical interface as good as the command line.
Some of the main features Of WinRAR:
- Original compression algorithm.
- Wizard and Drag and Drop function.
- It can be used on the command line.
- Solid compression, you can increase compression up to 50% when compressing many similar files.
- Multivolume or self-extracting archives, or both.
- Compressed file recovery for damaged parts of multivolume.
WinRAR offers a number of advantages over other compressors/decompressors such as a higher compression ratio than others, especially for executable files, object libraries, and large text files. Its compression algorithm is highly optimized for multimedia data and for robust compression.
WinRAR promises us to be faster than others in most cases, we will test this later. In addition, if we are going to send data over the Internet, it offers us its 256-bit password encryption and authenticated signature technology for our peace of mind.
In the graphic aspect, WinRAR also offers us, for free, themes to be able to customize the appearance of WinRAR , it will not help us to compress better and faster, but it will please our eyes when using it.
WinZip was the first to appear, in 1991 as a graphical interface for the PKZIP compressor, which was required to be installed together with it. But it was in 1993 that they included the compression algorithm of the Info-ZIP project, eliminating the need to use PKZIP.
Initially, WinZip was developed by Nico Mark Computing, and later in 2006, Corel acquired WinZip to become part of its software empire. WinZip can be downloaded for free from its website, but we will have 30 days to test it , once the trial period has passed we must buy it for $36.24, the same cost as WinRAR.
WinZip has several versions with improved functions in addition to compressing or decompressing, WinZip Pro that adds functions such as scanning or capturing, automatic backup, viewing the content of files on our computer and compatible services in the cloud. Also WinZip Courier , to send large files via email or with advanced compression features.
This compressor, as its name suggests, can compress in ZIP and ZIPX format which was originally developed by Phil Katz in 1989, but it also decompresses most formats like Zip, Zipx, RAR, 7Zip, BZ2, LHA/LZH, VDH /VDMK, XZ and more. Also, if we have purchased the license, we can use Zip on the command line.
The main Features Of WinZip:
- Drag and drop to create compressed files.
- Faster app startup.
- Unzip with one click.
- Replace Zip files with their content.
- Create split Zip files from explorer.
- MP3 compression up to 15-20% more without quality loss.
- Touch screen compatibility.
Already in version 24.0, WinZip offers a number of new features that can make it stand out from other compressors, for example, creating a backup from Explorer, better compression in Zipx files or combine several PDFs into one , some functions require the Pro version of WinZip. Some aspects have also been improved, such as the possibility of switching more easily between the ZIP or Zipx formats when compressing.
On the security side, WinZip is also capable of 256-bit encryption with FIPS-197 certified and secure AES encryption. With just one button we can create an encrypted Zip, update an already encrypted one by adding more files or encrypt one that was not.
This software is the most recent of the 3, released in July 1999, it uses the 7z compression format. 7-Zip is available for Windows in several languages, and it also allows us to download older versions from its website. 7-Zip is even compatible with Windows XP, 2000 or NT, as well as newer versions. There is also a Linux version, p7zip.
Both 7-Zip and the 7z format are developed by Igor Pavlov, 7-Zip is a very light software that does not take up much space and does not consume many resources. In addition, it is available in 86 languages, so that everyone can understand it.
The main difference between 7-Zip and the others is that it is free under the GNU LGPL license and its code is free, we can find it at Sourceforge . You can install 7-Zip on any computer whether for personal or professional use, we will not have to pay anything for its use or installation.
The main features of 7-Zip are:
- High compression ratio in the 7z format, with LZMA and LZMA2 compression.
- Compress and decompress in 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM formats.
- It also unzips ARJ, CAB, ISO, LZH, MSI, RAR, XAR, Z and many other formats.
- 7-Zip provides a 2-10% better compression ratio than PKZip or WiZip in ZIP and GZIP formats.
- Self-extracting for 7z formats.
- Advanced file explorer, just like its command line version.
- Integration with Windows.
In the security section, we have strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats , also in 7z format you can encrypt the file name. It also supports ZIP file encryptions with the WinZip standard.
WinRAR vs. WinZip vs. 7-Zip
Let’s really see how good they are compared to each other, for this we will perform some tests on file compression . We will use a folder with several files, quite large, and a single executable file, so we can tell the difference.
For the test of a folder with several files we have chosen the game for Windows SOMA that uncompressed occupies something more than 20 Gb and has more than 40,000 files and 2805 folders .
To compress the folder in the different formats we have used the quick utility integrated in the Windows menu, without modifying the options that come by default . In the speed section we can see who has taken the least time to complete the task, but the final times will depend on the team we have.
The clear winner in this case is 7-Zip with its 7z format. It has managed to reduce the folder of more than 20 Gb in less than 10 Gb , saving us more than half of the space it occupies and having to transport a single file. However, it is the one that has spent the most time with a total of 24 minutes and 26 seconds.
In second place is WinRAR and its RAR format, which has left the compressed file in about 11 Gb , but has managed to do it in less time , for this operation it has taken 16 minutes and 51 seconds, taking 2/3 of what it took 7-Zip. It should be noted that, when starting the compression, it is very easy to modify the speed and compression parameters, giving priority to one of these or leaving it in a balanced mode, which is the one used by default.
WinZip is the one that has performed the least compression, with just over 11Gb of final file , but it is the one that has used the least time , using only 14 minutes and 40 seconds. WinZip, like the rest, has a built-in option to compress quickly with just one click, but it takes the longest to open the application and will show us an uncomfortable window to accept that we want to use the trial version if we have not paid license.
For the test of 1 single file, we have used an installation file of the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis game, which occupies 235Mb , it is also packaged in an EXE executable file, let’s see how good they are at compressing what is presumably already compressed.
On this occasion it has been WinRAR with its RAR format that has been able to compress the most, leaving the file at 221 Mb . Regarding the time, in just 16 seconds, it has managed to finish with the default compression configuration.
The second one that has managed to compress the most has been 7-Zip in 7z format, it has only occupied 2 Mb more, staying at 223 Mb in total . However, it has taken less than WinRAR and achieved it in just 12 seconds, just by using a single click on the pop-up menu, without changing any parameters.
In third position is WinZip, it has left an archive of 226 Mb , 3 more than 7-Zip and 5 more than WinRAR, on the contrary, in just 7 seconds it has performed the compression . Just by clicking on the context menu and adding to the file.
If we want to compress to save space (and money) and we don’t care how long it may take, we have seen how 7-Zip leaves the final file in less space than the rest when it comes to many files that take up a lot, added to its license GNU LGPL , which will not make us pay anything to have this software, becomes a very good option.
Something more balanced is WinRAR, where the saving of space and the time used to compress is a medium term , yes, we must pay when the trial period is over to be able to continue using it.
WinZip is the fastest of all, it also offers many functions and has a more complete software that even makes backup copies or integrates with the cloud, this is your choice if you are going to use this software more professionally, yes, for all this you should buy the Pro version.