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7-Zip is the free file compression software that brought the world the 7z archive type. This program is quite similar to other compression programs such as WinRAR and WinZip, but is capable of handling a much larger array of compressed file types. 7-Zip is also available for Mac and Linux users. Some users feel that 7-Zip's lack of features and dubious user friendliness reflect negatively upon the program.
7-Zip contains several of the same features as most other compression programs. These include support for multiple volumes, password protection and compatibility with Microsoft Outlook. However, the program doesn't provide much else that makes it better than other compression software out there.
One big benefit of this particular software is that is integrates into Windows Explorer, allowing you to right-click to access 7-Zip's functions. The software also lets you compress files in batches or extract them using shortcut keys or drag-and-drop. 7-Zip lets you make self-extracting files, but this feature requires you to download and install secondary plugins from 7-Zip's site.
It would be ideal if future updates to the program included the ability to extract batches of files, archive conversion and a feature that displays the compression rate.
Many users consider 7-Zip's rate of compression to be good, and tests have shown it to do better than WinZip by about 17 percent. Similar to other programs, 7-Zip's compression worked best with Excel and Word documents. The best performance this program has to offer comes when using the 7z compression format.
Compared to some other compression programs, 7-Zip's file type compatibility is rather limited. While the program handles common file types like .zip and .rar, the only unique file types it supports are 7z and .tar files.
As is the case with many free programs, 7-Zip includes limited tech support. However, the forum is very active and helpful.
If you want a compression program that is free and functional, then 7-Zip won't do your wrong. However, people who are a bit more experienced with file compression software will be able to get the most out of 7-Zip.