You can’t open archived files on a computer without some sort of utility. Not all file compression software is created equal. Some claim to be the best for any and all situations, but are hindered by poor coding, a horrid interface and limited computability for some common file formats.
With an impressively petite file size, and lightning fast speed, 7-Zip ranks high on the file decompression food chain. Some people complain about it’s layout being a little too simple, or even down right ugly. Because Because 7-Zip is an open source utility, there is really nothing stopping those people who complain about the GUI from making a more attractive graphic user interface if they so pleased.
WinRAR is a nice little shareware alternative for those who want a more robust graphics interface than 7-Zip provides by default. The full version of WinRAR costs $29, if you’re okay with prompts that remind you that registering the utility is always an option, you can still use most of it’s features without paying a dime. What’s it’s advantage over 7-Zip? WinRAR can create .rar files, while 7-Zip can only decompress them.
As the healthy medium between WinRAR and 7-Zip, PeaZip is the ideal utility to use if you can’t decide with of the other two programs suit your needs best. It has an attractive user interface, is open source, runs on Linux and Windows computers, and has a portable edition you can load off a thumb drive.
So, which of these three impressive archiving utilities should you use? It depends on how you wish to interact with compressed files. If you want to simply access archived files, either 7-Zip or PeaZip would be the way to go. No financial commitments are required for using either.
Do you intend to create archived files? If so, what file format are you interested in using? while all three utilities mentioned are capable of handling .rar files, but only WinRAR can be used to create them. all three have very good compression rates, but WinRAR isn’t Open Source.
If you ever find yourself participating in a lot of file sharing, WinRAR may be the way to go if you have a lot to contribute to the community. $29 isn’t really that expensive, so paying for the full version won’t break the bank anyway. The .rar file format has become somewhat of a staple in file sharing communities.