Download 7-Zip: 5 reasons why it surpasses the Windows zipper-upper

The Windows compression software is limited. Use 7-Zip instead.

With today's fast broadband speeds, it's easier than ever to send large files, or lots of smaller files, across the Internet. Windows has a built-in compression utility that enables you to zip up files and crunch them down into a single archive. The trouble is, it isn't very good.

7-Zip is a superior alternative. Here are five reasons why you should be 7z-ing your files rather than zipping them up...

1. A dedicated file compression program gives you more control over how you archive your files, the compression ratio, the container format, and whether you apply layers of security. (7-Zip, for example, supports bank-level 256-bit AES encryption).

2. The popular ZIP format isn't as efficient as newer formats. While 7-Zip provides support for ZIP files, you get better results using the software's own 7z format, which uses advanced LZMA and LZMA2 compression algorithms for superior file-squashing. The brains behind 7-Zip suggest that 7z is typically between 30% and 70% more efficient than the old ZIP format.

3. That's not to say that 7-Zip is restricted to the 7z and ZIP formats. It can also archive files into XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR and WIM containers.

4. While its archiving talents are impressive, 7-Zip can inflate considerably more file types than it can deflate, which means that you should be able to open most archive files you receive. Supported formats include: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z.

5. Did you notice the RAR support there? 7-Zip also supports the core file type of one of its biggest rivals - WinRAR. So that's ZIP and RAR covered. No need to download separate software just to extract data from those two file formats.

Ultimately, 7-Zip is quick, efficient, and easy to use. And did we mention that it's free?

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