7-Zip: Handle Compressed Files With Ease

Dennis Faas's picture

File compression is a method used to make files smaller.

Most often file compression (sometimes referred to as "archiving") is used to take a collection of files and pack them into a single, smaller file. For a good analogy: compressing a series of files would be similar to packing a suit case of clothing before a vacation trip: it's smaller, easier to transport, and when you arrive at your destination, you can unpack it.

Compressed files are often used to save storage and for sending files over email because they take up less space and travel faster when they are "packed."

Most Windows operating systems today have a method of file compression built into them. Microsoft chose to call this "Compress Folders". These folders are actually a form of a compressed file, called a "zip" file. Zip files have been around a *long* time, and Microsoft chose the zip format because it is the most popular type of file compression.

Go to this Microsoft page if you ever need help figuring out how to use zipped files or "Compressed Folders" in Windows XP. It works the same in Windows ME, but Windows 98, 98, and 2000 didn't ship with the compressed folder utilities. You can add the compressed folder feature to Windows 98 and Windows 2000, but the process is pretty complicated. A friend of mine, Me2 at the Computer Help Club, wrote up a compressed folder installer that makes it pretty easy to do. I've used it before and it works quite well.

Introducing 7-zip: A Multi-Usage Compression Program

ZIP files and compressed folders are great, but the truth is that there are probably hundreds of different compression formats. Fortunately most of the common ones can be handled by a compressed file manager like 7-zip. Here's a list of the types you may run into that 7-zip can "unpack" for you when needed: 7z, ZIP, CAB, RAR, ARJ, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, CPIO, RPM and DEB.

7-Zip isn't the answer to all compression types, but it's one of the best freeware programs available. If you would like to see a review of the very best compression programs (best archive tools), please visit my friend Mouser's website.


If you would like to be able to handle almost any type of compressed file you download, try 7-zip.

Join the rest of the freeware fanatics at Clif Notes Newsletter, today!

Rate this article: 
No votes yet