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Put Some Zip in Your File Compression with These Windows Apps

Go beyond Windows' built-in tools with this trio of winners.

Apps in this Guide

When you need to create more storage space on your computer, you can delete a file or try to make it smaller. That's where file compression apps come in. They're also handy for collecting multiple filesmore

When you need to create more storage space on your computer, you can delete a file or try to make it smaller. That's where file compression apps come in. They're also handy for collecting multiple files into one package, for sending a file to someone else, for password-protecting them, and for better organization. Here are the best file compression apps for Windows.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best way to zip some files?
Using the built-in Windows file compression, just click a file (or click-and-drag on an empty section of the screen to create a selection box that can capture multiple files), right-click on a selected file, hover the mouse pointer over the "Send to" menu, and click "Compressed (zipped) folder"; your new archive will appear within that folder, or on the desktop if you're zipping files there. The new archive will automatically use the name of one of the files within it, but you can change that at any time by clicking the archive, pressing F2, typing a new name, and pressing the Enter key.
Why not just use Windows' built-in file compression?
The built-in tool tends not to be as efficient as third-party options, so its archives take up more space on your computer. Third-party tools also integrate more options into the right-click menu, such as attaching the archive to an email or adding a selected file to a pre-existing archive.

Recommended Windows file compression apps

7-Zip

7-Zip

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7-Zip is compatible with almost all major file compression methods, and it's free. Its maker relies on donations to fund development. We recommend the regular version over the beta version, because the latter can have stability issues.

WinRAR

WinRAR

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7-Zip's .7z file format may compress more than the .rar format, but the .rar format tends to compress more than a .zip file, and .rar files can be opened by Windows' built-in file compression tool, while a .7z file cannot. This means that WinRAR's provides the best of both worlds when you want to send your archive to someone who may be unwilling or unable to go through the process of finding, downloading, and installing 7-Zip.

WinZip

WinZip

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WinZip is one of the oldest file compression apps around. Its proprietary .xzip format is worth a look if you are compressing archives over 1 gigabyte in total size, because these will take up slightly less space than the options available to 7-zip users. Prices start at $29.95, and you can optionally pay $7.95 a year to get automatically upgraded to newer versions when they become available.