Having at least one unzip software at your disposal is a must, considering that many files that you download from the Internet or receive from colleagues are compressed to save up bandwidth during file transfers. Another reason why files are compressed is that you can add multiple files to a single archive which, in turn, improves manageability.
Some operating systems come with basic support for unzipping files. Windows 7 for instance can unzip zip files without third party tools. Then again, most users will encounter other compression formats such as 7z or rar eventually which means that they do not a third party software to unpack those files on their computer system.
I'd like to share the two programs that I use for the purpose. Wait, two programs? Yes, I'm using two programs to unzip files on my PC.
7-zip is a classic unzip software that supports a wide variety of formats. It can pack and unpack formats such as zip, gzip, tar or 7z, and unpack only compression formats such as rar, iso, msi, cab or dmg.
The program integrates into Windows Explorer, so that it becomes possible to quickly unpack compressed files with a right-click on the file. It furthermore comes with a graphical user interface that can be used as well to pack or unpack files in the operating system.
I use 7-Zip to compress files and to unpack single archives on my computer. It's extensive support of compression formats makes it ideal for those two tasks.
Update: I switched to the excellent Bandizip in recent years, as it supports the very same things that 7-Zip supports, and then some.
Have you ever downloaded or transferred many compressed files at once? I did, and that's where I realized that 7-Zip was not the best program for those situations. Say you have a directory full of compressed files, some split into multiple files.
The best tool for this situation is Extract Now which integrates into Windows Explorer as well. Simply right-click the folder containing the compressed files and select Search for archives from the context menu.
Extract Now will locate all archives in the folder. The unzip software can be configured to extract all archives automatically, or after user input only. The program can also be configured to monitor directories to unpack new archives that are stored in the directories automatically.
In short; I use 7-zip to pack and unpack individual files, and Extract Now to mass extract compressed files in a directory.
Which unzip software do you use? Let me know in the comments.
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