I'm using a combination of the popular 7-zip archiver and the multiple archive extraction tool Extract Now for all my archiving needs.
Hamster Free Zip Archiver caught my eye, not necessarily because of its functionality, but because of its nice design and interface.
The free software program can be used to create or extract archives. It supports both zip and 7z on the creating side and more than fourty archiving formats on the extraction side of things. Popular file extensions that it supports include rar, iso, gz or tar.
Configuration options are kept to a minimum which some experienced users may not like. There are for instance only four options to chose from when creating new archives. This includes the output format (zip or 7z), the compression level (minimum, optimal and maximum), the optional splitting of archives and password protection.
You cannot use the program to create self-extracting archives and there are not any file integrity checks for created archives either. Not all users require these features though.
New files are added via drag and drop or the built-in file browser. The archive is created with a click on Compress or by dragging and dropping the icon in the upper right corner to a folder or desktop on the system.
All options are displayed in the top row of the archive creation interface. You select the name and destination folder there, and can change the compression level right away. You need to click on the settings icon for that archive, however, to change the archive format, compression method, and volume split and encryption options.
Archives can be extracted in the main user interface by using the file browser to select them or by dragging and dropping them to the program window. The file browser did not filter supported file formats correctly. The default archive files filter displayed none, even if archives were located in the selected folder.
Free Zip Archiver integrates automatically with the Windows Explorer context menu which can also be used to unpack archives or create new archives directly from the default Windows file management tool.
A compact version of the interface is available which basically reduces it to an always on top drag and drop interface. Just drag and drop archives on the icon to unpack them to the local computer system.
Here is a short video that demonstrates some of the program's features.
Free Zip Archiver is a program for the Microsoft Windows operating system. It is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7. It requires the Microsoft .NET Framework and will download files from the Internet during installation. Downloads are offered at the developer website over at Hamstersoft.
Hamstersoft Free Zip Archiver is a well-designed program for Windows. While it is certainly suitable for many use-cases, I have to admit that I prefer programs like Bandizip that are more powerful.
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