Best free compression (zip unzip) programs, including repair, automation and security tools

Windows extracts and creates zip archives natively. However you may need more functions and flexibility. Here is a selection of compression (zip / unzip) free programs you may find useful. I have included also programs that extract zipped archives automatically by monitoring certain folders, programs that will help you repair a zip archive if it is damaged or help you recover this forgotten password you used when you compressed your files.

Bandizip is a free, reliable and powerful archiver that supports all formats you may need, from zip, rar and cab to 7z, tar, iso…
An impressive aspect of Bandizip is its pleasant modern interface. You may like to uninstall your current archiver just to enjoy the minimal interface of Bandizip.

7-Zip is powerful, convenient, light and, as any on these pages, free. Most of all: it works – all the time, without problems. It supports a lot of formats for packing and unpacking, encryption, and the creation of self extracting archives. It’s interface could be better, but it works even through a context menu in Windows Explorer. 7-Zip will also let you split an archive into volumes. It does not offer repair functions.

PeaZip is larger than 7-Zip, it supports as most zip / unzip utilities, a lot of compression formats and of course its own PEA format which focuses on security. PeaZip provides also repair options for damaged archives. It converts archive formats, tests archives, even rotates and crops images. I must admit that for image editing and similar operations I prefer to use other tools. I also stopped using it because it didn’t work always as expected (this may have been fixed in subsequent versions, if you are curious, go ahead and try it).

TUGZip supports BIN, C2D, IMG, ISO and NRG disc-images, external plugins, context menu integration, Scripting which allows you to make automated backups, self-extracting encrypted archives, and more. However I had to remove it because it does not extract files with names containing accented characters – Greek, French, etc. This may have been fixed now; especially if you need scripting, go ahead and try it!

ExtractNow will let you extract multiple archives easily. You can drag and drop them into the program’s window, or right-click on them in Windows Explorer. ExtractNow supports ZIP, RAR and some more formats. It can also monitor one or more folders and unzip the archives as soon as they appear on those folders, a function that you won’t find in most other archivers. (RARZombie offers this option but only for RAR archives, not zip or any other format.)

IZArc archiver features an easy-to-use interface, support for most compressed and encoded files, drag and drop, multiple archives spanning disks, self-extracting archives, repair of damaged zip archives, converting from one archive type to another, and more. IZarck sometimes crashes when using shell integration (this may have been fixed now). Note also that it comes with bundled software you may have problems to avoid.

MyZippa is a nice choice if you need to compress several (and many) folders. Your antivirus program may give an alert, but the MyZippa is clean. If you find yourself archiving the same folders frequently and selecting the same options, MyZippa will save you hours of time. Once you’ve added all your folders and selected your archiving options, you can save them to a profile. Profiles can be quickly loaded and run. You can have as many profiles as you like. It can create an archive per selected folder or combine all selected folders into one archive file; Multiple include and exclude masks for file selection; FTP capability to upload created archives to an FTP server.

Object FIX ZIP repairs corrupt or partially downloaded archives. It will reconstruct a zip archive by creating a new archive having recovered the contents of the faulty archive to the maximum possible degree. ZIP Repair and Zip2Fix are similar programs you can try if Object FIX ZIP won’t give you joy! Check also Zip Password Finder in case you forgot this password you used for your archive.

AZip lets you search an archive without extracting anything. You can search for a file name or even file contents. Functioning as an updater, the program lets you update an archive with only new or modified files. The program supports also archive recompression and encryption.

* Check this post if you need to compress at once individually each folder or each file in a folder in zip or other formats