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WinRAR Isn’t the Only Compression Tool: 5 Free Substitutes

If you're looking to save storage space by archiving old files or reducing file sizes for email attachments, compression tools are a must-have. While WinRar and even WinZip is widely recognized as leading software for creating and accessing compressed file archives, it's wise to explore a few other great free alternatives.
Windows users have access to a built-in compression tool starting with XP, which can be accessed by right-clicking on folders or files and choosing 'Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder'. While this tool serves its purpose adequately for occasional tasks, it is rather restricted in its capabilities. It is exclusively designed for handling ZIP files and does not offer support for the wide range of alternative compression formats that exist. Moreover, the pre-installed Windows zip tool does not offer the option to generate multiple volumes of specific sizes, cannot repair corrupted archives, and lacks encryption support. 
Hence, many users might prefer an alternative to the built-in Windows compressor tool, and it's helpful to be well-informed about the options other than WinRAR.

1. Ashampoo

File Compression Software, Ashampoo
Image source:  Ashampoo
Ashampoo ZIP allows you to quickly and effectively reduce the size of your files. The software also offers the convenience of previewing files before extracting an archive, which can be really useful for many. 
Despite the presence of links to paid applications for dedicated encryption and decryption tools on the main splash screen, don't be deterred, as all the essential functionalities typically found in other free file compression software are found here, including archive creation, extraction, repair, and multi-volume ZIP writing.
Here are some other notable features:
• Automatically optimizes compression for optimal performance.
• Easily drag and drop files directly into the software interface.
• Automatically backs up and restores files to ensure data integrity.
• Offers advanced encryption and password security, enabling you to securely store and distribute your information.
Download: Ashampoo 

2. Express Zip

File Compression Software, Express Zip
Image source: Express Zip
Another underrated name in compression tools is Express Zip, which simplifies the compression of various files through its convenient drag-and-drop functionality.
Additionally, this software boasts convenient file sharing, accompanied by compatibility with more than thirty different formats. However, it's worth noting that it can occasionally experience sluggishness when compressing large files.
Before sharing, you can easily password-protect compressed files. Moreover, the data encryption feature ensures their safety from prying eyes. Also, users have the flexibility to select their preferred compression level, with the tool offering either fast compression with a larger file size or thorough compression at a slower pace.
Even though Express Zip offers most of its features for basic file compression for free, it does offer a commercial version for extra features.
Download: Express Zip

3. 7-Zip

File Compression Software, 7-Zip
Image source: 7-Zip
7-Zip is an open-source program, which means that it can be used commercially without restriction. It has a compact size of merely 1MB and can effortlessly pack and unpack almost any compressed file archive you want. 
One of the highlights of 7-Zip is its own compressed file format, 7z. Not only does it allow users to compress massive files (up to 16 billion gigabytes, as claimed by its developers), but it also delivers an impressively high compression rate.
The visual design of 7-Zip's interface is not particularly appealing, and the excessive number of context menu entries it generates can be slightly overwhelming. Fortunately, by navigating to the program's Options section, you can easily remove any unwanted options.
When dealing with considerably large archives, you can secure them with password protection and divide them into separate volumes. The program's only limitation is its inability to repair damaged archives; apart from that, it is an exceptional free compression tool.
Download: 7-Zip

4. PeaZip

File Compression Software, PeaZip
Image source: PeaZip
PeaZip is another open-source WinRar alternative, but with a few additional features. While its appearance may seem basic, this tool packs a surprising punch and offers a range of security options. Along with the usual compression and decompression functions, PeaZip allows for easy conversion of archives between different formats. Security-conscious users will appreciate its AES256-based encryption, two-factor authentication, and built-in password manager.
PeaZip provides compatibility with virtually all compressed file formats. Its own format, PEA, prioritizes security over compression, providing integrity checks and encrypted data that is authenticated. Moreover, this program is superior to 7-Zip in that it is capable of repairing damaged files.
It comes equipped with handy additional features as well, such as the ability to convert archive formats and conduct error checks on archives. While PeaZiplacks batch compression functionality like some of the other tools here, it provides the option to rotate and crop images.
Download: PeaZip 

5. Bandizip

File Compression Software,  Bandizip
Image source: Bandizip
This free file compression software allows users to seamlessly compress and decompress various file types, such as photos, videos, documents, and music. It offers extensive support for compression formats like ZIP, RAR, 7Z, and TAR, ensuring convenience and versatility.
Bandizip's interface is uncluttered and boasts an assortment of features, including compression, encryption, and the option to divide folders. The software not only detects malware in compressed files, but also warns you of potential threats when adding new documents, thus ensuring the security of your computer. Other prominent features include an integrated file viewer that allows users to see files without extracting them and powerful encryption technologies such as ZipCrypto, AES-256, and 7-Zip.
Download: Bandizip
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