Beginner Builder series 75% done! will probably never be finished. :(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

7-zip: Zip it up, 7z style!

7-zip is a compression tool that is rather unique. 7-zip actually introduces its own compression format, 7z. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the reasons I love 7-zip:

-7z format: Ok, now I can talk about this. 7z is actually a brand spanking new format and is highly compressible. I find that 7z files can be 25% to 50% smaller than the exact same files in a zip archive. However, because this format is not known by everyone (but it is becoming more and more common), you can't exactly use 7z files if you're going to put it up for other people to download. Nevertheless, if you are using it for your own personal use, then 7z is the way to go.

-Better compression all around: Yes, 7-zip has better compression all around for numerous formats. According to the developer site, "For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zip provides a compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than the ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip."

-Self extracting 7z (SFX): This is pretty cool. What if you want to send a file to someone that is not good with compression software? Easier: create a self-extracting archive. Even better, it's 7z format, so it is a highly compression self-extracting archive! And it's easy to do; all you do is click "SFX" in the "Create Archive" dialouge.

-Windows shell: Adds an entire category to your context menu. That way you don't have to do "Open with" and hunt for 7-zip. You can open an archive, extract the files to any folder, quickly extract the files to the folder you're in, or add to archive (either an existing, or new).

-File manager: I don't use nearly as often as I should, but it's still a very nice file manager. You can add, extract, test, copy, move, delete, and more right inside the manager. You can split and merge, calculate the checksum, add a comment, and much more from the right click. There are 4 different views, just like in explorer, and there's even 10 favorites that you can add.

-Command line: Everything I mentioned above you can do command line-style. I suggest copying 7z.exe to the system32 folder, then you can just type "7z" in the command prompt, and vwa la. To figure out all of the commands for command line, just run the 7z.exe from the command prompt. Here's the output, in case you want to know:
Usage: 7z [...] [...]

a: Add files to archive
d: Delete files from archive
e: Extract files from archive (without using directory names)
l: List contents of archive
t: Test integrity of archive
u: Update files to archive
x: eXtract files with full paths

-ai[r[-|0]]{@listfile|!wildcard}: Include archives
-ax[r[-|0]]{@listfile|!wildcard}: eXclude archives
-bd: Disable percentage indicator
-i[r[-|0]]{@listfile|!wildcard}: Include filenames
-m{Parameters}: set compression Method
-o{Directory}: set Output directory
-p{Password}: set Password
-r[-|0]: Recurse subdirectories
-scs{UTF-8 | WIN | DOS}: set charset for list files
-sfx[{name}]: Create SFX archive
-si[{name}]: read data from stdin
-slt: show technical information for l (List) command
-so: write data to stdout
-t{Type}: Set type of archive
-v{Size}[b|k|m|g]: Create volumes
-u[-][p#][q#][r#][x#][y#][z#][!newArchiveName]: Update options
-w[{path}]: assign Work directory. Empty path means a temporary directory
-x[r[-|0]]]{@listfile|!wildcard}: eXclude filenames
-y: assume Yes on all queries
It's a little complicated, but if you are in to command line, use it well.

-Size: The entire install is under 3mb. What's not to like about that?

-Cross Platform: For what it's worth, 7-zip is also available on Linux.

-Portable: How could an app this great not be portable? The good people at PortableApps certainly thought so.

Visit 7-zip website for Download


  1. I ended up choosing 7-zip as well, but another option worth checking out is IZArc. It is also free and the interface is a little more modern, but apparently it can be a bit slower on occasion.

  2. I've heard of IZArc as well. The thing about compression is that you really only need one (for the most part), and I'm trying to keep my personal PC tidy when it comes to installations, so I really haven't been able to try anything besides 7-zip. I guess I'm just kinda lazy like that. But I have IZArc on the list, and I'll make it the next compression freeware that I'll look at. Thanks for the comment!


  3. 7-Zip looks like a good utility. The one thing I am not seeing is how do you create an archive that includes the full paths to each file so you can later restore them to the correct directory. If some one can show me this it would meat my needs.

  4. Anonymous,

    I don't know if you'll read this since it's been a few months, but here's my best response.

    I am not sure that that feature is in 7-zip, but I am fairly certain that the functionality you speak of is in 100k Zipper (which I also posted about). Of course, that only supports ZIP compression, but it is at least something.

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