After a very long, and near unending beta cycle that saw the major version identifier jump by an increment of five, we now have 7Zip 9.20.

The revision is available in both 32bit and 64bit flavors, and I have used both extensively, with no problems at any time. The version numbers, and problems occurring in the betas from version 4.65 to 9.20 were of the type that only happens in extreme circumstances, but it is nice to know that the author pays that kind of attention to detail.

(I can remember log ago, when PKZip would not unzip to a directory with any of a few odd characters in the name – they were not forbidden characters – unfortunately for me, my directory structures always used those characters. Only after repeated nudgings did the problem get fixed.)

It is truly amazing that the author does so much for a totally free product.

One of the reasons I became very familiar with the 7Zip archiver is because it is one of the few that has a 64bit version, and is also free. Others either are not free, or charge extra for the 64bit version. I have 32bit WinRAR commercial version, but it is prior to when the author decided to do 64bit revisions. Since I rarely do any encoding in RAR format, 7Zip works great, and is only a right-click of the mouse away for all my regular chores.

For those not quite familiar with 7Zip, it does much more than encode and decode the 7z and zip formats. Some of the other things 7Zip does are:


  • High compression ratio in new 7z format with LZMA compression
  • Supported formats:
    • Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM
    • Unpacking only: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z.
  • For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zip provides a compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than the ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip
  • Strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats
  • Self-extracting capability for 7z format
  • Integration with Windows Shell
  • Powerful File Manager
  • Powerful command line version
  • Plugin for FAR Manager
  • Localizations for 79 languages

As I said, the integration with the Windows Shell is very important to me. I rarely start any utility program these days by another means than a right scroll and click.

One more thing about 7Zip is that it will recognize, and extract many compound Microsoft archives. I know of no other non-Microsoft authored program that will do this, and this saves a lot of time when the Microsoft package is in the form of a self-extractor, and you don’t want to open the entire package, or go through a process in its entirety for one particular file. (This is very important because I find this happening to me all the time.)

I must admit that for all the time I have spent on the internet, on computers in general, and moving files about, I am certain I have not encountered a few of the archive types that 7Zip handles.  Of the formats I know it does not, such as ARC or PKARC, there arte thankfully few of them still around, most having been converted to the newer, more compressed formats.

Also, for those using 64bit versions of Windows, and possibly the Microsoft XP Mode, the 7Zip manager can look inside VHD files, and that can be very, very handy.

If you have need of a better archiving solution than what is built into Windows – that includes everyone but Mr. Ballmer doesn’t it? – try 7Zip. You won’t be disappointed, and should you decide you want something else, it can be removed, or left as a backup solution.