Four Compression And Archiving Solutions Compared

WinRAR 3.92 Beta 1 And WinZip 14

WinRAR 3.92 Beta 1

WinRAR by RAR Labs is available here. We’ve been using WinRAR for quite a while as a key benchmarking tool, since this is one of the most popular archiving solutions that supports multiple threads. In this article, we're using the latest version 3.92 beta 1, which works reliably.

WinRAR fully supports RAR and ZIP archives, and it’s capable of decompressing CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO, 7z, and Z archives. Like the other tools examined here, it also supports command line or GUI operation. WinRAR accommodates self-extracting archives and also supports archive encryption with up to 128-bit AES.

WinRAR comes with a wizard, which is a handy addition for consumers. WinRAR is the only program in this comparison that supports the creation of multi-volume archives. This may not sound important, but multi-volume is very useful if you need to send a larger amount of data to an email account with tight capacity limits. In such cases, WinRAR can split data into more appropriately-sized chunks. There are multiple add-ons for WinRAR, allowing you to customize and enhance the software for various operating systems.

Since version 3.91, WinRAR also supports the 7z format with LZMA2 (decompression). This format tends to yield great performance results. There are different versions for 32- and 64-bit operating systems, but we found little variance between them. So far, 15 languages are available for WinRAR 3.92 beta 1. And if you like a little more flare, WinRAR can be customized with themes.

WinZip 14

Last, but not least, is WinZip, available through This is the most popular archiving tool, but it shows two very different faces in our testing. On one hand, it integrates well with the operating system and has excellent usability. Version 14 is what you want if you’re using Windows Vista or 7. On the other hand, WinZip still has yet to distribute workloads across multiple processing cores, so it’s awfully slow when you use LZMA or the Best Method setting. Even on regular ZIP files, performance is only average. The Best Method setting selects the best compression algorithm for the file types you throw at the application.

WinZip can create three different types of archives: ZIP, ZIPX, and LHA. But the software can read many more types, such as RAR, 7z, BZ2, JAR, image (IMG, ISO), and cabinet files (CAB). If you work with large ZIP files a lot, you’ll be happy to hear that WinZip 14 can handle ZIPs above 4GB. The program also allows users to add 128- or 256-bit AES encryption to archives for security. An auto-wipe feature makes sure that temporarily extracted data from encrypted archives gets shredded right away. Also, WinZip 14 is accelerated by Intel’s AES-NI functionality, available on Clarkdale-based Core i5 CPUs (and the Gulftown-based Core i7-980X).

I should underline that we couldn’t try all of WinZip’s features, as the feature list is impressively long. Windows 7 support alone is pretty comprehensive. For example, the application supports gestures on touchscreens, Explorer preview, and so-called jump lists to facilitate access to ZIP features and files. The latest version also supports resizing of photos when you’re about to compress and email them through Explorer integration. Other tools offer similar integration, but not this extensive of a feature set. WinZip does multi-volume, the integrated FTP client allows you to back up archives via upload (Backup and Pro versions only), and both command line support and creation of self-extracting archives are included.