ZIP File Compression for Windows 7

March 9, 2011, By Christian Cawley

WinZIP is the popular compression tool available for Windows, used to shrink down files and folders so that they can be squeezed onto emails and low-capacity disks since the mid-1990s. Many people use the processing of “zipping” data on a daily basis, sometimes without even realising it, and the compression methods used in creating such archives of data have since been replicated across a variety of different software types.

Since the release of the Windows 98 Plus! Pack, the .ZIP file format has been supported by the operating system, meaning that in most cases you won’t require an additional utility to create or open WinZIP documents.

Zip File Compression for Windows 7

Compressing Files and Documents in Windows 7

Using the ZIP format you can compress data in Windows 7 for storage, either on an external device or on your computer. To do this, find the files in Windows Explorer that you want to compress, select them and right-click to display the context menu (you can select multiple files using CTRL+left click).

In the menu select Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder, and this will automatically create a ZIP format document. This might then be added as an attachment to an email (although some mail servers will block this sort of attachment) or saved to optical disk.

Opening ZIP Files

While you might use third party software for creating and reading compressed data formats such as ZIP, you can open ZIP files in Windows Explorer if the ZIP format is suitable.

For instance if you want to open a ZIP file that you created in the previous step, then you would need to find the document in Windows Explorer, right-click it and select Open with > Windows Explorer. This would then open the compressed folder from where you would be able to open the documents.

Alternatively you might just double click the ZIP file to use the default option. On a computer without any additional ZIP compression software then Windows Explorer would be the default choice, but other ZIP software is available.

Alternatives to Windows ZIP Compressed Folders

Rather than using the features included in Windows to ZIP your data you might use third party tools. Some of these are free while others can typically be used for an ongoing trial period with nag screens appearing after the trial. As many users don’t actually need additional ZIP functionality, it is useful to know that these solutions don’t cost the earth.

WinRAR (www.rarlabs.org) is probably the most popular choice for anyone using ZIP and other compression formats, offering support in Windows 7 for RAR, ZIP, CAB, ARJ, LZH, ACE, TAR, GZip, UUE, ISO, BZIP2, Z and 7-Zip formats.

Meanwhile 7-Zip (www.7-zip.org) is an open source solution that will compress in 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM formats and read 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 formats – quite a list!

Finally, you might choose WinZip (www.winzip.com); although the price for this utility is quite high it does offer some security features that the others do not.

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