WinRAR alternatives: Comparing the best solutions

See the table for the 13 most important WinRAR alternatives and their specifications. It gives you a rough guide and information on compatibility of the programs, compression and extraction options and costs.

Software

Unzipping

(Extracting)

Zipping

(Compressing)

Free of charge

Compatibility

7-Zip

YES

YES

YES

Windows, Linux (ported as p7zip)

PeaZip

YES

YES

YES

Windows, Linux

The Unarchiver

YES

NO

YES

macOS, Linux

IZArc2Go

YES

YES

YES

Windows

Universal Extractor

YES

NO

YES

Windows

WinZip

YES

YES

NO

Windows, macOS

Bandizip

YES

YES

NO

Windows, macOS

FreeARC

YES

YES

NO

Windows, Linux

HaoZip

YES

YES

YES

Windows

ExtractNow

YES

NO

YES

Windows

Zipeg

YES

NO

YES

Windows, macOS

Ultimate Zip

YES

YES

YES

Windows

WinAce

YES

YES

NO

Windows

Please see the following sections for detailed information on the individual solutions.

7-Zip

7-Zip is freeware for zipping and unzipping files and has been around since 1999. In 2007, the program won SourceForge’s award as best open source project. The WinRAR alternative creates zip archives in the proprietary 7-Zip format, indicated by the file ending .7z. It is purely a container format with a modular and open structure. 7-Zip also allows users to zip and unzip files in the following file formats:

  • .zip
  • .bz2
  • .tar
  • .xz
  • .wim
  • .swm

7-Zip uses a powerful proprietary encryption algorithm to compress files, sacrificing compression speed for compression quality. The zipping program can also unzip archives with the endings .arj, .cpio, .lzh, .lha and .rar. It can also extract program archives like Microsoft Cabinet, Windows Installer files and application files.

If required, 7-Zip encryption can be used for individual files or entire directory structures. Depending on the level at which the encryption is applied, you may have to enter the decryption password to show the folder and file names of the archived elements.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Wide variety of formats for zipping and unzipping files

User interface is slightly old-fashioned

Proprietary, open and efficient file format available for archival

 

Password-protected encryption

 

Many languages integrated

 

PeaZip

PeaZip is also a free WinRAR alternative for zipping and unzipping files. It lets you edit, save and restore archive layouts, as well as apply various filters to the contents of the archives. You can also split or join archives and delete files securely. The program is available for various Windows 32 and 64 bit versions (XP or better) and for Linux. PeaZip Portable is a version that does not have to be installed on a computer – it can simply be launched from external storage media like USB flash drives.

You can use PeaZip to zip and unzip the following archives:

  • .7z
  • .arc
  • .bz2
  • .gz
  • .paq
  • .pea
  • .quad
  • .split
  • .tar
  • .upx
  • .zip

The compression program can also unzip (only) archives in these formats: .ace, .arj, .bz, .cab, .chm, .cpio, ISO, Java, .lzh, .lha, .rar, .wim, .xpi, .taz.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Supports a total of 180 formats

Does not support .rar files

Can also unzip rare formats

 

High speed and rapid compression rate

 

Two-factor authentication available

 

Customizable design

 

The Unarchiver

This WinRAR alternative is available exclusively for macOS and Linux operating systems. The program is easy to operate and has an intuitive structure. You can use it to unzip many different file formats, but not to create any archives: It does not have its own compression format, so you have to use other programs to zip files. As it only unzips, The Unarchiver naturally does not offer any encryption options. You can extract the following files: .zip, .zipx, .rar, .7z, .tar, .gzip, .bz2, .lzma, .cab, .exe, .ffs, .xar, .rpm, .deb, .ar, .alzip, .warc, .nds.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Supports all common archive formats

Only available for macOS and Linux

Easy to understand and operate

Cannot compress files

Rapid installation

 

IZArc2Go

IZArc2Go is a portable program for zipping and unzipping files. The freeware can be launched directly from data media like USB flash drives and external drives and is therefore perfect for business travelers who are always on the road. This WinRAR alternative can also protect files with Rijndael AES 256-bit encryption. The tool also supports functions like splitting archives and comment functions. The software also has an integrated decryption module for ZIP passwords. IZArc2Go only runs on Windows, and it zips and unzips the following formats: .7z, .arc, .arj, B64, .bh, .bin, .bz2, .c2d, .cab, .cdi, .cpio, .deb, .enc, .gca, .gz, .gza. .img, ISO, .jar, .tha, .lib, .lzh, .mdf, .mbf, .mim, .nrg, .pak, .pdi, .pk3, .rar, .rpm, .tar, .taz, .tbz, .tgz, .tz, .uue, .war, .xpi, .xxe, .yz1, .zip, .zoo.

Advantages

Disadvantages

No installation necessary

Only works on Windows

Zips and unzips many formats

 

Fast compression and extraction

 

Universal Extractor

Universal Extractor is freeware and, like the previous alternatives, also unzips various file types. However, unlike many other programs, the WinRAR alternative also unzips executable files. The software only runs in Windows and offers a simple user interface. However, Universal Extractor has not been updated for a few years, which is why it is not a like-for-like replacement for WinRAR or 7-Zip. While its developers say it can unzip all conventional archives, you have to choose other programs – in particular programs with regular updates – for particularly rare archives.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Simple user interface

No recent (official) updates available

 

Only available for Windows

 

Cannot compress files

WinZip

WinZip is one of the best-known tools for compressing and extracting files. This WinRAR alternative is available in standard and professional editions and runs on Windows and macOS operating systems. The Standard version of the program can now be downloaded for $8.50, the Professional version costs approx. $35 to download or about $50 on a CD.

WinZip offers AES 128 and 256-bit encryption and a configurable Microsoft Shell integration. It also supports arc archives and can write directly to DVD or CD if required. WinZip unzips all standard formats and zips.zip, .zipx and .lha files – depending on the software version. The software producer itself offers a detailed comparison between the standard and pro versions.

Advantages

Disadvantages

.zipx format offers high compression rates

Data backups and automation available only in the pro version

Standard version offers comprehensive options at a low price

Can read many formats, but only create .zip, .zipx and .lha files

Compresses and extracts files reliably and quickly

 

Bandizip

Bandizip is another good alternative to WinRAR, but not available free for Mac users (from approx. $20). The tool works under Windows and macOS, with the Windows version offering the same functions as the paid macOS version. Bandizip copies unzipped files directly to the target folder and supports unzipping of the following formats: .7z, .ace, .aes, .alz, .arj, .bh, .bin, .bz, .bz2, .cab, Compound(MSI), .egg, .gz, .img, ISO, .isz, .lha, .lz, .lzh, .lzma, .pma, .rar, .rar5, .sfx (.exe), .tar, .tbz, .tbz2, .tgz, .tlz, .txz, .udf, .wim, xpi, .xz, .zip, .zipx, .zpaq.

Bandizip encrypts files with the AES 256-bit standard, writing compressed archives in the following formats:

  • .zip
  • .7z(lzma2)
  • .zipx(xz)
  • .exe
  • .tar
  • .tgz
  • .lzh(lh7)
  • .ISO
  • .gz, .xz

Advantages

Disadvantages

Windows version free and unlimited

Mac version paid

Supports many formats

 

Integrates in the Explorer shell menu

 

File integrity checks

 

FreeARC

FreeArc is a free WinRAR alternative with its own format that offers a high file compression rate. The tool runs under Windows and Linux, produces self-extracting archives and works very quickly. Given its wide range of options and the fact that FreeArc can only zip and unzip its own eponymous .arc format, the program is aimed more at advanced users. Encryption is supported.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Free tool

Not suitable for beginners

Wide range of settings

Only supports the proprietary .arc format

Rapid and maximum compression

Not available for macOS

HaoZip

HaoZip is a free alternative to WinRAR that closely resembles the established original archival software. The tool can process a wide range of formats, has a search function and can produce virtual image files (version 3.0 and above). It can also encrypt data. The developer says that HaoZip unzips files 40 percent faster than other programs. The software is only available for Windows systems and is free of charge. HaoZip compresses and extracts the following formats: .zip, .rar, .7z, .tar, ISO, .cab, .dmg, .hfs, .arj, .gz, .gzip, .tgz, .tpz, .xar, .rpm, .bz2, .tbz2, .tbz, .deb, .cpio, .taz, .jar, .zpi, .lzma, .lzma86, .lzh, .lha, 001, .wim, .swm, .uue, .ace, .isz, .split, .xz.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Free of charge

Only available for Windows

Supports 50 file formats

 

Rapid file compression

 

ExtractNow

ExtractNow is a free unzipper that allows users to unzip multiple archives simultaneously. The tool’s user interface is clear and simple and lets you process any number of files via drag-and-drop. ExtractNow only unzips files and therefore cannot group files in archives. The software is only available for Windows. ExtractNow supports the following formats, among others: .zip, .rar, .7z, ISO, .tar, .flv, .pe, .ace, .sit.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Free of charge

No compression features

Clear user interface

Only available for Windows

Simultaneous extraction of multiple archives

 

Zipeg

Zipeg unpacks ZIP files and some similar compression formats. The tool is free for macOS and Windows and has a drag-and-drop function. You can also add files using a classic button interface. Zipeg can only unzip files (not zip them) and is very easy to use. The streamlined alternative to WinRAR supports the following functions: .zip, .rar, .arj, .lha/.lzh, .7z, .tar, .gz, .tgz, .bz2, .cpio, .rpm, ISO, .chm, .cab, .ear, .war, .cbr, .cbz.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Available free of charge

No compression function

Extracts the standard formats

Not all formats available

UltimateZip

UltimateZip is a free alternative to WinRAR that can both zip and unzip files. The tool integrates directly in Windows, encrypts files and works with a wide range of antivirus programs. UltimateZip compresses and sends files in e-mails in just one step, supporting the following formats: .zip, .rar, .ace, .bh, .cab, .jar, .lha, .gzip, .tar, .bz2, .arc, .arj, .xxe, .uue.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Free tool

Does not support all formats

Can zip and unzip

Only available for Windows

Integrates directly into Explorer

 

WinAce

WinAce is another WinRAR alternative. This tool zips and unzips files in all standard formats. WinAce is available for download as a free test version (Windows only) and a paid full version for €30. This WinRAR alternative can also encrypt packed files with password protection and features a restore function. WinAce zips and unzips the following formats:

  • ace
  • zip
  • lha
  • ms-cab
  • jar

The tool can only extract archives in the following formats .rar, .arc, .arj, .gzip, .tar and .zoo.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Integrity check

No free version available

Detailed information on package types at a glance

Last updated in 2008

 

Only available for Windows


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