There are numerous situations where you have to send files to colleagues, clients or even yourself. Most people use email to do this, or they upload files to a cloud storage provider like Dropbox. The only problem with this is both systems often place limits on how big the files you upload/attach are. One way to get around this is to compress your files.
File compression, or zipping, is the process of using a program that takes files or a folder on your computer and combines them into one file, then compresses this into a smaller package. It does this by taking redundant information that is prolific in data, and paring it down to one list that all files in the compression can use. For a brilliant, in-depth explanation on how zipping works, you can checkout this article on HowStuffWorks. As with most computer related programs, choice isn’t limited to a couple of programs, rather there are hundreds. Here are five of the best:
WinZip is the most popular compression/decompression program amongst PC users. The latest version of WinZip, WinZip 16.5, allows users to zip and send files via email – using YouSendIt, a program that uploads files to a server and sends a link over email that recipients click on to download the file. The program is easy to use, just open it up, select the files to zip and the program will help you to compress your files. Decompression is as easy as double clicking on the zipped file (.zip). WinZip also allows you to encrypt compressed files. The program has a free trial, but will cost around USD$30.00. Available for Mac and Windows.
The second most popular compression program for Windows is WinRar. RAR files are another popular form of compression container used by Windows users for archiving purposes. WinRar offers a higher compression ratio than WinZip which means files will be smaller, while also offering tools that can help repair damaged RAR archives along with strong file encryption. Like WinZip, the tool has a free trial, but then costs around USD$29.00 per user, with the price per user reducing the more users there are. WinRar is available for Windows.
Looking for a free compression program that has an easy to navigate interface and supports a large number of compression formats? PeaZip is a good choice that has all these features. PeaZip also offers some of the strongest encryption features compared to other compression programs, including two-factor authentication. PeaZip is available for Windows and Unix.
Stuffit is the go-to file compression and decompression program for Mac users who want more robust features than those offered by the built-in OS X compression program. This program is similar to other zip programs, it opens, compresses, encrypts and can share your files. It does all this through an incredibly user friendly interface, and costs from USD$29.99. Stuffit is available for Mac and Windows.
If your compression needs go beyond simply compressing the odd file, and your budget doesn’t allow for extra licenses, 7-Zip is the program for you. It’s open-source, which means there is a solid base of experts working on constantly improving the program. As an added benefit, it’s free, while being fairly easy to use. You just have to get over the somewhat dated interface. Then again, retro is in style now isn’t it? 7-Zip is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, Ubuntu, Command Line Interfaces and Windows Phone.
These five programs should cover all your compression needs, while allowing you to send more files, or increase available storage space. If you have any questions about compression programs, please contact us.