Windows 8.1 has built-in compression support, but it offers little functionality beyond the basic unzipping and compressing of files. If you're on an older operating system, or you're looking for more functionality, there are a number of third-party options out there. One of the most well-known file compression tools is WinRAR, by RARLab, which can self-extract files, split archives into multiple volumes and even repair damaged files.
WinRAR is a popular choice, but it's far from the only one out there. We've served up five alternatives, and it's worth nothing that while the following Windows programs are free, they will attempt to install third-party add-ons that aren't necessary for them to function properly. As such, we recommend that you opt out of installing them when asked.
7-Zip is an open-source compression program that that sports a minimal user interface and makes use of space-saving file compression algorithms. It's easy to use and supports a wide range of archive formats - including ZIP, GZ and TAR. Where it really shines, however, it when it's used to compress or unzip files in its own official format, .7z.
TrueCrypt isn't a direct replacement for WinRAR as it's not a straightforward zip and compression tool. However, if you're looking for an alternative program to encrypt files with a high level of security (in a similar manner to making an encrypted .zip file), TrueCrypt is one of the best.
WinZIP is a true classic and the program that most people associate with when talking about file compression. It's been around since the early days of Windows and has recently been refreshed with a slicker interface and support for social media websites - including Facebook and Twitter.
4. Chrome (Zip Extractor add-on)
ZIP Extractor is a useful Chrome browser extension that lets you decompress .zip files to Google Drive, Google's cloud storage service, directly within the Chrome browser. This is especially useful if you have a large amount of ZIP files on your desktop that need unzipping and uploading to the Google Drive Cloud, saving you from clicking on each one to extract and upload the contents manually, which can become a slow and laborious process.
5. Daemon Tools Lite
As with TrueCrypt, Daemon Tools Lite isn't a direct replacement for WinRAR but instead provides an alterantive way of archiving files that you may have stored in encrypted zip files. Daemon Tools Lite lets you add virtual drives to your machine, meaning that instead of archiving files on physical discs - such as CDs or DVD ROMs - you can compress them and keep them stored in an ISO image format on your hard drive until you want to retrieve them.