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7-Zip is a free program that allows the management of multiple compressed files formats.
Compressed files are used to group a set of files and/or directories into a single file, and reduce the size that would occupy the group of files and/or directories. It doesn't matter if we know how a compressed file works, at some point we will need to create a compressed file or manipulate an existing file. That is why it is essential to have a tool that is able to compress and decompress multiple compressed files formats.
7-Zip emerges as an alternative to paid compressors programs, offering very similar characteristics and allowing the management of multiple compressed files formats. The program is able to decompress the vast majority of compression formats available in the market, some of the formats that it can decompress are: ZIP, RAR, ARJ, GZIP, CAB, ISO, LZH, and more. In addition, the program can create compressed files og the following formats: ZIP, TAR, GZIP, WIM, XZ, BZIP2 and XZ.
The program has its own compression format, whose name is 7z, and that obviously can be compressed and uncompressed with 7zip.
We can make use of the program's graphical interface, or directly use Windows explorer “Context Menu” that appears when we click with the right mouse button on any file.
In the context menu we can access the most common operations, such as: file extraction, extract file into a directory, compress file, compress it and send by e-mail, add to a already existing zip file, and more. This is a quick way to manipulate compressed files, and that allow us to avoid to access program's main screen to make basic actions.
When we access to main window, we will show all available operations in different menus. In addition to compress and decompress, we will be able to perform the following actions:
- Split and merge files: this option allows to split large files into smaller portions. By default we can split files into parts of 10MB, 650MB, 700MB, 4480MB or 1.44MB. Although we can define any other size. The resulting files have the extension .001, .002, etc. We can join these fragments together again with 7-Zip.
- File operations: we can perform basic operations on files as: rename, copy, move, and delete.
- Performance test: this option launches a test of compression and decompression, that test computer's performance, and displays the speed (KB/s) with which our PC is able to compress and decompress.
When we create a compressed file we have multiple options for creating compressed file: file format, compression level, compression type, number of threads, CPU, number of fragments, create auto-extract file (SFX), password encryption, and more.
In this way we will be able to create compressed files that are adapted to the situation required, as for example: create a compressed file, split it into several parts which we will upload to Internet for sharing with other users; or create a password protected compressed file, that contains private data, and send it to a friend by mail.