IZArc claims to be “the best free ZIP utility” available. And indeed it is one of the most versatile ZIP utilities out there. A screenshot of the application’s window doesn’t reveal anything spectacular but it’s nice to see the GUI without the need of installing the program. So I’ve included one.

IZArc Window

There is hardly any compression format which is not supported by IZArc. Even the not-so-common JAR, RAR, and WAR archives can be unpacked. You can see the full list of supported archives in the screenshot below.

IZArc list of supported archives

However, a wide variety of supported archives doesn’t necessarily make the free ZIP utility outstanding. The usability and integration are also important factors to consider. IZArc shows no soft spot here either. It offers customizable Explorer integration.

IZArc's explorer extension

Besides the standard functions they also included a menu point “test”. It is handy if you want to make sure that the archive was created without errors.

You can also define a virus scanner which is used to scan the files being processed by the application. This is a nice increase in security, because the free zip utility also integrates with Outlook and we all know that E-Mails often contain malicious attachments. Another nice feature is that it can open and convert ISO, Bin, CDI, and NRG images. This is tremendously helpful if you quickly need a file which is inside a CD or DVD image. Sensitive data can be protected by encrypting the file. The free ZIP utility offers various algorithms including the de facto standard 256bit AES.

Those who are interested in using IZArc from the command line must install the “Command Line Add-on” from their Homepage. Last but not least there is also a portable version which runs without installation. You can find IZArc2go here. However, it has some drawbacks which lie in the nature of portability: there is no Explorer integration and the supported files don’t get associated with the program.

So would I call IZArc the best free zip utility? Well, I certainly don’t have anything to complain about the application and neither do I miss a feature. But there are other free zip utilities like 7zip that have roughly the same features and are available for free. Maybe there is no great need to find the “best zip-utility” and it’s sufficient to have one that works fine. And IZArc is certainly one of those.

  1. eraH 14 years ago

    I like IZArc’s interface better that 7zip. Plus, its free for commercial use, which a lot of other free archivers aren’t.

  2. Lukas Beeler 14 years ago

    I’ve bought two WinRAR licenses a while back, and it still serves me well. I’d prefer if they offered a per-user licensing model, because right now i can only use it on my work laptop and on my desktop. That isn’t all that nice.

    Then again, i often use Windows’s integrated Zip functionality on servers and client machines. Many of our customers still have (expired) trials of WinZIP installed, even though the could just use the ZIP-Functionality in XP and up.

  3. Andreas Erson 14 years ago

    Not sure if this applies in your case but the WinRAR license text states:

    “Home users may use their single computer usage license on all computers which are in property of the license owner.

    Business users require one license per computer RAR is installed on.”

    Good to know if you’re a home user.

  4. Fred 14 years ago

    I have been deploying izarc at work for years and it works great. I especially like the fact that it’s default file creation type is common .zip. 7zip and other compression tools force you to use their less common file type.

  5. Cyrus 14 years ago

    I also have been using izarc at work for year, however, I changed to 7-Zip. The major reason is that it didn’t support sub-folder with Simplified Chinese character.
    For example:

    Zip File
    |-Simplified Chinese Name1
    |—Simplified Chinese Name2

    It will failed to extract the folder. How come it said it support unicode

  6. smackmyb 14 years ago

    I´m using ZipGenius. It´s also free for commercial use and has a nice GUI.

  7. RicoV 11 years ago

    Comparing Izarc and 7zip GUI, I prefer 7zip: very simple and spartan. On the side of a more complete file management GUI, Peazip (that is based on 7zip) may be another choice.

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