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.
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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.
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.
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.