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By: Danette Mckay
Archives files are very common these days. Everybody has either opened or created an archive file mostly likely a Zip formatted file. There are many software utilities that can open and create archives choosing the best one is not easy.

There are plenty of software options when choosing which software to install and use as your primary archiving utility. They differ in features and cost. Some of them are completely free to use while others are commercial utilities that cost money per user. WinZip is an example of a commercial archive software utility that you must pay for while Zipeg ZipGenius and 7Zip are examples of free archive software.

Different archive software differ in features too. Each software supports a different set of archive file types. Some of them can only open certain archive types while others can both open and create them. For example many utilities can open and extract files form RAR archive files while WinRAR is the only software utility which can create RAR files. Unfortunately WinRAR is not free software so if you need to create RAR archives you will need to pay and buy the WinRAR software.

Another way to slice the archive software utilities market is based on close or open source. Open sources means that the software source code is available for everybody to download make changes to and recompile. Close source means that the source is not available. So why is open source a good thing? First of all open source usually means free software which is a good thing by itself. But open source also means that if you are technically savvy and know how to make changes to source code you can customize the software to your needs in any way.

Open source also means that many engineers are actively looking at the source code and are fixing bugs and thus the result is stable software. The other advantage of open source code is that if at some point the original creator of the software decides to stop supporting it there will still be a community that will support the software through its open source code or if worst comes to worst you can decide to support it yourself. This is especially important for large deployments of the software. For example if you deploy WinZip on thousands of computers and then one day WinZip decides to abandon the product you have no other choice but to migrate to another utility. While if you deployed 7Zip open source archive software and if one day its creator decided to abandon the product the product is most likely going to stay alive through the open source community or if not you can use its source code to continue supporting it yourself.

One of the best and the only open source archive software utilities is 7Zip. The software gained popularity through a large community of developers that keep fixing and adding feature to the source code. 7Zip supports a large number of archive file formats and also a unique format called 7Z which is a very efficient archive format that is in many ways better than the popular Zip.
This article and more are from Danette Mckay who is an expert in his field. compression software provides more in depth information.
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