If you're not satisfied with the basic Zip archiving built into Windows, you'll want to give Hamster Free Zip Archiver a try. It offers far more capabilities than what you get with Windows, and unlike many other similar pieces of archiving software, does it for free.
Hamster Free Zip Archiver handles the most popular compression formats, including Zip and 7z, and does so with exceptional ease. Creating an archive is as simple as dragging and dropping files and pressing a button. Opening an archive is even simpler: Just navigate to the archive and click the Open button. It creates archives in only the Zip and 7z formats, but handles unarchiving in the RAR format.
Even though Hamster Free Zip Archiver is simple to use, it has some nice customizability. It allows you to decide whether faster speed or smaller archive size (or a compromise between them) is your goal. You can choose among three compression levels, Minimum, Optimal, and Maximum. Minimum compresses the least, but the program creates the archive the fastest; Maximum compresses the most and creates an archive the slowest. Optimal, as its name implies, is just right for those who want to balance speed of creation with small size. Unless you need to compress extremely large files, you'll likely find that the optimal setting works fine; in my tests, it compressed a 34.6 MB file in only 15 seconds.
You can also split large archives into pieces, and also password-protect archives as well. This compression software doesn't have the have advanced features, such as e-mail integration, that you'll find in a paid product like WinZip.
Note that when you install Hamster Free Zip Archiver, it will make Bing your default search engine, make Bing your homepage, and install the Bing search toolbar in your browser, unless you choose to customize your installation and uncheck the options next to those.
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