Which format and compression software to choose?


When you send files attached to emails, they can be long enough to send and receive callers if the files size is quite big. To expedite their shipment, you can compress your files. With various compression software algorithms and rules of cuts, it is possible to greatly reduce the weight of a file.

Creating a compressed archive, in addition to reducing the size of files, also allows you to group multiple files and folders into a single file that is then easier to transfer by email, or on a USB key for example.

There are different compression formats (ZIP, RAR, ACE, 7Z, GZ) which can be characterized by different criteria: effectiveness of compression (compression), compression time and possible features (password protection, division into multiple files, self-extracting archives, …). In short, each format is different and it is not necessarily easy to find the one best fits the use you want to do.

Here a small tour of different compressions formats available, their features, performance and software that allow you to use them.

To test different compression formats, we put in a record 8 different types of files (video files in AVI format, images in JPG, Word documents in DOC, software executable EXE format images JPG compressed format, document in PDF, Excel documents to XLS format, the Access databases to MDB format and finally to MP3 audio file) which we then compressed in different formats. We then measured the file size before (121 MB) and after compression, as well as the duration of the latter.


The ACE size

Long faced with ZIP and RAR formats and on a par with them, the ACE size today share a little into disuse despite compression rates average.


First, we can make two conclusions that we will then end up with other compression formats:

  1. File compression already using a compression method (MP3, JPEG, AVI) offers poor results (file size is reduced by 1 to 2%)
  2. The difference between a normal compression and optimal compression is not really obvious.

At the time required for compression of our 121 Mb file, it took a good minute, which means enough.


In the case of the ACE format, if the difference between the size of the compressed file with the normal method and the optimal method is almost zero, the compression length of the two methods are substantially identical, you can use the optimal compression all the time.

Like the RAR format, the editor of the license provided a commercial license to use its format, which greatly reduces the amount of software that can compress and decompress this format.

Unless a change of policy regarding the license and which strongly compromais its future, the ACE format is to forget.

The software that supports the ACE size:

  • WinACE (compression and decompression)
  • QuickZip (decompression)
  • PowerArchiver (decompression)
  • IZarc (decompression)
  • FilZip (decompression)
  • 7-Zip (decompression)
  • WinRAR (decompression)

RAR format

The RAR format is a proprietary format of competitor Zip format which offers excellent compression rate interesting features, like the ability to split an archive into several pieces, to split a sending by email or FTP for example. It is also possible to protect archives by a password.


Here again, we see that the difference in pressure between normal and optimal method is minimal.


At the time compression of our 121 Mb file, it took more than 1 minute 20, which is rather long.
The compression in RAR format is under license from the publisher, only WinRAR supports compression in this format.

The software that supports RAR format:

  • WinRAR (compression and decompression)
  • WinACE (compression and decompression)
  • QuickZip (decompression)
  • PowerArchiver (decompression)
  • IZarc (decompression)
  • FilZip (decompression)
  • 7-Zip (decompression)

The ZIP format

ZIP is the most common compression format. It has become a standard since it is compatible with all environments. It is unquestionably the most compression format used at present, which makes it an unrivaled advantage.

In fact, when you do reach a compressed file to your correspondent, it must have software to unzip the file and is compatible with the compression format. All Windows XP users can open a ZIP archive without additional software.


Again, the compression of MP3 or AVI file does not really give good results, because of the compression already present in these file types.


If the compression between an optimal and standard method gives much the same results, there is a huge difference between the period of application. So there we need 12 seconds to compress normally in our zip 121 MB (the final file is 101 MB then), it takes 120 for optimal compression (the final file is 100MB so).

Most compression software to compress in ZIP format, it is interesting to compare their performance with this format (Normal compression).


It is noted that all software compresses substantially the same way as ZIP with a small advance for 7-Zip. We note the good performance of the integrated compression in Windows XP that rises to the same level as its competitors.

From the viewpoint of the pressing time, all the software took 13 seconds to compress our 121 MB file, except WinZip which took 12 seconds.

The software that supports the ZIP format:

  • Windows XP (compression and decompression)
  • WinZip (compression and decompression)
  • WinRAR (compression and decompression)
  • WinACE (compression and decompression)
  • QuickZip (compression and decompression)
  • PowerArchiver (compression and decompression)
  • IZarc (compression and decompression)
  • FilZip (compression and decompression)
  • 7-Zip (compression and decompression)

The 7z format

The 7z format (seven-zip) is the latest compression formats. It is based on a free and open architecture that allows it to support any new compression method. The LZMA compression algorithm is used by default. It enables the creation of very compact archives.
The menu features the 7z format allows AES 256 bit encryption, making your inviolable archives.


As for other compression formats, the 7z format is particularly suitable for documents that contain text (database, word document, excel, …) and gives no result on already compressed files (JPG, MP3 music , …)
The difference between an advanced compression and normal compression is not really significant, unlike the time required for these operations.


More than 20 seconds between the duration of the two types of compression for a similar result: we therefore prefer the normal compression.

The software that supports the 7z format:

  • 7-Zip (compression and decompression)
  • QuickZip (compression and decompression)
  • PowerArchiver (compression and decompression)
  • IZarc (compression and decompression)


Our tests point to the apparent lack of effectiveness of compression formats on the types of files already providing data compression.The theory let consider this behavior and our tests confirmed. No need to acharner you to compress your images, music and video. On the other hand, creating a compressed archive you will consolidate in a single easily transportable and exchangeable files, multiple files.

Another element highlighted by our tests the difference is almost zero in terms of compression ratio between a compression in optimal mode and normal compression. Therefore prefer the normal compression which usually much faster.

From our different tests, 7z compression format proves to be the most effective for all types of files that you may need to handle.


The 7z format also offers features such as encryption and advanced protection of your compressed files. Here is probably the compression format that will prevail in the coming years, its free architecture to help democratization.

But it is still far from burying the Zip format has a bright future ahead of him. If it does not offer the best possible rate of compression, its universality makes an undeniable asset. You’re pretty sure your caller can open the archives in Zip format you send (directly in Windows XP, or with third-party software). Especially as the compression offered by Windows XP and its“Compressed Folders” is relatively effective.

In software that manage different compression format, we strongly recommend 7-Zip . First, it will enable you to use the 7z format to reduce the size of your records, and secondly, it will allow you to open any compressed file into another format(ace, rar, zip …) and eventually, if necessary, make cuts in Zip format. With 7-Zip, you are so ready for anything, without having to install software on your computer.



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Post Author: gyoby

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