How to choose a data compression format

If you work with your computer and you are used to manage big, big, chunks of data, the most difficult choice to make when thinking about how to share them or to send them, is picking the right data compression format. It sounds maybe too much if you are listening with inexperienced ears, but which compression format you use can have a powerful impact on the performance of your work.

So it is time to compress some files, what format should you use? There are many criteria you could take into account and compression ratio is one of them, but not the only one as many tend to believe. The ease with which you can use a specific format rather than another one is very important too. Downloading and learning to use third-party software can be exhausting and tiring and overall irritating, so in this guide we will try to analyze the most common data compression formats: ZIP, RAR and 7Z format. Hopefully, after reading this, you will know which one to pick considered that each one of us has different needs in terms of compressing data.

The Zip archiving format is most likely the most common and mainstream one that you can find on a Microsoft Windows system. It has many good functions and in recent years its developers have introduced several interesting improvements to the format, such as big recovery records that are able to rebuild accidentally missing data, a strong and safe encryption and a better compression ratio. However, these features are not what kept Zip this popular. Two other factor did that.

  • Zip compression is undoubtedly quite fast and if you a massive amount of data to compress, you will probably end up choosing Zip over other options because it is faster and the fact does not provide the best amount of compression will probably not affect you at all.
  • Also, Zip support is almost epidemic. No matter the operating system of your computer, whether it is Linux or Windows systems, Zip is the ideal choice when you have to send via email big data. You never know what the other person has as operating system, but Zip will solve this issue.

RAR is another archive format that is quite common out there. It was introduced by WinRar for the Windows platforms and it can be used on Linux too, even if only as an extractor. It is probably the strongest alternative to the Zip format being that has a very good encryption as well, an even better compression ratio and error recovery capabilities. Because of these reasons, RAR is very popular among those who need a way to distribute files all over the web.

And lastly, but not least, there is 7z. It is modern and open source, sporting the highest compression ratio out there and when put work against its fellow archive formats Zip and Rar, it proves to be better in many cases. Because it has such a nice compression ratio, it is not the best option if you need a quick job, unless the computer you are using has an ultramodern multi-core CPU.

In a nutshell
If you are not an expert of this field, this entire article might have sound slightly difficult. However, going through our arguments, one thing is clear: it depends on what needs you have, what do you hope to achieve with the compression of your file and how much time you have that can be dedicated to waiting for your big files to be compressed. Hopefully this guide helped you go navigate better in this jungle of formats.

Our Archive Converter understands a lot of compression formats, so if you can’t open an archive/compressed file on your computer because of not having the appropriate software then you can always use it to convert your files to a most popular zip format.

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