PeaZip

PeaZip is one of the best free file compression tools around. It's very small (though not quite as tiny as 7-Zip) and supports a huge range of file formats.

Unlike most free file archiving software, PeaZip is focused on security, with a whole toolkit to keep your important data safe. Its proprietary PEA format is designed with your safety in mind, with encryption and optional identity check.

PeaZip is fully functional – not just a taster of a premium paid-for product – and completely free to use on as many devices as you like.

User experience

Compressed file archives are great for sharing files – whether it's by email, FTP, P2P or cloud storage – enabling you to package several documents together and minimize their overall size. Another very useful factor is security, and this is where PeaZip outshines its rivals.

PeaZip is capable of reading and creating encrypted file archives using two-factor authentication, which requires both a password and a randomly generated key file to unlock. This makes the archives much harder to crack using brute force or dictionary-based attacks.

PeaZip includes its own built-in password manager, which keeps your credentials encrypted until a master password is entered, and a secure file shredder to permanently erase any data you no longer need.

If all that isn't enough to tempt you, PeaZip also offers a comprehensive set of non-security features. These include a file organizer with built-in image editor, options for splitting and joining archives, the ability to find duplicate files, and a tool for optimizing image compression.

All of these features are easy to find and access with a couple of clicks (there's no need to trawl through nested menus), and PeaZip integrates with Windows' own context menu so you can create and open archives from your desktop or Windows Explorer.

If you share file archives regularly, PeaZip is essential.

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