Many files you'll encounter for downloading on the Net are in compressed form. Typically, these files will have a "ZIP" extension. Many software sites compress files, so that you may download them quicker. The only drawback to compressed files is that you must "unzip," (or decompress) them before you use them. Below, we feature the Web's best free tools for decompressing files. These tools will handle any type of compressed file you'll encounter. Besides the popular ZIP format, there are many other compression formats, such as Stuffit (.sit) files (for Mac users) and uuencoded (.uue), BinHex (.hqx), ARC (.arc), Arj (.arj), and gzip (.gz) formats, etc. The most popular decompression tool on the Web is WinZip. It's an excellent, easy-to-use program. The only problem is that it's shareware, not freeware. After you download it, every time you use it, you'll get an annoying "nag" screen. (And for good reason: after all, if you use it, you're expected to register and pay for this commercial product). However, the programs we list below don't have that problem: they're free, and in many cases are nearly as good, or as good, as WinZip.
This handy free online service lets you uncompress .zip and .rar files without having archiver programs like WinZip or WinRAR installed on your computer. To use this service, simply upload a file and then download the uncompressed file. Here, you can uncompress files up to 200 megs in size. Uploaded files are deleted after 24 hours "and can only be viewed by you."
A powerful, easy-to-use freeware zip and unzip utility, EasyZip offers a good interface and all the bells and whistles of the most popular commercial archive programs. This program features integration with Windows (including extracting archives and zipping files directly from Windows Explorer); checking for viruses in archive; drag and drop; and more. (For Windows).
This is an easy-to-use .zip file utility that lets you open, create and modify .zip files quickly. CAM UnZip offers many handy extra features, including password-protected .zip file support. It also lets you view files in an archive before you extract them. (For Windows). Free for personal use, but donations are accepted.
(Note: the download of this free program, StuffIt Expander, comes bundled with StuffIt Standard, which is not free). The classic decompression tool for the Mac is available for Windows users. An easy-to-use free utility, StuffIt Expander can handle any type of compressed file you throw at it, including .zip files. It'll also handle uuencoded (.uue), BinHex (.hqx), and MacBinary (.bin), ARC (.arc), Arj (.arj), and gzip (.gz) formats. (For Windows and Mac).