Compressed files formats such as .zip and .rar are possible the most commonly used formats online. In addition to their space-saving capabilities, these formats also offer handy features such as encryption and password protection.
There are countless file compression tools to choose from, and Windows even offers support of its own in the form of compressed folders. But if you are someone who works at multiple computers you may well find that the necessary programs are not always available. But if you pop a copy of PeaZip Portable on your USB drive, you’ll always be able to compress and decompress files whenever you need to.
Like other portable apps, PeaZip portable does not need to be installed and it can be run directly from your USB drive. This is great if you find that you are often working with computers that you are not able or allowed to install software of your own – such as machines in libraries and coffee shops.
Download PeaZip Portable
Pay a visit to the main PeaZip web site at http://peazip.sourceforge.net/ and click the PeaZip Portable link to the bottom right of the page – you can then choose between downloading the 32- or 64-bit version of the software. To be on the safe side, unless you know that you are going to be using 64-bit versions of Windows, it makes sense to download the 32-bit version, although you could download both as at under 7Mb each, you’re going to have plenty of space on your USB drive for them.
You’ll notice that, slightly ironically, the program is supplied as a zip file itself so you’ll have to extract it to a new folder before copying it to your USB drive ready for use – of course, you’re not obliged to run PeaZip from a USB drive just because it is a portable app, and you may decide to run it from your hard drive instead.
Whether you’re using the program from a USB drive or your hard drive, just double click the peazip.exe file to launch it. Because you have not installed the program, there is no system integration by default. This means that you are not going to be able to right click on an archive file to decompress it as standard – although this is something will return to in a bit – and you will therefore have to familiarize yourself with the main program interface.
Working With Archives
At its most basic, you can use PeaZip Portable to browse and extract the contents of compressed files. The Explorer-style folder structure to the left of the window can be used to navigate through folder, and you’ll find that if you double click on a zip file – or another compressed file – you can view its contents without the need to extract first.
One of the most common actions you’re going to be using PeaZip for is extracting files, and this takes little more than clicking the Extract toolbar button. This will automatically extract the content of the archive to the same folder that the archive is stored in, but you can choose a different folder by clicking the Extract to all button.
Further options are available by clicking the arrow to the right of this button, and from the menu that appears you can choose to extract to a number of common locations, add password protection and more.
Of course, there will also be times when you want to create your own archives, and this can be achieved by selecting the files you want to use and then clicking the Add button. In the dialog that appears, you can choose where the archive should be stored and what it should be called, and the first drop down menu enables you to choose from one of the many compressed file formats that PeaZip supports.
A very similar dialog of options appears if you select an archive file and then click the Convert button. As you would expect, this feature can be used to convert existing archives from one format to another. There are numerous reasons you might want to do this, but one might arise if you have an archive in a slightly more exotic format – such as .tar – that you would like to share with someone who is only familiar with zip files.
Despite the fact that PeaZip Portable is a portable app, it is still possible to install it. This is a useful option if you want to use the same program on your main home computer as well as running it on other computers from your USB drive.
If you’d like to install the program, click the Options menu and select System integration before clicking Next. You can use the setting screen that appears to choose which of the app’s features should be added to the Windows context menu for easy access. After clicking Next, you can then choose which items should be added to Windows’ SendTo menu before indicating which file type PeaZip should be associated with – this means that any file of these types will be automatically opened with PeaZip when double clicked.
There are a huge number of compression tools available to choose from and PeaZip, particularly the extra-useful portable version, stands out from the crowds thanks to the fact that it is free of charge, has support for a wide range of file formats and is wonderfully easy to use despite its power.
This is one utility you should definitely find space for on your USB drive.