Today the need for compression and decompression applications is not nearly as widespread as it once was at the consumer level. This is because we have increased our ability to store information – moving from floppy disks to DVD’s and flash drives – and moving from dial-up internet to high speed. In the past we tried to squish files down to the smallest possible size to make them fit on smaller media and transfer faster. Now, we don’t worry about that nearly as much.
Still, there are a large number of files that come in compressed formats. It is still a convenient way to send a whole bunch of files at once or to protect files with an encryption key. There are several commercial products available for this purpose including the venerable WinZip. That said, when possible I seek to find freeware or open source alternatives to commercial software packages – a habit that comes from growing up without (much) cash.
My personal favorite is 7-Zip. Its free and open source. My only complaint is that the user interface is not nearly intuitive or friendly enough. Still, if you are willing to take the time to learn the application – it is extremely powerful and can handle a wide variety of compression formats – way beyond just your normal zip/unzip.