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Fast compression: faster than fastest ZIP

Fast compression: faster than fastest ZIP comparative
Fast compression benchmark: faster than fastest ZIP




Analyze modern compression algorithms capable to provide performances equal or better than fastest commonly available implementation of classic Deflate algorithms, employed in obiquitous ZIP format.
Comparison is conducted, in terms of compression / extraction speed and compression ratio, against performances of Deflate ZIP in the range from default to fastest compression settings.

Software settings

Benchmarks are conducted on Windows 10 2009 64 bit using 64 bit versions of:
  • PeaZip 7.4.1
  • WinRar 5.8
All applications are tested using default, out-of-the-box compression settings for the selected archive format.
No cryptography option is set, since encryption impact on performances is out of the scope of this benchmark.

Hardware settings

Notebook with Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 4 physical cores with hyper-threading (8 logical cores), 8 GB RAM
System disk 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD, NTFS filesystem

Compression formats compared in this benchmark

  • 7Z file format Open Source archive format by 7-Zip, providing strong and efficient compression and good performances on multicore machines, tested with:
    • LZMA2 algorithm (strong compressor), set at fastest compression level
    • Brotli algorithm (fast compressor), set at default compression level
    • Zstandard algorithm (fast compressor), set at default compression level
  • RAR file format (RarLabs RAR5 revision) proprietary archive format providing better compression that ZIP using PPMd algorithm, tested at fastest compression level
  • ZIP file format widely used archive format, tested at default and fastest compression levels (with Deflate algorithm) from WinRar, which qualified as the fastest zip compressor in previous batch of PeaZip's compression benchmarks

Input data

Same set of data of previous "Brotli vs Zstandard" benchmark is used: input contains 43 files in 4 directories for total 1.22 GB (1,318,000,857 bytes), composed by well known reference files representative of different data structures, widely used for compression benchmarks:

Compression / decompression comparison with fastest ZIP

Faster than zip compression benchmark methods

Benchmark input data is saved to system disk (PCIe SSD) and compressed to system disk, same partition, separate directory; the resulting archives are then extracted to separate directory on same (system) disk/partition.

Each compression and extraction test is repeated 10 times to get an average value; size is expressed in MB, time in seconds.
For each tested format, alhgorithm, and compression level, are used default compression settings as pre-set out of the box by the file archiver applications being tested (PeaZip, and WinRar).

WinRar is chosen as reference for the fastest commonly available ZIP Deflate implementation, due results of previous benchark tests.
Performance of ZIP Deflate is analized at normal and fastest compression levels, and compared with non-Deflate algorithms at compression levels which provides comparable compression ratio and speed results.

Faster than zip compression benchmark results table, the lower the better for all columns

Utility, format, algorithm, level
Compression (sec)
Archive size
Compression ratio
WinRar, ZIP normal
WinRar, ZIP fastest 15.8
WinRar, RAR PPMd fastest 12.1
PeaZip, 7Z LZMA2 fastest
PeaZip, 7Z Zstandard normal 6.5
PeaZip, 7Z Brotli normal 6.1

Faster than zip compression ratio results

All alternative formats attained better compression ratio results than ZIP Deflate at fastest compression levels.
All formats (except for 7Z Brotli) attained better compression ratio than ZIP Delfate at normal compression level, with LZMA2 being the best compressor followed by RAR PPMd and Zstandard..

better compression ratio than WinRar Deflate ZIP

Faster than zip compression speed results

All formats compressed the input set significantly faster than ZIP Deflate normal, and even faster than ZIP Deflate at fastest compression level.
7Z LZMA and RAR PPMd compression times are roughly comparable with ZIP Deflate at fastest compression level (with RAR being faster), but both alternatives provides vastly improved compression ratio.
7Z Zstandard and 7Z Brotli at normal compression level are approximatively 3x times faster than ZIP Deflate at normal compression level, 2.5x times faster than ZIP Deflate fastest level.

faster compression than fastest zip implementation

Faster than zip extraction speed results

All formats decompressed the benchmark data significantly faster than ZIP Deflate, either compressed at normal or fastest level.
For extraction, 7Z LZMA2 at fastest level is nearly 2x faster than ZIP Deflate, and slightly faster than RAR PPMd, reversing the performance advantage RAR PPMd have in compression speed test.
7Z Zstandard extraction speed at all levels overlaps with 7Z LZMA2, while 7Z Brotli provides significantly faster extraction, the fastest of the test, nearly 4x faster than ZIP Deflate range of speed.

faster extraction than fastest zip implementation

Honorable mention: ARC format

At minimum (1 on 9) compression level PeaZip with ARC format completed compression test in 5.5 sec and extraction test in 2,7 sec, but created a 447 MB archive which does not fall in the desired range, being larget than the 429 MB output created by Deflate at minimum compression level.
At 2 on 9 compression level ARC completed the compression test in 15.3 sec creating a 310 MB archive, which is an excellent compression ratio, outperforming all other alternatives, but extraction needed 28.4 sec, almost 4 times slower than Deflate.
Due those drawbacks the ARC format was excluded from the test, but it remains an extremely interesting archive format.

Conclusions: faster than Deflate

While creating Deflate-based ZIP archives remains an excellent choice due the ubiquitous support from file archivers and file managers (and built-in support in many operating systems), it is no longer the better choice performances-wise.
New algorithms performs better on modern architectures and scales better in performances on multicore machines, providing better results in terms of speed, especially for extraction, and compression ratio.

What formats are faster tha ZIP on modern hardware?
With WinRar, creating a RAR (PPMd algorithm) at fastest compression level resulted in a smaller archive AND took less time.
The same holds true with PeaZip with 7Z LZMA2 at fastest compression level, with extraction being almost twice faster than Deflate and even faster than with RAR PPMd, a bonus that is especially important for content distribution.
Switching 7Z compression to Brotli and Zstandard algorithms, which are ground up designed for high performances, provides utter speed improvements: both algorithms at normal compression level are able to compete with ZIP Deflate in terms of compression ratio, but completing the benchmark at almost 3 times faster compression speed.
Zstandard, which provides a compression ratio even better than Deflate normal, is twice as fast for extraction than ZIP Deflate.
Brotli, which provides a compression ratio intermediate from Deflate normal and Deflate fastest, is almost 4 times faster for extraction than ZIP Deflate.

Conclusions in brief:
  1. On modern machines using RAR or 7Z format at fastest compression level provide faster compression, and especially faster extraction, than using traditional ZIP format -  even benchmarking the fastest Deflate ZIP implementations and employing fastest compression settings for Deflate.
  2. While being faster, both RAR and 7Z LZMA2 at fastest compression level also provide significantly better compression ratio than Deflate ZIP.
  3. New Brotli and Zstandard algorithms available in 7Z provides further speed advantages over Deflate ZIP, while remaining comparable or better in terms of compression ratio.
Learn more about how to use Brotli and Zstandard compression in 7z files, how to create RAR archives directly from PeaZip GUI (providing WinRar is available on the machine), and how to create ZIP archives.

Synopsis: Fast compression benchmark: faster than fastest ZIP. Comparative of WinRar and PeaZip on RAR, 7Z LZMA2, Brotli, Zstandard performances and speed. Wht is the fastest compression format, what is the fastest compressor, which file archiver is faster. What are algorithms faster than Deflate.

Topics: what are the fastest compression and decompression algorithms, Deflate vs Brotli vs Zstandard speed comparison, what are the compressors faster than zip Deflate

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