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7z vs rar format

PeaZip is a free cross-platform file compressor application that provides an unified portable GUI for many Open Source technologies like 7-Zip, FreeArc, PAQ, UPX... free alternative to WinRar, WinZip and similar proprietary software.
- Create 7Z, ARC, BR, BZ2, GZ, *PAQ, PEA, QUAD/BALZ, TAR, UPX, WIM, XZ, ZIP, ZST files
- Open and extract ACE, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, LHA, RAR, UDF, ZIPX files and more,
over 200 archive types supported
Features of PeaZip includes:
archives opener and extractor, batch creation and extraction of multiple archives at once, convert files, create self-extracting archives, split and join files, strong encryption with two factor authentication, encrypted password manager, secure deletion, find duplicate files, calculate hash and checksum, export job definition as script.

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Maximum compression benchmark: 7z, arc, zpaq vs rar, zipx


linux rar software
open rar files on linux



Goals

1) Compare top compression formats 7Z, ARC, and ZPAQ (from PeaZip) with RAR (WinRar) and ZIPX (WinZip) in terms of maximum possible compression ratio.

2) Evaluate how each format scales in terms of compression ratio improvements versus compression and extraction speed reduction, with the increase of compression level.


Software settings

Benchmarks are conducted on Windows 10 2009 64 bit using 64 bit versions of:
  • PeaZip 7.3.1
  • WinRar 5.8
  • WinZip 24
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

Archive formats compared in this benchmark

  • 7Z file format (7-Zip, 1999) Open Source archive format, widely used and well-known for excellent compression ratio, tested using default LZMA2 algorithm
  • ARC file format (FreeArc, 2007) Open Source archive format designed aiming to superior compression. performances
  • RAR file format (RarLabs, 1995) proprietary archive format quickly building reputation of being powerful compressor outperforming contemporary zip, bz2, and ace formats. Latest RAR5 format revision is being tested.
  • ZIPX file format (WinZip, 2008) designed to improve compression ratio over ZIP with support for more compression algorithms. At minimum and default compression level Deflate algorithm is used, at maximum compression level WinZip tries to determine the most fit algorithm from supported ones, including BZip2, LZMA and PPMd.
  • ZPAQ format (Matt Mahoney, 2009) Open Source archive format, computing intensive, providing very high compression ratio, supersedes previous PAQ format, multiple times Hutter Prize winner.

Input data


Benchmark input, same of general purpose compression benchmark, contains 42 files in 4 directories for total 303 MB (318.000.857 bytes), composed by:

Compression / decompression performances test


Maximum 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.
Each archive format is is tested with minimum (fastest non-store level), default, and maximum compression settings.
Default compression algorithm and default compression settings, as pre-set out of the box by file archivers being tested (PeaZip, WinRar, and WinZip), are employed for each format / level.

Maximum compression benchmark results table, the lower the better for all columns

Utility, format, level
Compression SSD (sec)
Archive size (MB) Compression ratio
Extraction
SSD (sec)
PeaZip, 7Z, fastest
3.5
92.90
30.66%
0.9
PeaZip, 7Z, default
39.6
73.60
24.29%
1.0
PeaZip, 7Z, ultra
125.0
71.40
23.56%
2.7
PeaZip, ARC, 1
1.4
109.00
35.97%
1.9
PeaZip, ARC, 4
17.2
71.70
23.66%
7.1
PeaZip, ARC, 9
81.0
66.10
21.82%
40.8
PeaZip, ZPAQ, fast
6.3
102.00
33.66%
2.1
PeaZip, ZPAQ, normal
37.2
68.50
22.61%
26.8
PeaZip, ZPAQ, ultra
354.0
57.60
19.01%
356.0
WinRar, RAR, fastest
2.0
106.00
34.98%
1.0
WinRar, RAR, normal
13.8
80.40
26.53%
1.0
WinRar, RAR, best
48.0
78.90
26.04%
1.8
WinZip, ZIPX, fastest
3.0
105.00
34.65%
4.5
WinZip, ZIPX, enhanced deflate
21.0
94.00
31.02%
5.0
WinZip, ZIPX, best method
34.7
70.70
23.33%
46.2


Maximum compression ratio results


ZPAQ reached maximum compression ratio, compressing the 303.00 MB input down to 57.60 MB (19.01%), followed by ARC with output reduced to 66.10 MB. ZIPX and 7Z were able to reduce the input size to 70.70 MB and 71.40 MB respectively, and RAR scored the most poor compression performance with 78.90 MB output employing best compression setting.
All format shown a significant improvement in compression ratio switching from fastest to best compression settings, but for most formats most of the advantage emerged switching from fastest to default compression settings.
Especially, 7Z and RAR format shown very small improvements from default to ultra settings - which, as you can see in following chapter, comes at cost of much longer compression times.
The exception to this behavior is ZIPX format, providing a mediocre deflate based compression unless switching to alternate compression algorithms, with maximum compression, comparable to 7Z ultra, being attained using "best method" settings.

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Maximum compression speed results


Compression times increases for all format with the increase of compression settings, generally with best returns (in terms of compression ratio improvements) switching from fastest to default compression settings, and diminishing returns switching to ultra/best settings.
At maximum compression level, ZIPX is the fastest format, followed by RAR, ARC, and 7Z, ZPAQ being the slowest.
Using moderate compression settings, RAR and ARC emerge as the fastest formats.

7z, arc, zipx versus rar, zipx format


Maximum compression extraction speed results


RAR and 7Z formats shows a clear advantage in terms of extraction speed compared to all other formats, with decompression times staying under 3 seconds even at higher compression levels.
ARC, ZIPX, and ZPAQ decompression speed increases significantly at high compression settings, with ARC being generally comparable or better in speed than ZIPX, and ZPAQ being the slowest.

7z, arc, zipx vs rar, zipx performances

Conclusions


ZPAQ is the winner in terms of maximum attainable compression, but is slower than other formats.
ZPAQ at maximum compression level reached a 19.01% compression ratio versus 21.82% reached by ARC at maximum compression level, the second best result of the benchmark.
Anyway, even ZPAQ at default level can compare favorably (in terms of compression ratio versus speed tradeoff) with other formats at best compression settings - only ARC at highest level surpassing its compression ratio - with a 10x speed advantage of ZPAQ default vs ZPAQ ultra.

For all formats excluding ZIPX, average compression settings represented an optimal tradeoff between compression ratio and compression speed, with diminishing returns for switching to highest compression levels.
For all format each compression level increase represented an higher computational cost (with longer compression times), for smaller improvements in compression ratio.

For this reason it can be recommended to use other methods than increasing compression level to keep the output below a desired threshold, in example spanning the outpput to multiple volumes of fixed size in order to meet maximum size constrains, or deduplicate input data before compression.
This is even more true when compressing data sets containing multimedia, or encrypted files, which generally does not compress well, or does not compress at all regardless employed algorithm/settings.

Unlike compression speed, which generally scaled uniformly with increasing of compression level, extraction speed was more correlated with the archive format nature, with 7Z and RAR decompression times remain fast (well below 3 seconds) at any compression level.

In brief:

What is the most powerful file compressor?

ZPAQ is clearly the top performing format in this benchmark focused on maximum attainable compression.

What is the overall best compression format?

It depends on user's need, with compression ratio being only one factor of the equation.
ZPAQ and ARC are the best compressors, but 7Z and RAR formats has a clear advantage in terms of decompression speed, faster than for any other tested format.

7Z vs RAR, which is the best compressor?

7Z outperformed RAR in terms of compression ratio at all compression levels, but RAR outperformed 7Z in terms of compression speed.
Extraction speed is quite similar, and keeps reasonable for both formats at all compression levels.

Is it worth to set best / maximum / ultra compression settings?

Increasing compression level decreases performances with diminishing returns. File spanning and data deduplication are recomended in alternative.
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