For years, 7-Zip has been one of our favorite Windows utilities. We recently looked at 7-Zip Portable, a fully portable version of the freeware file zipper. Like the installed version, it can compress and decompress files and folders in a variety of ways as well as open other file types such as TAR and RAR files. The portable version is small enough to take along with you on a USB drive, iPod, or other portable device. The chief difference with the installed version is the portable version can't be integrated into context menus in Windows.
We installed 7-Zip Portable on a USB drive, which only required about 6 MB of space. We clicked the program's executable, which opened the familiar 7-Zip interface, a plain but efficient layout distinguished by large, clearly labeled control icons and a main window with entries labeled Computer, Documents, Network, and a user-defined option. We opened the Options dialog and selected the Folders tab to designate a working folder (the default is the system temp folder). We could also make file associations, set various other program parameters, and designate a program to use as an Editor with 7-Zip. If you've never used 7-Zip, it's fast and flexible, but since you can't access it directly by right-clicking a file or folder and choosing 7-Zip, you have to open the program and browse to your target. However, that's hardly a major issue, and we were able to quickly compress and decompress files, email them, add them to archives, and perform any other function that the installed version of 7-Zip can manage. When we exited the program and removed the USB drive, 7-Zip Portable left no files, folders, or other traces behind.
As portable storage continue to grow, so too does the need for a powerful, flexible compression tool to handle larger and larger files. We've relied on 7-Zip since the days before Windows offered a built-in zip utility, and we're pleased that 7-Zip Portable lives up to the standard.