PeaZip is a free tool for creating and opening ZIP files quickly and easily. PeaZip can read RAR files, but it cannot write them, the one missing archive format we wish PeaZip could support.
We found PeaZip's interface to be well-designed and user-friendly. Once installed, the right mouse button brings up the traditional Explorer menu with basic PeaZip capabilities added to it. The default settings for most PeaZip operations will be adequate for most users. In addition to invoking the menu, you can also drag files over the PeaZip desktop icon to archive them, or drag an archive over the icon to uncompress it. Options can be selected to do pretty much any task you'd want to perform with an archiving utility, including adding encryption and optimizing compression formulae.
In operation PeaZip was not noticeably faster or slower than the latest WinZIP version, but PeaZip is free and easier to use for non-hardcore users that don't work with RAR files. Like many Windows users, we have several compression tools installed, and we found we kept returning to PeaZip for its simplicity and common sense defaults. A useful addition to any Windows system.