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Windows 11's native file archive is impressive as 7-Zip plays catch-up with Zstd support

Windows 11 promo

There are certainly valid reasons why you may not like Windows 11. A lot of it has to do with the stringent system requirements Microsoft introduced, which turned off a lot of users who had PCs that were only a few years old - at the time of the Windows 11 announcement - labeled incompatible. There have been more changes since then. And those on eligible systems often find Windows Update reminders or forced / automatic updates.

Microsoft has also often claimed performance benefits of Windows 11, though some kernel digging has suggested that not all such claims are true, implying staying on Windows 10 isn't so bad, at least from the performance side of things.

Plus there are bugs and issues that pop up from time to time and do so fairly frequently.

One area though where Windows 11 certainly deserves praise is in the case of native file archive support.

Microsoft announced support for more archive formats in May last year, though performance really was nothing to write home about when we tested it later in August. Regardless, it is a nice addition for those who don't need to regularly compress or decompress large volumes of files or data.

Performance-aside, the company has been making improvements to it regularly. In November 2023, Microsoft added support for 7z and TAR, and earlier this year in January, "Additional Options" with support for more compression methods were added.

Though 7-Zip probably still beats Windows 11's native file archiving performance, in terms of file support though, the former is lagging and is having to play catch-up.

With beta version 24.01 released at the end of January, 7-Zip added support for ZSTD or Zstandard data compression algorithm, though the firm notes it is not exactly Facebook's. It writes:

7-Zip doesn't use original Zstandard (ZSTD) code from https://github.com/facebook/zstd

7-Zip's code does similar things, but it's another implementation of ZSTD decoder. So 7-Zip can have another bugs in code and another performance.

Here is the full changelog for 7-Zip version 24.01:

  • 7-Zip now can unpack ZSTD archives (.zst filename extension).

  • 7-Zip now can unpack ZIP, SquashFS and RPM archives that use ZSTD compression method.

  • 7-Zip now supports fast hash algorithm XXH64 that is used in ZSTD.

  • 7-Zip now can unpack RAR archives (that use larger than 4 GB dictionary) created by new WinRAR 7.00.

  • 7-Zip now can unpack DMG archives that use XZ (ULMO/LZMA) compression method.

  • 7-zip now can unpack NTFS images with cluster size larger than 64 KB.

  • 7-zip now can unpack MBR and GDP images with 4 KB sectors.

  • Speed optimizations for archive unpacking: rar, cab, wim, zip, gz.

  • Speed optimizations for hash caclulation: CRC-32, CRC-64, Blake2sp.

  • The bug was fixed: 7-Zip for Linux could fail for multivolume creation in some cases.

  • Some bugs were fixed.

Microsoft had confirmed its Windows 11 implementation is based on the open-source libarchive project and hence has had support for Zstandard since libarchive version 3.6.2, and already supports Zst, and Tzst formats.

And hopefully, in the future, we will see better performance optimization as well.

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