I used to used Winzip and WinRAR for years as my favorite compression tools, Winzip was so common for handling Zip files and WinRAR had the ability to create multiple compressed files for easier transport. I have used gzip for Windows as well just because I worked back and forth on Linux systems so often.
7-Zip though has been my sole compression program for the past year and it even has a 7-Zip 64 bit version that fully supports Windows 7. 7-Zip handles every type of file compression you can think of (zip, gz, rar, 7z, tar…etc) and it has an awesome feature to allow you to just right click on a zip file and extract instantly into a subfolder in the same directory you are in.
The best thing about 7-Zip is it is freeware and completely free, you can download it and start using it right away. Unlike WinRar and WinZip which are ShareWare and require licenses and purchases for the full versions you can use 7-Zip without getting annoying popups and registration/purchase reminders.
One thing to note:
If you are using Windows 7 64 Bit make sure you install the 64bit version of 7-Zip or you won’t have your menu for 7-Zip when you right click on a file. I had to uninstall and re-install the correct bit version of 7-Zip a few times to get this to work. Also make sure you install 7-Zip as Administrator in order to set the files that 7-Zip handles by default and add the context menu.
If you deal with compressed files all the time you want a fast and free compression tool, 7-Zip is the program that I use solely for the past several months.