Prepare to bid a fond farewell to legacy compression tools like 7-zip and WinRAR: Windows 11 is soon adding native support for several archive formats, including 7z and RAR. In an upcoming update, you’ll be able to create archive files in these formats without using a third-party app.
This is big news in the PC world: The RAR archive format is over 30 years old, and 7z is almost 24 years old, and both have been popular for decades, for all kinds of use cases. Yet over the years, Microsoft never added native support for them, forcing users to seek third-party apps like 7-zip and WinRAR to open these files.
Until, that is, a recent Microsoft Build, wherein the company quietly made the following statement: “We have added native support for additional archive formats, including tar, 7-zip, rar, gz and many others using the libarchive open-source project. You now can get improved performance of archive functionality during compression on Windows.” Incredible.
Why RAR and 7z files were (and are) so popular
Archive formats such as RAR and 7z allow you to compress files to a slightly smaller size and chop them up into chunks for easier downloading. Back in the day, download speeds were slower and hard drive space was at a huge premium so anything that could save you time and a few hundred megabytes was a major boon. You could download (totally legal) games or movies compressed in 25 different parts as RAR files, and spend hours decompressing and stitching them back together before being able to watch or play your download.
Even today, these file formats are pretty useful. When you’re uploading a whole bunch of photos, videos, or other files to cloud storage services, you can create a single archive file to get the job done easily. Not only does compression help with bring files within size limits imposed by cloud storage services, but it also helps with creating a single file for upload. Some common cloud storage services don’t allow you to upload more than five files at a time.
With this new Windows 11 feature, the ability to create RAR archives within Windows is worth noting. Many compression apps can decompress RAR files, but since it’s a proprietary format, few apps allowed you to create RAR archives.
How to get native RAR and 7z support in Windows 11
This new feature will be pushed out to Windows Insider builds starting next week, and will then be slowly rolled out to everyone else using Windows 11. If you want to jump on it early, make sure to enroll your PC in the Windows Insider program.
To start, register your PC from Microsoft’s official Insider site. Next, head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program, then choose “Get Started.” Here, you can choose from three different channels. Microsoft recommends the Beta Channel, which offers a good balance of new features and stability, but for the best chance of getting this new archive support ASAP, the Dev Channel is the way to go. Just know it has the highest chance for instability, so weigh those odds when signing up.
Make your way through the on-screen instructions, then reboot your PC. Once started up again, head to Start > Settings > Windows Update > Update now to install the latest version Microsoft supports.
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