Monday , 1 September 2014

B1 Free Archiver: Friendly file compression utility with password protection support

B1 Free Archiver is a free file compression tool, with a friendly interface and support for some of the most popular archive formats. The application also introduces its own B1 archive format and is 100% free, even for commercial use.

B1 Free ArchiverInstallation & Requirements

The installer automates the setup process, so users don’t have to manually perform any settings. As soon as the application is installed a Welcome screen pops-up, offering users the possibility of choosing the program language and going through a step by step wizard to see basic information on how to use it.

B1 Free Archiver doesn’t have any hardware requirements and runs on all Windows versions. There are also versions available for other platforms, namely Linux, Mac and Android.

Interface

Most Windows users will feel right at home in B1 Free Archiver’s interface, since it strongly resembles Explorer. The icon-based toolbar available at the top of the window, provides the main actions (creating, opening or extracting an archive), while the rest of the UI is dedicated to the folder-tree file explorer.

The Create option opens a dialog window containing a few options for archive creation. You can choose the name and location for the archived file and its compression format (for archive creation only B1 and Zip formats are supported). Creating a Zip archive can be done, but with no customization options. For the B1 format the program lets you split the archive into several parts of various sizes (some of them are the standard for Gmail, CDs and DVDs), set password protection for the archive and choose between multiple compression modes. With all these nice features, there is a downside though: the archiving process is rather slow. A ~1.5 GB folder took about 6 minutes to complete in Ultra mode (better compression, more resource usage) and 7 minutes and ½ in Classic mode.

While B1 Free Archiver only lets you create B1 and Zip archives, when it comes to opening and extraction the program supports other formats, namely rar, 7z, zipx, gz, bz2, tar, arj, deb, lzh, iso, cab and jar. The Extract dialog window is pretty simple: just choose the archive and the destination folder from one included options such as existing folder, new folder and always extract to existing folder.

From the small arrows present in the top-right corner of the UI, you can access another menu that offers a few more useful options such as testing an archive for errors and access to the program’s Settings. In the Settings pane you can change the program’s language, file associations, default open action, automated update check and others.

Pros

- Fully automated installation with no manual settings required.
- Welcome screen offers a step-by-step wizard to guide new users.
- Clean, intuitive interface.
- Explorer context menu integration for opening, creating and extracting archives.
- 256-bit AES encrypted password protection is offered for the B1 archive format.
- Can open and extract most popular archive formats such as 7z, zip, rar, tar, gz, iso, cab,…etc.

Cons

- Long compression times compared to similar applications.

Conclusion

B1 Free Archiver doesn’t excel when it comes to compression speed, but in terms of usability and simplicity it is one of the best choices for non-technical users. The free tool has a very simple interface and a nicely organized help documentation describing the most commonly used tasks.

About Alexandra Vasiliu

The list of things we can accomplish through applications or a few simple system settings is virtually endless. Between finding the latest trends in software, excitedly testing new programs and tinkering with their settings, I am glad to share any piece of useful information.
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