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Could KGB Archiver Be the Best Compression Tool Available? Or Just the Slowest?

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File compression is so ubiquitous that it is now built into many operating systems as a standard feature. Zip files are generally the default archival format – occasionally replaced by RARs – but KGB Archiver is a tool that offers unparalleled levels of compression, although it does come at quite a price.

There is no financial cost associated with the program – which is in no way related to the former Russian security agency – but if you want to get the most from the app you are going to have to invest a good deal of time.

This is an app that claims to offer an ‘unbelievably high compression rate’ and the software developer produces figures claiming compression levels that are around twice that of the zip format.

Download KGB Archiver

The official website for the program is no longer online as the software has not been updated for a couple of years (although you can still find the site in the Internet Archive). However, the project is still available on SourceForge so you can download the utility and exchange thoughts and ideas with other users.

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Head over to the project page and ignore the download button. For some reason a language pack for the program is highlighted as the main download rather than the program itself.

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To download the software, head to the Files section of the page, look in the KGB Archiver 2 folder and then download the .msi installer file from the 2.0 beta 2 folder. After running through the installation the compression tool can be accessed through the context menu in Explorer – just right click a file, folder, or selection of items and select the ‘Compress to xxx.kgb’ option.

This is where things start to get interesting. There are only two compression formats to choose from, KGB and Zip, but there are lots of other options. You can choose from one of seven different compression algorithms and assuming you opt to use the sixth of seventh method, you then specify the level of compression you would like to apply.

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There are no fewer than ten compression levels available ranging from Minimal through Above Medium to Maximum. You can also password-protect archives and create self-extracting archives, but it is the compression itself that is of real interest.

Testing Compression

As a test I worked with a folder filled with 100 JPEGs totalling 222MB in size. Using Windows’ built in compressed folders feature, this was reduced to a zip file that was 221MB – virtually no change, but it was accomplished in a matter of seconds.

Running the same folder through KGB Archiver gave very different results. First, the compression process took around half an hour, but the resulting archive was significantly smaller at just 174Mb.

As a second test, I collected a random selection of files: a few MP3s, text files, Word documents, images and executables totalling 93.5MB. Again, Windows’ Compressed Folder made little difference in the size, reducing it to just 90.5MB, but it did so very quickly.

KGB Archiver fared somewhat better, producing an archive of 81.6MB. Again, this took over thirty minutes, and this is on a quad-core machine. Is a saving like this worth it? That’s entirely for you to decide.

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There are obviously some types of file that are easier to compress than others. Simple text files can be seriously crushed in size while many videos and music files are already compressed to some extent. What you can expect from KGB Archiver really depends on the files you are working with.

Compression in the Real World

The need for file compression has diminished over the years as hard drive capacities have spiraled upward and internet connection speeds have increased.

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I first learned of KGB Archiver four or five years ago. I stumbled across a website that claimed to have used the tool to reduce the contents of an Office 2007 installation CD to a mere 1.5MB – down from over 400MB.

This level of compression seemed unbelievable, so I had to check it out – just for the purposes of research, you understand, I already had a fully functional copy of Office and no need to obtain a pirated version.

Having downloaded the archive, I set about the task of extract its contents. I seem to recall the process taking a full day, but when it was complete there was indeed a fully functioning Office installation ready to be used.

I have not been able to replicate such impressive compression levels, but I have certainly found that KGB Archiver squashes files more than any other archiver I have used.

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In reality, there are few practical uses for KGB Archiver – at least when the highest compression level is selected. Used on a small files there is little difference in file size compared to other tools. When conditions are right, however – which means compressing either a large number of files, very large files, or certain particularly compliant file types – the levels of compression that can be achieved are staggering.

This is great in some respects, but the time requirement is something of a double whammy. However long it takes to compress the files you are working with, you should factor in roughly the same amount for decompression.

What do you think of KGB Archiver? Is it a useful tool or nothing more than a gimmick? Is it something you could see yourself using?

Mark Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny and intriguing. Never afraid to get his hands dirty with some full-scale geekery, he’s always trying out the latest apps, hacks and tweaks. He can be found on Twitter and Google+.

  • Published 01/31/13

Comments (18)

  1. Michael Sammels

    This tool seems handy. I am not sure if the self-extracting archive needs to have a copy of KGB installed. If not, very impressive. However, the *.kgb extension is not well known.

  2. Michael Shulman

    Interestingly enough, according to the screenshot, there is no multilanguage support for the Russian language. There is however, support for Ukrainian and Serbian languages though.

  3. Cal

    I used this tool a few years ago and found its compression amazing. However, most instances do not warrant such a lengthy wait time for the added compression. I use 7zip and rar for file compression and find it more than sufficient. the saved 10mb-100mb is not worth the additional time when you are saving on a 1TB+ drive. if uploading to a fileserver, both 7zip and rar offer part format, to address upload limitations.
    Frankly, hard drive space is no longer an issue. Thank you hard drive developers.

  4. theeo123

    Paq 7 is actually an old format, several programs are capable of using it, it’s not at all unique to KGB, KGB is much like peazip a nice GUI frontend to give easy access./controll over other peopels established utilities
    if you look around peazips website you can find a lot of info for it’s various algarithims, also there are websites, that keep running tabs of various compression algoritihims
    http://compressionratings.com/
    http://www.maximumcompression.com/index.html

    Paq8 and it’s experimental brothers, do offer insane compression at the cost of very slow and CPU intensive processing times

    Most real world parctical use points to 7-zip, Fre-arc, and Rar as being the best compression without entering into insano runtime teritory

  5. Michael Sammels

    @Cal sometimes I still find compression like this useful, for sending large files over Skype. Can also be handy if I am uploading to my server.

  6. epeace

    Hi

    From my experience i suggest that you look for this compression utility called uharc:

    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Compression-tools/UHARC-GUI-by-Brhack.shtml

    This utility is very very good i saw many games repacked with this utility where compression efficiency is up to 80% of original size, again from experience. I m not sure but command line of this utility has better performance than gui.

    Cheers

  7. co2

    try KuaiZip clone of winrar

    http://www.kuaizip.com/en/

  8. Bill B

    Is what you get in added compression by using a non-standard program worth the trouble of not being able to decompress your data if you’re on another machine? To me, no. And is the trouble of sending a file and making whomever you’re sending it to get the same program worth the problem? Again no. But I always suspected the Windows built in zip program didn’t do much.

  9. Andrew

    Once i downloaded Microsoft Office 2003
    it was ~ 2 mb kgb archive
    after decompression was ~ 400 mb
    it took ~ 10 h

  10. Cody

    I’m sure that the reason this tool is no longer updated is because it is – for most purposes – obsolete. .exe and .cab files, like the ones in the Office install, are highly compressible; the majority of files we use today are either ridiculously compressible by zip/rar programs (PDF, Office documents) or already compressed pretty much as far as possible (most video and audio files). The extra time required to compress/decompress far outweighs any savings in upload/download time (especially as bandwidth gets cheaper and faster) or storage (ditto my bandwidth comment for hard drive space). With regard to folks who mentioned uploading to Skype or a server, both zip & rar can split an archive, and in either instance you’d end up saving both time and effort.

  11. Nathan

    This article was terrible. Comparing a third party compression tool against that built into Windows with no other comparison? What would have been better would be adding a third party into the mix. Like 7zip. Compare the highest compression settings on that to KGB Archiver. Your testing methodology is flawed Sir or Madam.

  12. karandpr

    Most of the super compressed “KGB archives ” on the web turned out to be hoaxes …You appear to have all the installation files .When you check Size it says 400MB but the size on disk is always 10-20MB and most of the times it has Garbage data in it .The installation never appears to work .

  13. BigT

    I’m Genuinely impressed by the jpg compression ratio though. JPegs are the most notriously uncomressable files out there (because they are in a way already compressed)

  14. clb92

    Did some testing:

    Test 1 – 4 MB files (folder with the game Powder)
    7-zip (.7z) at max. compression: ~800 KB
    KGB (.kgb) at max. compression: ~900-1000 KB

    Test 2 – 1.26 GB files (folder pSX emulator and some games)
    7-zip (.7z) at max. compression: 690 MB (took 3 minutes to compress)
    KGB (.kgb) at max. compression: 743 MB (took somewhere between 1 and 2 hours to compress)

    CONCLUSION: Not worth it!

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  16. Sylluck

    Excellent compression rate, which is paid by a slow decompression. It is a choice.

    thank you

  17. Akhil

    I once came across a pirated copy of NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 which was of only 50 MB, on extracting it, it became a folder of size over 7 GB.. Unbelievable!

  18. Adamitj

    What about UHARC?

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