ARCHIVED: What are compressed files, and how do I open them?

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Information here may no longer be accurate, and links may no longer be available or reliable.

Compressed (i.e., archived or zipped) files may contain many separate files in one large archive, which often take up less space than the original files. Before you can read or run all the separate files and programs, you must use an archiving program to extract the files from the archive.

Many shareware and freeware programs exist that have this ability. The best archivers allow you to do such things as look at the compressed files before extraction, select which files you want to extract, and allow drag-and-drop operations. They might also support a large variety of different archive file types, such as tar, GNU, Zip (Unix and Mac OS X), Zip (Windows), and StuffIt (Mac OS and Mac OS X). To allow transfer of binary files by email, some archivers have various coding schemes, such as uuencoding, built in.

You can find archive programs at most FTP sites and on the web at many shareware sites. For more information, see the "Also see:" section below.

Note: You cannot download archived files using an ASCII file transfer. If you are transferring an archived file by FTP or SFTP, be sure that your file transfer type is set to binary. Many current file transfer programs will automatically select the correct setting, and graphic file transfer clients typically have an option that allows you to specify a binary transfer manually. To set your program manually in a command-line FTP or SFTP program, at the FTP or SFTP prompt, enter:


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Last modified on 2018-01-18 10:36:50.