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Differences Between the Many Archive Compressed File Formats

If you store files, file compression is something you should definitely be aware of. While storage technology continues to improve rapidly, performance is never bad.

Not to mention, many of our file standards today surpass what they were in the past – the 128 kbps MP3 we used to download to Napster are now replaced by FLAC, where one song can be as large as a whole MP3 album.

Many of us have files that we don’t want to get rid of, but that don’t need immediate dynamic access. This can be photos, videos, music and much more. Backing up these files can reduce the used disk space, which in turn can improve performance. It can also save your pockets – a 1TB external hard drive might feel closer to 2TB if you archive correctly!

Compressing files isn’t that hard to learn, but what about all these archive formats? Compressing files puts them in a “box” of one file, but this file can have many different extensions: ZIP, RAR, 7Z, TAR, GZ – what does all this mean? Is there a difference, right?

Of course I have! If there is one thing a computer excels at, it gives you power, and when it comes to archiving files, you have a lot of them. In this article, let’s discuss the differences between many popular compressed file archive formats.

What is a ZIP archive?

What is a ZIP archive?

WinZip was one of the first file archivers to gain widespread popularity, and it allows users to compress files as ZIP archives.

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Here are the main differences between the ZIP format and other types of archive files:

What is a RAR archive?

What is a RAR archive?

WinRAR has become famous for its never-ending “trial” period. After 30 days, you will start receiving a pop-up in WinRAR stating that your trial has ended, and you can just close it. RAR, named after developer Eugene Roshal, is an incredibly popular archive format today.

Here’s how it differs from the usual:

What is 7Z archive?

What is the 7Z archive?

Unsurprisingly, the 7Z archive format was introduced by the Windows 7-Zip app. It was back in 1999! 7-Zip and a library for reading 7Z files are publicly available under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

Here are some of the features of 7Z:

What is a TAR archive?

What is the archive of the TAR?

TAR is the most popular archive file format on Unix and Unix-like systems. It is important to understand that each TAR is just an archive file. It is used in conjunction with GZ, which is used to compress files and has no archiving capability. Together they create an archive file (TAR.GZ format).

TAR allows you to receive compressed HTTP responses and send compressed requests, allowing the compression ratio to reach 80%. This archive format is most commonly used for backing up and distributing content between Linux versions. TAR archives preserve group permissions, dates, directory structure and other important file system information.

As you can see, each archive format has its pros and cons – choose wisely depending on the type of files you are compressing and the purpose of your archive. Compression, speed and security have to be considered, and there is a time and a place for each of these formats!

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