What are Zip files and archives?

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Zip files (.zip and .zipx) have been referred to as compressed folders, packages, containers, and archives. Zip files are the most common type of archive files that also compress data.

Zip files were originally created for use with computers running DOS and then Windows operating systems. Today Zip files are also commonly used on other operating systems, such as the Mac and Unix operating systems. As mentioned above, the files archived in a Zip file are usually, but not always, compressed. This saves space and also makes it easier to send them as email attachments. Zip files are also convenient for grouping data files. Rather than transporting, copying, or sending a number of files; you can zip them and easily work with one Zip file.

zipicon2.pngZip files are not the only archive type of file that you may encounter. WinZip can be used to extract the contents of many other archives as well. You may not even notice that you have downloaded another type of archive or that you received one by email. This is because WinZip associates itself with all of the archive file types with which it works and visually represents this association by causing the WinZip icon to display with the file name.

Zip files (and other archives) contain information in a highly encoded form. In this form the information is not directly usable by other applications. With WinZip, you can extract the compressed files which will give you exact copies of the original ones in their original format. After extracting the contents of a Zip file, you have the option to delete the Zip file. Doing so will in no way affect the files that you extracted. However, you may also decide to keep the Zip file in an alternate location, such as an external drive, as a backup.

With WinZip you can also create your own Zip files. Zip files are great when used to back up sets of your files (for example, folders with documents, photos, or source code). Keep in mind that creating a Zip file does not delete or change the original files.

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