Archive and Compression File Formats

Archive and Compression File Formats

File compression and archiving are widely used in today's world as we need to both store more and more files for longer as well as send more files more often. Here we will run down the basics of compression and archiving with some useful file types for reference.

File Compression

A compressed file is one that has had it's size reduced, the process can either be lossy or lossless, referring to whether some data is lost in the process or simply stored more efficiently but requires extraction before it can be used. This reduces the storage space required as well as simplifying the process of moving the files. You may be familiar with compression formats such as:

  • .bz2
  • .sfark

Archiving Files

File compression can also refer to archiving computer files, a process where several files are collected and stored together in a single file.

Archiving files allows you to keep your systems and processes organised as it is easier to deal with a few archived files than hundreds or thousands of files all over a system. Archived files can also be compressed, making all of your relevant data more manageable. Common archive formats include:

  • .tar
  • .mar
  • .ar
  • .sbx

Archive and Compression File Types

There are many different programs that compress, archive or both with different goals efficiencies in mind, this leads to many different compression and archive file formats. Some can only compress an existing file of a specific type, others only compress while some do both. Some common compressed formats you may be familiar with are:

These tend to be more common as they are versatile and, unlike those listed under compression and archiving can both compress and archive files.

Factors such as operating system are also important as file compression for mac works differently than it does for windows. This leads to some compression formats being useable only on one particular operating system.

Mac Compression files include:

  • .bin
  • .s7z
  • .dmg

Choosing the right format can be important, if you need to save space you should consider a lossy compression file type but if you cannot afford to lose data which can lead to problems with image, sound and video quality.

Accessibility is also a factor, compression file formats like .rar, .zip and .7zip are common and easily accessed and are more likely to be convenient for the people you are communicating with.