What is a ZIP file?

 
 
 

When you see a file that ends with the letters .ZIP, it is a compressed ZIP file. ZIP refers to the file extension, that is the part of the file name that occurs after the period (for example: myfile.ZIP).

A ZIP file is a convenient way of compressing program files into a single, smaller file. It is faster and easier to download the ZIP file version of a program. ZIP files are also called archives because they contain all the files you need for a particular program.

ZIP files save time and space, and make downloading faster. All the related files you need are stored in a single downloadable file.

For more information, read about how to download ZIP files and other archived files from our official download site.

What is the difference between a ZIP file and an EXE file?

Sometimes program files are stored in another format, called EXE (for example: myfile.EXE). EXE files may also be archives, similar to ZIP.

The main difference between ZIP and EXE files is that, after you download the file, you may run the EXE file. It will then start up the program or install it on your computer. You may need extra software to read the ZIP file.

Some versions of Windows (XP and sometimes ME) can read ZIP files without extra software. Otherwise, you will need an unzipping program to read these ZIP files. Common unzipping programs are WinZIP, PKZIP, BitZipper, and File Tiger, but there are also many others. Many unzipping programs are shareware, which means you will need to purchase them if you use them beyond their specified trial period.

History of ZIP files

The ZIP file format was invented by Phillip Katz, software pioneer and founder of PKWare. His innovation is now seen on most internet sites and anywhere else downloadable files are found.