When working on a personal computer, it is often necessary to reduce the file size in order to save disk space. For example, you want to transfer files from one computer to another on diskettes. Or you need to send a large file by e-mail - by reducing its size, you can save both time and money. The best solution in such cases is to create a so-called archive file, or, more simply, an archive. This is a single file in which one or several source files are placed in a compressed form for compact storage of information.

To work with archives are special programs called archives. With the help of archivers, you can pack files into archives and unpack them, as well as view the contents of archives. Packing files into an archive is called archiving or archiving, and retrieving them is unarchiving.

There are different archive formats: ZIP, ARJ, RAR, CAB, TAR, LZH, etc. When an archive file is created, it is assigned an extension that matches the archive format. For example, a file named MyDoc.zip is a ZIP format archive. The format affects the efficiency of file compression; for example, a RAR archive takes up less disk space than a ZIP archive containing the same source files. In addition, the efficiency depends on the type of files packed into the archive. Image files with the BMP extension, Microsoft Word documents can be compressed two to four times, text files approximately two times. Executable files (with the .exe extension) are slightly worse compressed, and graphics files with the TIF extension are practically not compressed.

Almost all modern archiving programs for Windows allow you to work with archives of various formats. The principles of managing these programs are very similar.


It is convenient to consider working with archives using the example of the WinRAR program. This program has great potential. We will try to list those of them that can be useful to a novice user. WinRAR allows you to create archives of two formats - RAR and ZIP. In addition, it supports basic operations (unpacking, viewing content) with archives of other formats: CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE.

How to View Contents of Compressed

You can estimate how efficiently a file is compressed by comparing the numbers in the Size and Compressed columns. With the files in the archive, the WinRAR program can perform any actions: view them, make changes to them, run executable files (with the extension .exe, .com, .bat) for execution. At the same time, WinRAR will take care of unpacking the necessary files into a temporary folder, which will be automatically deleted when the program ends. In the same window, you can delete files from the archive and add new ones.

To add files, click the Add button in the toolbar, select the required files in the dialog box that appears and close the dialog box with the OK button.

To delete files contained in the archive, select them and click the Delete button in the toolbar ( or press the Delete key on the keyboard). WinRAR asks for confirmation before deleting files.

Creation Of Archives

Highlight the desired files. It is convenient to select a group of files with the mouse while holding down the Ctrl key. Pressing Ctrl + A selects all the files displayed in the window. You can also use the corresponding menu items File. Click the Add button on the toolbar (or the Alt + A key combination ). The Name and archive parameters window appear.

In this window, enter the full name of the created archive file. For this, it is convenient to use the Search Archive dialog box , which is called up by clicking the Browse button. In the Name and parameters of the archive, windowYou can also select the format of the archive being created: RAR or ZIP. The default format is RAR, and in most cases, there is no need to change it, since it provides significantly better compression than ZIP. If you are going to transfer the archive to another user, ask if he has an archiver that supports this format.

When you need to save a large archive on floppy disks, you have to create a multi-volume archive, i.e. consisting of several parts called volumes. Each volume is a separate file. If you want to create such an archive, in the Volume size field, select option 1475500 (this is the size of a three-inch floppy disk). It is also recommended to check the box Information for recovery.. This is necessary so that the archive can be recovered in case of data corruption since a floppy disk is an unreliable storage medium. It is convenient to create a multi-volume archive on a hard disk, and then copy volumes to floppy disks. Before creating a multi-volume archive, note one important limitation: it does not allow changes, that is, the files contained in it cannot be changed or deleted, nor can they be added. If the user still tries to make changes to the multivolume archive, a window is displayed on the screen informing of the impossibility of this operation.

If you are going to transfer the archive to another user, but are not sure that he has the corresponding archiver, you can create a self-extracting archive. To do this, you need to check the box to create an SFX archive (SFX - from the English SelF-eXtractor). Such an archive is an executable file, it has the .EXE extension and the archiver is not needed to unpack it. A self-extracting archive takes up more disk space than a regular one. A multi-volume archive can also be self-extracting.

After you have set the necessary parameters on the General tab, it is advisable to switch to the Files tab.

Make sure that the names of all the files you want to archive are in the Files to be added field. If this is not the case, use the special dialog box called by the Add button.

Click OK, and the program will start creating the archive. A special indicator appears on the screen informing the user about the archiving process.

Unpacking Archive

The archive can be unpacked all entirely, and it is possible - only the individual files contained in it. In the first case, select the archived file, in the second, go to the archive view mode using the View button and then select the necessary files. Click the Extract to button in the toolbar (or the Alt + E key combination), the Path and extraction options window (4) will appear, in which you can optionally specify the folder where the unpacked files will be saved. The default is the folder in which the archive is located. Click the OK button and the program will begin to unzip the files.

The easiest is with a self-extracting archive. It must be launched from Windows Explorer, as a normal program, and a dialog box will appear in which you should specify the folder to save files (5).

But what if you need to view the contents of the SFX archive or extract not all the files, but only some of them? WinRAR allows you to work with a self-extracting archive in the same way as with any other.

It will be more convenient to unpack a multivolume archive if you first copy all volumes to your hard drive into one folder. If this is not done, then, having finished unpacking the next volume, the archiver will display a dialog box asking you to specify the full name of the next volume. You need to start unpacking from the first volume, its name (if it is an archive of the RAR format) - either “name.part01.rar”, or “name.r00”. The first volume of the multivolume SFX archive has the .EXE extension.

Another popular archiver program for Windows. Focused primarily on working with archives in ZIP format. The main window of the program resembles the WinRAR window, but the methods of working with these two archivers are somewhat different.

View Archive. Extracting And Removing Files

First, you need to open the archive, to do this, click the Open button in the toolbar. You can also use the key combination Ctrl + O. In the dialog that appears, select the archive file and click the OK button. The list of archive contents is displayed in the main window (7).

If you want to view any file, select it and click the View button. The program that is associated with this file type will be launched. The same result can be achieved by double-clicking on the file icon.

If you need to delete files from the archive, select them and press the Delete key, in the next dialog box, confirm the deletion.

Before unpacking the archive, decide whether you are going to extract all files or only some of them. In the second case, the necessary files should be highlighted. On the toolbar, click the Extract button, a dialog box (8) will appear in which you need to specify the folder for placing the objects extracted from the archive. Close this window by clicking the Extract button in it.

Creating An Archive In Winzip

Copy all files to be archived in a separate folder on your hard disk. Click on the New button to open the New archive dialog (9).

Select the folder in which the archive file will be placed. If you need a multivolume archive, please note that it can only be formed on floppy disks - unlike WinRAR, WinZip does not allow saving such an archive on a hard disk. In the File name field, enter the name of the archive. Make sure that the Add dialog box is checked (this is needed to further define the archived files). Close the window with the OK button.

In the next dialog box, the user must select the folder containing the source files. In the File name field, there is a default mask "*. *". This means that all files contained in the selected folder will be included in the archive. If this option does not suit you, select the files you need by clicking the mouse while holding down the Ctrl key.

If you are creating a multi-volume archive, expand the Multiple disks spanning list and check the Automatic box. WinZip assigns the same name to all volumes, so it is advisable to put numbers on the labels of diskettes.

Click the Add button in the dialog box. The contents of the newly created archive will be displayed in the main window of the program (if it is not a multivolume archive). When a multivolume archive is created, the program occasionally displays a window (10), demanding to replace the diskette in the disk drive. If there are already any files on the diskette that you want to delete before you write the next volume, check the Erase box. Replace the diskette and click OK.

A regular archive file with a .zip extension can be converted to a self-extracting archive. To do this, open the archive in the main window of the program. Enter the Actions menu and execute the Make .exe file command, after which the dialog box (11) will appear. The Default "UnZip To" folder field (the folder to unpack, selected by default) is optional. If you leave it empty, the folder C: \ Windows \ Temp will be selected. Click the OK button, the program will create an SFX archive and offer to test it. Testing here means simple unpacking: you can check the newly created archive "in action". If you want to perform such a check, select Yes, Another window will appear in which you should click the Unzip button. Otherwise, click on the No button.

Integration With Windows Guide

You can create and unpack archives in the Explorer or My Computer window using the context menu. For example, if WinRAR is installed on your computer, then by right-clicking on the icon of the archive file, you will see the following options:

Extract files - unpacking the archive into an arbitrary folder;

Extract to folder_name \ - a folder with the given name will be specified in the current folder, and the contents of the archive will be unpacked into it.

To create an archive, in the context menu of a file (or a folder or group of files), select one of the following items:

Add to archive ... - packing files to an archive with an arbitrary name;

Add to "archive_name.rar" - creates a RAR archive with the given name in the current folder.

Support Drag-and-drop

The absolute majority of programs for Windows support the technology Drag-and-Drop (transfer and lay), and archives are no exception. To verify this, do an "experiment". Run the archiver in the archive view mode. Open My Computer and have a folder in it, for example, My Documents. Place both windows so that each of them takes up about half of the screen and does not close the other. Place the cursor on the icon of one of the files contained in the archive, click the left mouse button and, without releasing it, move the cursor to the My Computer window. Now release the button. The file extracted from the archive will appear in the folder whose contents are shown in the My Computer window. Similarly, drag and drop a file from the My Computer window to the archiver window. The archiver will display a dialog box asking if you really intend to change the contents of the archive. If you answer yes, a new file will be added to the archive.