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ZIP is the most popular lossless archive file format. It was first introduced in 1989 as an alternative to ARC archiver. Due to being free and released to a public domain ZIP quickly became popular and now is widely used in many applications both on desktop and mobile devices. Initially ZIP was released as part of PKZIP application, which due to legal issues with ARC authors led to renaming it to ZIP. ZIP implementations use DEFLATE algorithm which is quick and efficient and not bound to any patents.


RAR is an efficient archive format authored by Russian developer Eugene Roshal in 1993. Advanced algorithms that RAR uses and high compression ratio in comparison with competitors made it very popular on the market. RAR comes in a form of console and Windows OS applications. RAR is also available for Mac OS as a console application. RAR supports multiple advanced features like AES encryption, multi-volume archives, and variable compression rates both through console and Windows OS applications.


GZ file format was introduced together with gzip utility by Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler in 1992. It was developed to replace Unix compress utility which was popular but heavily patented by IBM and Unisys. Gzip utility used DEFLATE algorithm similar to one used in ZIP which was not restricted by patents and could be used by anyone. Performance of gzip was comparable to compress. It used more CPU and memory resources, but it quickly became negligible with improvements in computer performance. At this moment gzip is de-facto standard for compression in Unix and Linux operating systems.


TAR is archive utility and file format which is typically used in tandem with GZ file format and gzip utility. TAR is short for tape archive and was developed to merge multiple files into one sequentially to simplify writing to a tape data storage. Later it was integrated with gzip to compress each file which is added to TAR archive. Resulting archive received tar.gz file extension. Many archives for Unix and Linux including source code packages are distributed via tar.gz archives.

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ZIP Quick Info
Zip File Format
  • application/zip
  • application/octet-stream
  • application/x-zip-compressed
  • multipart/x-zip
Opens with
  • 7-Zip
  • WinZip
  • zip
  • WinRar