The Most Common Archive File Formats

Archive Files
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In the past, we at have given you many information about different raster and vector image file formats. We talked about all kinds of lossy and lossless audio files as well as e-book files that are compatible with particular e-reading devices. Different kinds of document files and video containers and codecs have been discussed here as well.

One particular file type, however, is missing. Until today!

Lets have a look at all the different archive file formats, the compression methods they use and more!


Popular Archive File Formats

The list of different compressed archives is long. There are approximately 250 known archive formats, but the number is probably even higher since many programs use their own compressed files for packaging. The ones we look at here are the most common and widely used archive files you will find on the web.


7Z archives are one of the most versatile archive files. They have been called “future proof” since they were compatible with new compression software as well as with the old ones that came out when the format was released in 1999. 7Z archives support many different  types of compression (e.g. LZMA, PPMD, BCJ, Bzip2, Deflate) and encryption (e.g. AES-256), as well as pre-processing algorithms. It is most commonly associated with the 7-Zip compression program. Both the program and the file format are open source – something that may be a usage criteria for many.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Highest compression rate
  • Ability to split one archive into smaller chunks
  • Can compress multiple files
  • Open Source Format
  • used on:
    • Windows, OS X (command-line) & Linux (command line)
  • Slowest compression speed
  • Not inherit integrated in any operating system; third-party program required
    • 7-Zip

Convert to 7Z



TAR.BZ2 files use a form of TAR archiving. TAR itself is a function that creates archives only without applying any compression. Here, bzip2 compression (Burrows-Wheeler algorithm) is used to turn these TAR archives into BZ2 compressed archive files. Just like 7Z, TAR.BZ2 was licensed under the open standard license, and it’s compression method is, while not as good as 7Z, highly advanced in comparison to, e.g. ZIP or TAR.GZ archives.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Moderate compression rate
  • Open Source Format
  • used on:
    • OS X, Linux & Unix
  • Moderate compression speed
  • Can only compress single files (TAR archive)

Convert to TAR.BZ2



Similar to TAR.BZ2, TAR.GZ files combine TAR archiving with a gzip compression method to compress the TAR archive. Like the previously mentioned archive files, TAR.GZ files belong to the open standard and is most commonly used on Unix systems. The gzip compression is based on the DEFLATE algorithm, which results in lower compression rates in comparison. However, the compression speed is the highest compared to common archive formats.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Highest compression speed
  • Can compress multiple files
  • Open Source Format
  • used on:
    • OS X, Linux & Unix
  • Low compression rate
  • Older compression standard than, e.g., bzip2

Convert to TAR.GZ



Rivaling the well-known ZIP archive when it comes to popularity, RAR is another wide-spread archive format. In direct comparison to ZIP, however, RAR archives have the better compression rate. The RAR file format is not licensed under open source licensed, but can easily be compressed and decompressed with the free program WinRAR for Windows andcomparable software for Mac OS X as well as Linux.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • High compression speed
  • Can compress multiple files
  • used on:
    • Windows, OS X, Linux & Android
  • Moderate compression rate
  • Not inherit integrated in any operating system; third-party program required
    • WinRAR



The most common and wide-spread archive format is, without a doubt, ZIP. ZIP files are very versatile. They can either use as pure archiving files that group files togetherwithout compressing them, or compress single or multiple files into one ZIP file. Thanks to the compression being applied to each single item, ZIP compression makes sure that each file type is compressed in the best possible way. The most commonly used compression methods is DEFLATE, but others can be applied as well (BZip, LZMA, PPMD and more).

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Highest compression speed
  • Can compress multiple files
  • Build-in in Windows machines
  • used on:
    • Windows, OS X & Linux
  • Lowest compression rate

Convert to ZIP



ZIPX files are the “new and improved” version of the widely used and popular ZIP file. It has been introduced with WinZip 12.1 and uses an extended compression method. The compression rates are higher than those of “regular” ZIP files, but on the expense of compression speed which is quite slow.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • High compression rate
  • Can compress multiple files
  • used on:
    • Windows, OS X & Linux
  • Lowest compression speed


Comparing these archive files correctly, one can draw the following, rough comparison between the files:

Compression Rate

Compression Speed

FAQ – What Is There To Know About Archive Files?

Archive FAQ
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Sending or downloading multiple files can be a hassle. Either there are just too many or the file size of one or more files hits some restrictions within the e-mail provider or download service. For this reason, archive files have been developed.

They do not only function as some kind of folder to group multiple files of different formats, they also compress one or more files. This way, files take up less space for saving or less bandwidth when storing online or sending.


Here at, we get many questions about Archive files and archive file conversion from our users. Bringing some light into the darkness, we decided to create this short article that will answer the most frequently asked questions about archive files and the conversion and compressed of files.


Archive Converter FAQs


Why Do I Need An Archive File Converter?

We have touched this topic in our introduction already: why would you even need to convert files to archives? Depending on the operating system you use as well as your needs, archive conversion could or should be a simple necessity.

Here are some of the most popular reasons why to use an online archive converter to convert your files to archives, or one archive file into another.

  • You can not open an archive someone sent you.
  • You want to archive data.
  • You want to send files via e-mail but hit the file size limit.
  • You want to provide multiple files for download.
  • You want to save space on your hard drive.


How Do I Compress Files?

On you can find a number of archive converters for this purpose. All you have to do is choose the converter you want to use and provide the file you want to convert – either by uploading it or by entering the link. You can also compress files stored on Google Drive or Dropbox.

Then, hit the “Convert file” button.


Now, all you have to do is wait until the conversion is done. The output will be downloaded to your computer or device (depending on your browser this works automatically).


How Do I Convert One Archive To Another Format?

The conversion from one archive to another is just as easy as compressing files using an archive converter. Just, instead of an image, document or video, you choose an archive as the source format.

You can, for example, convert:

  • BZ2 to 7Z
  • RAR to ZIP
  • GZIP to GZ
  • TAR to BZ2
  • TGZ to GZ
  • and more


Can I Convert Compressed Files?

Yes, indeed you can. The different online converters of can interpret different archives and the files inside. If you, for example, have an AVI file inside a RAR, you can upload the RAR file to one of our video converters, e.g. the MP4 converter, and the AVI will be successfully converted to MP4.

Note that, at the moment, only the first item in an archive file can be converter.


What Converter Should I Choose?

Depending on your needs, you can choose from different archive converters. Or more precisely: you can choose different output archive formats. On, you can choose between one of four target archives: 7Z, TAR.BZ2, TAR.GZ and ZIP

If you are looking for a fast compression, we recommend converting to GZ or ZIP as the compression speed is much higher than for BZ2 and 7Z. If you are looking for a high compression rate, you should go for 7Z as it has the highest compression rate of the four archive formats. If you want to compress your data in a format that is compatible with most systems and used by most people, then choose ZIP.

Following, we have listed the benefits of each archive file you can choose:

  • 7Z
    • highest compression rate
    • open source format
    • used on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X
  • TAR.BZ2
    • combination of TAR archiving and bzip compression
    • high compression rate
    • used on Linux and Mac OS X
  • TAR.GZ
    • combines TAR archiving with gzip compression
    • fast compression speed
    • used on Linux and Mac OS X
  • ZIP
    • most widely spread archive format
    • fastest compression speed
    • used on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X



What Else Is There To Know?

Password Protection

Unfortunately, does not allow you to convert password protected archives.


Online vs Download

Unless you do not have permanent access to a stable internet connection, it makes the most sense to use an online compression tool and archive converter. Why? Because they are easier to handle and don’t require you to download and install a program on your computer. Installing software always puts you at risk of infecting your system with malware or a virus. This can not happen when you use an online service.

Besides, an online compression tool is in most cases way easier to use than a downloaded program. Plus, converting and compressing can be done from any kind of device such as smartphones and tablets where you would, usually, be required to install an app.