Term of the Moment


Look Up Another Term

Definition: ZIP file

(1) A file stored on a Zip cartridge (see Zip disk).

(2) A file that contains one or more files that have been compressed into the ZIP format. Also called a "ZIP archive," "zipped file" or "zipped archive," the ZIP algorithm is the most popular compression method in use.

Not Just the .ZIP Extension
ZIP files use a .zip extension, but other file extensions are also used. For example, .gz files are actually zipped files and can be "unzipped" by any UnZip utility program, although the extension may have to be renamed to .zip first. In the Java world, a JAR application is a ZIP file with a .jar extension. Office Open XML, the default format in Microsoft Office, starting with Office 2007, is a ZIP file. For example, the default Word document extension is .docx, starting with Word 2007.

Zipping a collection of files saves space due to compression, but most importantly, as a single file, it is considerably easier to transport from one machine to another. See data compression.

In the 1980s, Phil Katz developed algorithms for compressing files into smaller amounts of space, and his programs became PKZIP and PKUNZIP from PKWARE, Inc. The format became so popular that other companies such as Nico Mac and Netzip developed Zip and UnZip utilities, and the Zip/UnZip algorithms have been placed in the public domain. See PK software and WinZip.