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Definition: archive

(1) (noun) A file that contains one or more compressed files. Most archive formats are also capable of storing folder structures in order to reconstruct the file/folder relationship when decompressed.

One File Is Easier to Distribute
More often than not, archives are used to combine several files into one for ease of distribution. Although the compression algorithm may reduce all the files by a substantial amount, the size reduction is often less important than the convenience of distributing one file and referencing only one file name rather than a group of files. See self-extracting archive and archive formats.

(2) (verb) To compress one or more files and folders into a single file for backup or transport. Although archived files may remain on the same computer, "archive" implies data retention, and archived data are typically stored in a secondary location for backup and historical purposes. See archive program, archive formats, backup software, active archiving and HSM.