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Definition: archive

(1) (noun) A file that contains one or more compressed files. Most archive formats are also capable of maintaining the folder structure 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 distribution. Depending on the type of data, the compression algorithm may reduce the files a lot or a little; however, the size reduction is often not important. It is the convenience of distributing one file and referencing only one file name. 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 in the same computer, the word "archive" implies data retention, and archived data is often stored in a secondary location for backup and historical purposes. See archive program, archive formats, backup software, active archiving and HSM.