ZIP File

What Does ZIP File Mean?

A ZIP file is a file in the ZIP format which implements lossless compression in order to reduce the volume of saved files. The ZIP file system was created by Phil Katz in 1989 and included in the PKWARE company’s PKZIP utility.


Techopedia Explains ZIP File

Before the ZIP file format, the ARC lossless data compression system made by System Enhancement Associates was the most common means of establishing lossless compression. ARC dates back to 1985. When the ZIP format came on the market, there was controversy and legal challenges around PKWARE’s offering as possibly derivative of ARC.

After its being established as a common utility, the ZIP format started to be supported in Microsoft Windows versions starting in 1998.

ZIP utilities are often part of the Windows format – a user takes a file icon, moves to the command menu and uses the ZIP command to create a ZIP file which can then be transferred in its compressed form, for example, by email. The ZIP format makes it easier to move files around, and is still popular as a compression tool.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.