Comparison of archive formats

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There are many popular computer data archive formats for creating and maintaining archive files. The tables below compare many popular archive formats.

Contents

Features

The table compares various features column-by-column in the table below:

Purpose

The earliest use of archive formats was for backup, mobility, and archiving. Improved versions of archive formats added the ability to compress the data to consume less storage space and network bandwidth. There are multiple compression algorithms available to statistically compress data. Some kinds of data can be highly compressed and some kinds of data do not benefit from compression. Currently, archive formats are also used to package software files for distribution, installation, and execution.

Filename extension

The DOS and Windows operating systems required filenames to include a three-character extension to identify the file type and use. Filename extensions must be unique for each type of file. Many operating systems identify a file's type from its contents without the need for an extension in its name. However, the use of three-character extensions has been embraced as a useful and efficient shorthand for identifying file types—both for computer software, and for humans.

Integrity check

Archive files are often stored on magnetic media, which is subject to data storage errors. Early tape media had a higher rate of errors than is expected for magnetic media today. Many archive formats contain extra data embedded in the files in order to detect data storage or transmission errors, and the software used to read the archive files contain logic to detect errors.

Recovery record

Many archive formats contain redundant data embedded in the files in order to detect data storage or transmission errors, and the software used to read the archive files contain logic to detect and correct errors.

Encryption

In order to protect the data being stored or transferred from being read if intercepted, many archive formats include the capability to encrypt the data. There are multiple mathematical algorithms available to encrypt data.

Comparison

Format Filename extension Created by Introduced in Based on Purpose Integrity check Recovery record Encryption supported Unicode filenames Modification date resolution
Archiving only
Archive (ar) .a CSRG ? Original Archive No No No No ?
cpio .cpio Bell Labs Unix System V (1983) ? Archive Partial, select formats only No No No ?
Shell Archive (shar and makeself) .shar, .run ? 4.4BSD (1994) Original Archive Yes, commonly MD5 Partial Partial Partial ?
Tape Archive (tar) .tar Bell Labs Version 6 Unix (1975) ? Archive Partial, metadata only, by itself, but yes if used (as usual) with gzip No No Template:OptionalTemplate:Fn 1 s
Archiving and Compression
7z .7z Igor Pavlov 2000 LZMA Compressed archive Yes No Yes, AES Yes 1 ms (maybe better?)
ACE .ace Marcel Lemke ? ? Compressed archive Yes Yes Yes, Blowfish Yes ?
AFA .afa Vicente Sánchez-Alarcos 2009 Original Compressed archive Yes Yes Yes, AES and CAST Yes ?
ARC .arc ? 1985 ? Compressed archive ? No ? No 2s
ARJ .arj Robert Jung 1991 AR001 and AR002 Compressed archive Yes Yes Yes No ?
Cabinet .cab Microsoft Corp. Windows 3.1 (1992) ? Compressed archive ? ? No ? ?
Compact Pro .cpt Bill Goodman May 5, 1990 (as "Compactor") Original Compressed archive Yes No Yes ? ?
Disk Archive (DAR) .dar Denis Corbin 2002 tar archive ? ?Template:Fn Yes Yes ?
DGCA .dgc Shin-ichi Tsuruta 2001 GCA Compressed archive Yes Yes Yes Yes ?
Format Filename extension Created by Introduced in Based on Purpose Integrity check Recovery record Encryption supported Unicode filenames Modification Date Resolution
LHA (also LZH) .lzh, .lha Haruyasu Yoshizaki 1988 Frozen Compressed archive Only on recent LHA releases No No No 1–2 s
LZX .lzx Jonathan Forbes and Tomi Poutanen 1995 LZ77 Compressed archive Only on recent LZX releases ? ? ? ?
Macintosh Disk Image .dmg Apple Computer Macintosh System 7 (1991) Original Compressed archive Yes ? Yes ? ?
Partition Image (PartImage)  ? François Dupoux and Franck Ladurelle 2000 ? Compressed archive ? ? ? ? ?
PAQ (Several formats)  ? Matt Mahoney 2002–2006 Original Compressed archive ? ? ? ? ?
PIM .pim Ilia Muraviev 2004–2008 Original Compressed archive Yes No No Yes No
Quadruple D .qda Taku Hayase (aka sandman) 1997 ? Compressed archive ? ? ? ? ?
RAR .rar Eugene Roshal 1993 Original Compressed archive Yes Yes Yes, AES Yes 0.1 µs or 2 sTemplate:Fn
RK .rk M Software, Ltd. 2004 Original Compressed archive Yes No Yes, AES, Square, Twofish Yes 1s
StuffIt (also SIT) .sit Raymond Lau 1987 ? Compressed archive ? ? Yes ? ?
StuffIt X (also SITx) .sitx Aladdin/Allume Systems 2002 ? Compressed archive ? Template:Optional Yes, RC4,Blowfish,AES,DES Yes ?
UltraCompressor II .uc .uc0 .uc2 .ucn .ur2 .ue2 Nico de Vries 1992-1996 LZ77 and Huffman coding Compressed archive Yes Yes Yes, triple DES ?  ?
Windows Image .wim Microsoft Corp. ? Original Compressed archive Template:Optional ? No Yes ?
ZIP (also PKZIP) .zip Phil Katz 1989 DEFLATE Compressed archive Yes ? Yes, AES Yes 1 s
Format Filename extension Created by Introduced in Based on Purpose Integrity check Recovery record Encryption supported Unicode filenames Modification Date Resolution
Software Packaging and Distribution
Debian package (deb) .deb Debian Debian 0.91 (1994) ar, tar, and gzip Software package Yes No No ? ?
Macintosh Installer .pkg, .mpkg (multi-package) NeXT NeXTSTEP 1.0 (1989) ? Software package Yes ? ? ? ?
RPM Package Manager (RPM) .rpm Red Hat Linux Red Hat Linux 1.0 (1995) cpio and gzip Software package Yes ? ? ? ?
Slackware Package .tgz Patrick Volkerding Slackware 1.0 (1993) tar and gzip Software package Yes No No ? ?
Windows Installer (also MSI) .msi Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 (2000) ? Software package ? ? ? ? ?
Java Archive (JAR) .jar Sun Microsystems JDK 1.1 (1997) PKZIP Software package Yes ? ? Yes ?

Notes

Template:Fnb While the original tar format uses the ASCII character encoding, current implementations use the UTF-8 (Unicode) encoding, which is backwards compatible with ASCII.
Template:Fnb Supports the external Parchive program (par2).</br/> Template:Fnb From 3.20 release RAR can store modification, creation and last access time with the precision up to 0.0000001 second. [1]

See also

Template:Archive formats

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