Example: "He sent her all the files in a single archive as an e-mail attachment."

An archive contains multiple files and/or folders within a single file. Archives can be saved in several different formats, most of which incorporate file compression to reduce the file size. They are used for consolidating a group of files into a single package. This can be helpful when transferring multiple files to another user or when backing up data.

In order to open the files contained in an archive, they must first be extracted using a file extraction utility. If the archive is compressed, it must be decompressed before the files can be extracted. Most file decompression programs perform both of these operations automatically.

Updated: April 13, 2010

Definition from the PC Glossary