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ZIP ZIP (Archive)

File extension .zip
Category Archive File
Description The .zip file extension is the most well known file type related to compressed and archived files. First released in 1989, the format is still widely used and is built into Microsoft Windows releases since 1998. It is also supported by Apple's OSX operating system. The ZIP format supports compression via several different techniques and even supports simply archiving of files without compression. Despite being 20 years old, the ZIP format looks set to continue to thrive whilst bandwidth and storage remain relatively costly.
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Technical Details The compression techniques used to create a .zip file do so by compressing each file individually. This has the advantage of potentially using different appropriate compression techniques for each file within the archive, however under normal circumstances it limits the potential compression capability. Although the ZIP format allows for up to 10 different types of compression to be chosen, the DEFLATE method is the most common. DEFLATE is based on Huffman coding.
Associated programs
  • Winzip
  • StuffIt
  • WinRAR
Developed by PKWARE
MIME type
  • application/zip
  • application/x-zip
  • application/x-zip-compressed
  • application/octet-stream
  • application/x-compress
  • application/x-compressed
  • multipart/x-zip
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CAB CAB (Archive)

File extension .cab
Category Archive File
Description The CAB file extension is a compression format developed by Microsoft. Originally used to minimise the number of floppy disks required to hold installation data, the file format is now used to minimise the size of files downloaded from the web. The CAB format offers effective compression because it compresses across multiple files ignoring the boundaries between the files. CAB files are often linked with self extracting files due to the ease with which they can be recognised as CAB files.
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Technical Details The CAB file permits three types of compression: Quantum, LZX and DEFLATE. Microsoft provide the ability to apply a digital signature to a CAB file. This allows a user to verify the authenticity of the file. CAB files are not constrained by a maximum file size that some compression files face. It is possible to spread a CAB file over multiple CAB files. A limitation of a CAB file is that it needs to be recreated every time it is changed, whereas other compressed formats allow for a file to be updated based on additions, removals or edits.
Associated programs
  • WinRAR
  • WinZip
  • StuffIt
  • MakeCab
Developed by Microsoft
MIME type
  • application/vnd.ms-cab-compressed
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