The Zip file extension does not have a full form. It is an archive file format that supports lossless data compression(original data perfectly reconstructed from compressed data). There is a number of data compression algorithms available, like DEFLATE, Huffman coding, arithmetic coding, Lempel–Ziv–Markov chain algorithm (LZMA), etc.
A Zip file could be understood as the combination of multiple compressed files and folders, sometimes combined together to form an archive. Phillip Walter Katz is the co-creator of the Zip file format and was initially released on February 14, 1989. The informal meaning of zip is “move at high speed”.
Figure – Zip file
Characteristics of ZIP:
- Zip file format uses the file extensions .zip or .ZIP and the MIME media type application/zip.
- Zip file format can be used with any operating system like Windows, Mac and Linux systems.
- Zip file supports password based authentication called ZipCrypto to avoid unauthenticated people reach.
- There are various .zip tools available like WinZip, WinRAR, 7-zip, etc. to create a zip file, or to unpack the contents of a ZIP file.
The main aim of zipping is data compression.
Data Compression : Data compression is a way of encoding structured data to take up less disk space when stored on a computer-based system. Basically, it involves re-encoding information using fewer bits than the original representation.
Advantages of ZIP:
- By using ZIP file format one can compress the files and folders to a large extent and can save up to 80% or more in hard disk space.
- Transmission of zipped files over the internet is much easier and drastically reduces the email transmission time.
- Zipping supports encryption of data, helpful when sending private data over the internet.
- The minimum size of a ZIP file is 22 bytes. Such an empty zip file contains only an End of Central Directory Record (EOCD)
- ZIP maintains privacy – Zipping allows you to encrypt private data, helpful when sending such data over internet.
- ZIP Improves file integrity.
Disadvantages of ZIP:
- Uncompression of files takes up computer memory and processor time to complete the task, running in the background. You may encounter Out of Memory error.
- Sometimes there may be a possibility that zip file get corrupted and extraction of files and folders cannot happen correctly.
- In some situations including compressing video and audio files, the file you are compressing cannot be made smaller, resulting in a compressed file that is larger in size than the original file.
- Damaged data can affect the entire Zip file.
- Unencryption can occur.
Applications of ZIP:
- Backup and archiving – ZIP is used to create archives of files and folders for backup and archiving purposes.
- File compression – ZIP is used to compress files and folders to reduce their size, which makes them easier to store and transfer.
- Software Distribution – ZIP is commonly used to distribute software and other files over the internet.
- Email attachments – ZIP is often used to compress large files and folders for sending as email attachments.
- Encryption and password protection – ZIP can be used to encrypt and password-protect files and folders. This adds an extra layer of security to sensitive files, ensuring that only authorized users can access them.
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