What Are 'Zip' and 'WinZip'?

Understand zipping and unzipping files

'Zipping' and 'unzipping' are file management techniques for packaging multiple files into a single small bundle, and then unpacking it for use. Zipping and unzipping are popular for emailing file attachments, downloading files, and transferring files via FTP.

What Is a Zip File?

A Zip file is sometimes called an archive file. The Zip file is a container that holds the actual compressed files. The purpose behind the Zip file is transportation and storage. The Zip file acts like a sandwich bag: It holds contents inside for easy transporting and storage. This makes the ability to use Zip files (and their counterpart Rar files) valuable to file sharers and downloaders.​

How Do Zip Files Work?

A Zip file achieves three things:

  • It bundles one or more files into a single container file.
  • It compresses (archives) its contents by as much as 90 percent, producing a smaller file that's easier to send, move, and store.
  • Optionally, it can be password-protected against unwelcome viewers.

Is Zip the Same As WinZip?

 Although many people confuse Zip and WinZip they are technically different:

  • Zip is the generic file format of a compressed archive, which carries the .zip suffix (for example, thisfile.zip).
  • WinZip, like WinRAR and PKZip, is the name of a software app that creates and manages Zip files.
Was this page helpful?