Are you in doubt whether to create a ZIP archive? To help you get over the edge, you’ll need to know about its benefits. But, as the saying goes, it’s a “different strokes for different folks” situation. This means that although the process is the same, the reasons for doing it can be completely different from person to person. For that reason, we’ll list the major reasons that motivate people to follow the necessary steps for creating a ZIP file. Hopefully, one or more will appeal to you and convince you to take the plunge. Here are the answers to the question, “why ZIP a file?”
Reasons to ZIP a File
The point of zipping files is pretty obvious to anyone who used it at least once. But there is more to it than it seems. These are 7 reasons why you might want to ZIP files.
1. To transfer files easily
This is the primary reason people used ZIP files in the past. It isn’t as obvious with one file, but if you choose to ZIP 20 files, including folders with files, you now have a single archive that contains everything. When extracted, the files are back to their original state and location. This is convenient whether you’re uploading the ZIP file to the cloud, sending it through e-mail, copying it to a flash drive, external HDD, or even to another partition on your computer.
2. To save space through compression
If you compare a file you zipped and a ZIP file, you would notice that the latter is smaller in file size. This is thanks to a major feature, a special lossless compression algorithm, which means that no part of an original file is lost in the process. The compression is temporary – as soon as you extract the file, it will be back to its initial size.
3. To stay organized
Our third point is a combination of the first two points. Since files are reduced in size, and you don’t necessarily have to transfer a ZIP file, you can easily organize thousands of files scattered throughout partitions into a few ZIP files. They’ll be easy to find, plus you’re saving precious storage space. It’s a win-win situation.
4. To put a password for protection
Are you looking to generate a ZIP file for local storage, as a cloud backup, or to share it with thousands of others on the Internet? Regardless of the goal, it’s nice to know that only those with the correct password can access its contents. And, although it can be cracked with time, rarely anyone will have the means and the willpower to do so.
5. To encrypt a file
A step further from password-protecting a ZIP file is encrypting it. In short, anyone without a decryption key will only see a random string of useless characters. Although not all encryption algorithms are made equal (for example, ZipCrypto was deemed “quite weak”), some are pretty serious. For example, you can encrypt a ZIP file using AES-256, the same encryption used by VPNs to encrypt Internet traffic.
As a funny example that proves its strength, read about a man who initially lost upward of $300,000 in Bitcoin because he encrypted the cryptocurrency’s private key with a ZIP file, but forgot the password. Although he managed to crack the encryption in the end, it cost him thousands of dollars. Plus, he spent a lot of time and needed professional help.
6. To split the file into pieces
We’ll admit, this feature isn’t as popular nowadays. It was almost essential in the past, when CDs, DVDs, and first USB drives dominated the media transfer market. Essentially, you can split a large file into many smaller ZIP files, and burn or copy each of them onto a separate disk/drive. Then, when you transfer all of them one by one to another computer, you can begin the extraction process with the first file. It will not only extract the smaller files in order but also bind them all together to form the original large file.
That isn’t to say you can’t use this as a way to keep your information from prying eyes. You can encrypt and put a password on each of the files. Plus, to extract the big file, you need to have every small ZIP archive in one location. So, if you have someone snooping around, or a hacker trying to steal something, the person is powerless if he doesn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.
7. To create a self-extracting archive
A self-extracting archive, often called SFX, is basically a ZIP archive, but with a .exe extension. This might seem unnecessary. Yes, people are scared of opening a .exe file, and their antivirus will often warn them. But, SFX has two main benefits.
- If you create an SFX archive, you don’t need any additional software to extract the files. This is ideal if you’re sending it to someone who’s using Windows 7 and doesn’t use a third-party ZIP software.
- Unlike encrypting a ZIP file, where you can see the contents, but can’t extract them, the SFX archive hides the file names and file hierarchy inside as well.
Those were the reasons to make a ZIP file. If we convinced you to give it a chance, go ahead and learn how to create a ZIP file. Or, if you’re already adept, it won’t hurt to refresh your memory.
Frequently asked questions about Zipping
As you already got the reasons for making ZIP archives, now let’s see some of the most frequently asked questions about the process of zipping.
1. Does zipping files reduce quality?
No. Zipping files doesn’t affect the quality in most cases. Unless you are using a lossy compression algorithm, zipping files are usually harmless. As soon as you unzip them, the files will come back to its natural state.
2. Can ZIP damage files in it?
No. If you are using a good zipping program that is trusted, your files will not be damaged. Though, make sure to avoid zipping the same zipped archive over and over again. Zipping the ZIP archives with a goal to further reduce the size may result in data loss.
3. How much file size can be saved by zipping files?
The amount of file size you can save by zipping a file will depend on the specific compression algorithm you are using, the type of the file, the ZIP program of your choice, and several other factors. In most cases, you can save anywhere from 20 – 50% of the total file size.