How to work with compressed files on Microsoft Windows

While working on your website, you may encounter certain types of compressed files, such as .tar.gz and .tar.bz2 files. For example, archived log files are stored in the gzip (.gz) format. Depending upon your computer's operating system, you may not be able to read these files. For example, Linux and Mac OS X include support for these types of compressed files, but Microsoft Windows does not.

This article is intended for Microsoft Windows users who need to be able to open and work with Linux-based compressed files.

Linux-based compressed files

A2 Hosting servers run on the Linux operating system, and Linux supports several different formats for compressed files. Whereas Microsoft Windows uses .zip and .rar extensions for compressed files, Linux mainly uses .gz and .bz2. Additionally, these compressed files may contain multiple files in a tarball, which uses the .tar extension. For example, it is common to see a filename that ends in .tar.gz, which is a tarball file compressed using the gzip format.

If your computer runs Linux or Mac OS X, you already have support for these types of files. For example, to decompress a .gz file on Mac OS X, simply double-click the file in the Finder window. Similarly, most Linux desktop environments provide support for working with these types of files, or you can use the command line.

If your computer runs Microsoft Windows, however, you must install an application that can process these types of files. WinZip and WinRAR are commercially available applications that can handle these files. This article describes how to use 7-Zip, a free and open source program for Microsoft Windows that can process many types of compressed files.

Using 7-Zip

To get started with 7-Zip, go to, download the installation program, and run it. After you install 7-Zip, you are ready to decompress and extract files.

To decompress and extract files using 7-Zip:

  1. Locate the file that you want to extract.
  2. Right-click the file, click 7-Zip, and then click Extract Here. The extracted file or files appear in the folder. Alternatively, to extract the files to a different folder, right-click the file, click 7-Zip, and then click Extract files. You can choose the specific folder for the extracted files.
    If you just want to see what the file contains without actually extracting anything, right-click the file, click 7-Zip, and then click Open archive.
  3. If you are working with a compressed tarball file (that is, a file that has a .tar.gz or .tar.bz2 extension), you must now extract the files from the .tar file, because the previous step only decompresses the compressed file. For example, if you start with an example.tar.gz file, step 2 decompresses the file, and now you have an example.tar file. To extract the files from the tarball, right-click the .tar file, click 7-Zip, and then click Extract Here.

Article Details

  • Level: Beginner

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