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File Formats > Electronic File Formats > Compression

(Lossless, for generic data + file archives)

Compression + archiving

(Multiple files => 1 file, makes it smaller)

Archiving only

(many files => 1 file, no compression attempted)

  • BinHex (.hqx)
  • LBR (.lbr)
  • Tape Archive (.tar)
  • AR file format (.a, .lib) -- Unix Archiver (ar) format as used by various compilers/linkers
  • CPIO (.cpio)

Stream compression formats

A stream format takes a stream of bytes, and outputs a different, hopefully smaller, stream of bytes. These compression formats are often used internally in other data structures to compress data, as well as in network protocols, such as http. Used stand-alone, a stream compression format does not offer archiving capability, however in the UNIX doctrine, an archiver like tar can be combined with an archive format to produce a proper compressed archive.


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