Home : File Formats : Zip Definition


Zip is a common type of file compression. "Zipping" one or more files creates a compressed archive that takes up less disk space than the uncompressed version. It is useful for backing up files and reducing the size of data transferred over the Internet.

An archive compressed with standard Zip compression has a .ZIP file extension — for example, Archive.zip. To open the file or files in a Zip archive, you must first "unzip" or decompress the archive. Both Windows and macOS include a built-in file decompression utility that can unzip Zip files. Alternatively, you can use a third-party file archiving application, such as WinZip or 7-Zip, to decompress a Zip file.

Zip Compression Ratio

How much a file can be compressed depends on the original data. For example, a plain text file can be compressed much more than a JPEG image file, since JPEG data is already compressed. Zipping a text file might generate an archive that is only 25% of the original file size, while a zipped JPEG file may still be 95% of its original size.

NOTE: "Zip" also refers to a removable storage device made by Iomega during the 1990s and early 2000s. The original Zip drive supported 100 megabyte removable Zip disks — significantly more than the 1.44 MB floppy disk alternative. Later models supported 250 and 750 MB disks. The popularity of Zip disks faded as hard drive costs declined and the storage capacity of portable flash drives increased.

File extensions: .ZIP, .ZIPX

Updated: September 30, 2019

Cite this definition:


TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definition of Zip. It explains in computing terminology what Zip means and is one of many file format terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Zip definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!

Subscribe to the TechTerms Newsletter to get featured terms and quizzes right in your inbox. You can choose to receive either a daily or weekly email.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe at any time.
Questions? Please contact us.