What Does It Mean to Extract a File in Computer? (Zip, RAR, 7Zip, Compressed Files)

You might have the word Extract several times when you download software, install a game, etc. But, many people don’t know what does extract means. So, here we will explain What Does It Mean to Extract a File, How to Extract a File and more.

What Does It Mean to Extract a File in Computer?

When we take out or decompress the data from a compressed file, it is called Extract. Sometimes, installing a Program is also called Extract.

What is a Compressed File?

Compression is the process in which we pack all the files/folders in a single file and reduce the size. 


Suppose there are 5 Folders with a combined size of 500 MB. So, we select all the folders and add them to compression software. The compression software reduces the size of each folder and packs them into a single file.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Compressing:

There are Three Main Benefits and One Major Drawback of compressing files/folders:

Benefits of Compressing a File:
  1. Transferring the data is easier. You don’t have to select and send all folders again and again. Sharing a single file is faster and more convenient.
  2. There is no fear of data loss. While sending/moving multiple folders, the system might skip some files due to network errors. Whereas, a compressed file is sent as a single file. So, either it is completely sent or completely skipped.
  3. It increases free space on the disk. Compressing folders will also reduce their size on the disk. 
Drawbacks of Compressing a File:
  1. You will require a compression software to Compress the File. Moreover, you will also need a compression software to decompress or Extract the Files.

So, here is the answer to What Does It Mean to Extract a File in Computer?

We Extract a File (Compressed File to be specific) to get the content compressed inside it.

Popular Compression Software & File Extensions:

File Extensions help us understand and identify the type of File. So, we can also identify compressed files by looking at the File Extension.

However, there are several types of Compression Software that use different File Extensions. So, without proper knowledge, it is going to be a little difficult to identify whether it is a compressed file. 

Although there are several compression software, we will tell you the most popular ones.

WinZip – .zip

WinRAR – .rar

7-Zip – .7z

Package File – .pkg

ARJ – .arj

Debian Software – .deb

RedHat Package Manager – .rpm

Tarball – .tar.gz

There are some compression softwares that lets you choose the File Extension (File Type) while compressing the file.

Some of the Best Compression Softwares are WinRAR, WinZIP, 7-Zip, Zip Archiver, PeaZip, Ashampoo Zip, BandiZip, Express Zip, PowerArchiver, ZipGenius, Hamster Zip, B1 Zip, Unarchiver, and more.

Installing or Extracting Files from Applications:

Some Compression Files are in the form of Applications. When you install a Software/Game, it is Extracting the Files. However, you don’t need any Third-Party Software to extract these files. 

The Operating System will identify the file type and install it on the device if it is compatible with the device.

These are also called Executable Files.

Examples are:

.exe is an Executable File on Windows

.apk is an Executable File on Android Devices

Similarly, there are other extensions like .wsf, .msi, .jar, etc.

Final Words:

These Softwares might ask you to get the Premium version, but the Free Version works fine. You can create Compressed Files as well as Extract them using the Free Version. Some softwares even allow you to add a Password for protecting the data.

Check out this article on How to Add a Password to a ZIP.

Moreover, some compression softwares allows you to Extract Files from other compressed file extensions, as well as create one. With this, I hope you understand What Does It Mean to Extract a File on Computer.

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