All About Archive Files

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All About Archive Files

A file that has the “archive” file-attribute switched on is referred to as an archive file. This means that the file has been designated as required to be backed up or archived in other words.

Majority of the files that we come across in our everyday usage of computer have their archive file attribute triggered on such as an image downloaded from a digital camera or a recently downloaded PDF file.

Terminologies such as archive, archive file or file archive is generally referred to the process of result of zipping and storing a cluster of files into a single container file for easy sharing and storage. We will be delving into further details as we go along in this post.

Creation of an archive file

The creation of an archive file does not purport that the contents of the file have been modified or that the format of the file has been changed.

This means that when a file is created, its archive file attribute has been switched on which typically is undertaken by the program that tends to create or modify the file. This also means that transferring the file from one location to another will trigger the archive file attribute on since the file has been essentially created in a new location.

Opening or viewing a file without the archive file attribute triggered on will not switch it on or render the file as an archive file.

When the archive file attribute has been configured, its value is set up as zero to indicate that it has been back up already. A value of one means that the file has been modified since the last backup was made and therefore it needs to be backed up anytime soon.

Modifying the archive file attribute manually

An archive file can be configured manually to inform a backup program whether it needs to be backed up or not.

You may modify the archive file attribute using the command line prompt with the attrib command. This is a detailed post on the usage of attrib command to view, configure and clear the archive attribute using the command prompt.

You can also modify the archive file attribute via the common graphical user interface in Windows. Simply rick click a file and access its Properties. Click the Advanced button in the General tab to clear or configure the box next to File is ready for archiving. When that box is checked, the file is ready to be archived.

The same process can be accomplished in order to switch the archive folder attribute for folders. Simply rick click a folder and access its Properties. Click the Advanced button in the General tab to clear or configure the box next to Folder is ready for archiving. When that box is checked, the folder is ready to be archived.

Use of an archive file

A backup software or the utility that your online backup service has got installed on your computer can employ different techniques to figure out if a file needs to be backed up such as by going through its date of creation and modification.

Another technique is to view the archive file attribute to determine which files were changed after the last backup. This gauges the files that need to be backed up again to save a fresh copy as well as the files which were not modified and need not be backed up.

As soon as a backup software or service backs up every single file in a certain folder, it tends to save time and bandwidth in the long run to carry out incremental backups or differential backups by ensuring that already backed up data does not have to be backed up again and again.

Since the archive file attribute has been switched on so the backup software knows the files that need to be backed up since they are the only files that have been modified or updated.

As soon as they have been backed up, the attribute is cleared by the backup software or service. Again when the file is modified or updated, the attribute is enabled and the software backing up your data knows that a certain file needs to be backed up. This process is repeated again and again a gazillion times to ensure that your data is backed up continuously.

Keep in mind, however, that there are certain programs which might modify a file but will not switch on the archive file attribute.

This means that reliance on a software that backs up only the files with the modified archive file attribute is not a guarantee of 100% backup of your data. Luckily for us, most of the backup utilities tend to employ other approaches in this regard.

File Archives

A file archive may seem to be a similar concept to a file archive but in essence both the terminologies are different from each other.

File zipping and unzipping utilities are also known as file archivers such as 7Zip or PeaZip have the inherent ability to compress multiple files or folders into a single container file or folder with just one file extension. This makes the storage of this content along with its sharing easier.

The most commonly used archive file types include ZIP, RAR and 7Z. These along with ISO are referred to as file archives or simply archives irrespective of the fact that whether the archive file attribute has been switched on or not.

It is quite common for online software downloads and backup programs to archive files to an archive file format. Downloads are typically available in one of the above mentioned three formats and an archive of a disc is generally found in the ISO format. Having said that, backup utilities may use their own preferred format or attach a different file extension to a file than the ones discussed above. There could be tools that may not even bother to append one at all.

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