What is a zip file?

A zip file, otherwise known as a compressed folder or an archive, is a file format used for making the size of files smaller.

A zip file, otherwise known as a compressed folder or an archive, is a file format used for making the size of files smaller.  Zip files use clever algorithms to recognise patterns in the data in a file, and then describe the pattern, rather than describing each individual bit of data.  

You used to need special software to create and open zip files, the most famous of which is Winzip.  Winzip is downloadable from the web, but contrary to popular opinion, it is not free. After your 30 day trial runs out, there's a nominal charge to continue to legally use the software.  However, thankfully, Windows now includes the facility to open and create zip files. 

Here is a video tutorial courtesy of Youtube on how to unzip files. (needs sound).

One thing that can catch people out quite often is email.  When you receive a zip file as an attachment, depending on how your computer is set up, Windows may not recognise the attached zip file and won't know how to open it with a double click.  If this happens, simply save the attachment somewhere outside of your email environment and then Windows will recognise it.