Re: Query: stuffed/zipped generic term

Subject: Re: Query: stuffed/zipped generic term
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 1997 13:00:38 -0700

>From: Elsa Kapitan-White
>Mac files are stuffed and Windows files are zipped, playing off the
>of popular software programs for this function. What is the generic name
>regardless of platform -- compressed?

I've been watching the responses to this question, thinking that
the question would be answered to my satisfaction already but it
hasn't (OK, so I'm picky), so here's my two cents.

The problem with the answers so far is that both pkzip and stuffit
are dual-purpose programs; they both compress the data to allow it
to take up less room and consolidate one or more files into a single
archive. And yes, it is possible to archive files without compressing
them; and it's possible, although less likely, to compress files
without archiving them -- for example, using disk compression utilities
like Stacker or the one that came with Windows (I forget the name).
These programs can decompress compressed data on an "as requested"
basis, making it seem as if the data were stored normally.

I've included definitions fro both "compression" and "archive"
below. Hope this helps. ;-)


***************** begin included text *********************

From the Free OnLine Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC) at

><application> The coding of data to save storage space or transmission
time. Although data is already coded in digital form for
>computer processing, it can often be coded more efficiently (using fewer
bits). For example, run-length encoding replaces strings
>of repeated characters (or other units of data) with a single character
and a count. There are many compression algorithms and
>utilities. Compressed data must be decompressed before it can be used.
>The standard Unix compression utilty is called compress though GNU's gzip
is better. Other compression utilties include pack,
>zip and pkzip.
>When compressing several similar files, it is usually better to join the
files together into an archive of some kind (using tar for
>example) and then compress them, rather than to join together individually
compressed files. This is because some common
>compression algorithms build up tables based on the data from their
current input which they have already compressed. They
>then use this table to compress subsequent data more efficiently.

>1. <file format> A single file containing one or (usually) more separate
files plus information to allow them to be extracted
>(separated) by a suitable program.
>Archives are usually created for software distribution or back up. tar is
a common format for Unix archives, and arc or pkzip for
>MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows.
>2. <operating system> To transfer files to slower, cheaper media (usually
magnetic tape) to free the disk space they occupied.
>This is now normally done for long-term storage but in the 1960s, when
disk was much more expensive, files were often shuffled
>regularly between disk and tape.
***************** end included text *********************

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate. --Douglas Adams

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