Thread: Tar format
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Old 15-12-2019, 11:59
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tar (as in Tape ARchiver) does not compress files, it only packs them together with some headers. gzip, xz, bzip2 etc., on the other hand, compress files but only one at a time. That's why Unix stuff is archived with 1) files packed together with tar and then 2) the tar compressed with gzip etc. - hence the .tar.gz etc. double file extension - which is very similar to so-called "solid" archives: the multiple files are compressed as a single stream which gives you a better compression ratio but you can't extract a file without decompressing all the files before it. ZIP, RAR, 7-Zip etc. are archivers that do both these functions: pack files together and compress them.

But all these compressors are generic ones so you can't achieve the compression ratio of the special archivers you mentioned. There's only one common point: xz uses the LZMA compression method. (So does 7-Zip by default.) gzip uses LZ77 and Huffman, bzip2 uses RLE, Burrows–Wheeler Transform and Huffman; these are older compression methods, faster but less efficient.
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