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For alternate uses see: Archive (disambiguation).

An archive is a collection of records, charters and other documents belonging to any state, community or family, and the building(s) it's kept in. These documents are normally unpublished records instead of books and periodical publications.

A library can be seen as a sort of archive (as can a museum), but the word 'archive' is often used when stressing its role of preservation, rather than that of dissemination .


The word archive (pronounced Ar-kive) is derived from the Greek arkhé meaning government or order (compare an-archy, mon-archy). The word originally developed from the Greek "arkheion" which referes to the home or dwelleing of the Archon, in which important offical state documents were filed and interpreted under the the authority of the Archon.

Anthropological sense

Human archives, or organised public or corporate records, are essential to effective day-to-day organisational decision making, but even more than that, to the survival of organisations. Archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks and many other peoples including the Aboriginal Australians, whose immensely intricate archives were stored and transmitted orally but with reference markers in the physical landscape. Rock art was also used in Southern Africa which has more sites than in any other part of the world.

In computing, an archive is a bundle of other files contained in one file itself. Technically, archives do not compress, rather just tying together files and their structure, but in reality, many archive formats feature built-in compression, especially on non-Unix platforms.

Ubiquitous amongst Unix and Unix-like operating systems is the tape archive, tar file format. Originally intended for transferring files to and from tape, it is generally used to combine files before they are compressed, usually by gzip or bzip2. Other formats include ar and shar.

On Windows platforms, the most widely-used archive format by far is ZIP; other popular formats are RAR, ACE and ARJ. On Amigas, the standard archive format is LHA, while on Apple Macintosh computers, Stuffit is among the most common.

See Also

Last updated: 06-02-2005 01:13:28
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