I only realised this afternoon that the ZIP format has a limit of what appears to be around 20gb. I am trying to automate an archive process (using Automate) to zip/rar/whatever a collection of folders/files on one of my disks. It always appeared to bomb out with an incomplete archive at about 20gb. So I tried using WinRAR and doing it manually as a ZIP file, but it told me of the limit.

So, I was wondering, what is a recommended zip format (and tool for accomplishing the task) for archiving up a large amount of data (around 50gb)?


I am not sure about the file size, but try 7-zip

7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.

You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You don't need to register or pay for 7-Zip.

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  • +1: 7-Zip will definitely do the job, and well. It's also free/open source. – afrazier Jul 1 '11 at 15:50
  • +1 for 7-Zip. I use it personally and professionally. – Tyler Faile Jul 1 '11 at 16:08
  • +1, But be aware of how much CPU effort it uses - compressing 50gb will take a while even with a very modern CPU. If it takes too long you can tweak various options to speed it up at the expense of reducing the resulting compression rates (though as 7zip's native method does significantly better than zip for most inputs, you are likely to have some room to manoeuvre before you get back up to the same resulting filesize zip produces). – David Spillett Jul 1 '11 at 16:12
  • Thanks for the info. I'm trying it out now from the command line - will see how it handles it. – marcusstarnes Jul 1 '11 at 16:58

If you are going to send the file to someone who needs to decompress it, I recommend checking which format decompresses fastest, as this is where there can be huge differences even if the compression ratio is very similar. I know that a couple years back RAR was at least twice as fast but there may have been improvements in 7-zip since. And I really hope there would be since that might spur some competition on the decompression speed.

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