Self Extracting Archive

Self-extracting archive

A self-extracting archive (short SFX) is a computer application which contains a compressed file archive, as well as programming to extract this information. Such file archives do not require a second executable file or program to extract from the archive, as archive files usually require. The files in an archive can thus be extracted by anyone, whether they possess the appropriate decompression program or not, as long as the program can run on their computer platform.

StuffIt for the Macintosh, Compact Pro, WinZip, WinRAR, and 7-Zip all make use of self-extracting archives. There are also programs (like makeself) that create self-extracting archives on Unix as shell scripts. An early example of a self-extracting archive was the Unix shar archive, in which one or more text files were combined into a shell script that when executed recreated the original files.

Distributing and receiving files which appear to be self-extracting archives can be dangerous, as the file itself may contain malicious code, like viruses or trojan horses. For this reason, many internet users do not accept self-extracting archive files and would rather receive regular compressed file archives without any executable code. Fortunately, many archivers are capable of working with self-extracting archives as if they were regular archives.

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