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Information about size limits with WinZip

Article ID: 99
Last updated: 06 Dec, 2013
Views: 75910

The maximum file size made possible by the original, open source Zip file specification was 4 gigabytes. This limit applied both to the uncompressed and compressed sizes of files inside Zip files (.zip or .zipx), and also to the total size of a Zip file itself. In particular, this 4 gigabyte limit applied to WinZip 8.1 and earlier.

If you tried to zip a file larger than 4 gigabytes, WinZip versions earlier than WinZip 9.0 would issue the following message:

These older WinZip versions were also limited as to the number of files and folders that could be zipped. The upper number limit was 65,535. This number limit, as well as the size limit above, are both part of the original Zip file format.

Beginning with WinZip 9.0 and WinZip Command Line Support Add-On 1.1 (released in 2004), a Zip64 extension to the Zip file format was introduced. All releases since that time, including the current release of WinZip and the WinZip Command Line Support Add-On include this Zip file format extension. For all practical purposes, the Zip64 extended format eliminates size and number restrictions. When the extended format is used, the member file size, Zip file size, and number of member files you can add to a Zip file are limited only by your system's resources.

For reference purposes, with the Zip64 extensions to the Zip file format enhancement, Zip files of 16 exabytes, which is over 16 billion gigabytes (or 2 to the 64th power bytes) are possible. Likewise, over 4 billion files and folders can be included in a Zip file.

In order to take full advantage of the extended format, both your Windows version and your storage location (hard drive, external drive, etc) must support such large files. Essentially, any of the operating systems on which WinZip can be installed (Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and their server versions) support large files. Currently, most external drives come preformatted as NTFS. If you purchase a drive or portable storage device that is formatted FAT32, you will need to convert it to NTFS.

Members of the Windows 9X family of operating systems (Windows Me, Windows 98, and Windows 95) are no longer supported by Microsoft or by WinZip. These operating systems used FAT or FAT32 file systems which did not have support for very large files. For a detailed description of the NTFS and FAT file systems and their size limitations, please read the Microsoft TechNet article Working with File Systems.

Note: One additional limit involves the maximum length of a fully qualified file name (path + name). The maximum length is 250 characters. This is a limit built into Windows. It is not a WinZip limit nor a limit of the Zip file format. Although there is no direct limit on the number of folder levels allowed, the character length limit prevents too many levels from being added.

If you have any questions about this information, please email Technical Support.

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