Like the more popular ZIP or RAR archiving formats, a TAR file is a hierarchical archive used to send compressed files over a network or distribute large data collections. The only difference here is that TAR is UNIX-based, so it isn't as popular on other operating systems like Windows.

That said, a TAR file can still contain all the major types of files like images and videos, but it is more commonly used for downloading Linux software like Ubuntu and Arch Linux from their respective sites. On these sites, there will usually be an "ISO" button that you can click on to download the latest version of the operating system in TAR format.

But downloading the file is pretty straightforward. The problem usually comes when extracting the file in TAR format. To help you out, we'll cover some basics about what exactly extracting a TAR file entails and then go through step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself using tools such as the WinZip.

What is a TAR file?

A TAR file is a computer archive that is created with the Unix command tar. The most common use for this type of file is to compress and combine many files together, which ultimately saves space on your hard drive. Compression also makes it easier to transport files across the internet.

As mentioned, a TAR file may contain any number of different types of files, such as text documents, images, videos, etc., but they will all be combined into one compressed package. These archives can then be uncompressed by using the same tool used to create them (tar) or an application like WinZip or 7-Zip.

The Tar format has been around since 1977, when it was created by Jay Fenlason. He was looking for a way to bundle UNIX software together on tapes so they could be archived, efficiently shared with others without any loss of quality. Today, the TAR format still serves many purposes - from backing up your computer's hard drive to sharing data over FTP servers that can't handle zip formats.

How to extract a TAR file on Windows

Extracting TAR files on Windows can be a difficult task. But the good news is that it's not impossible! It just takes some know-how and a little time to learn how to do it properly.

While TAR files are created by Unix and Linux operating systems, they're supported by Microsoft Windows too, which means that we can extract tar files from our PC too!

Extracting TAR files using WinZip

Extracting a TAR file on Windows is easy with the right tools. And in this case, the most efficient tool for extracting TAR files on Windows is WinZip. Thanks to its easy-to-use interface, the process of extraction itself is pretty straightforward.

  • Start by downloading the WinZip app. You can get it from the WinZip company website. If you already have it, it should appear on your computer's Control Panel under "Programs."
  • Once you have installed it, open up the program and look at the top toolbar. There should be an option that says "Extract" - click this button to extract any tar files you may have received via email or downloaded online.
  • After clicking the "Extract" button, you will be prompted to select a location or folder where the unzipped files will be stored. Depending on the size of the file, the extraction should take only a few seconds.
  • Once the extraction is complete, you can find the files in the folder you specified as the saving location.


As we've seen, TAR files are used to archive multiple files, but they are commonly used to install software packages. Extracting a tar file is relatively easy, but you will need to use the right software that works well with your operating system. For extracting tar files on Windows, we recommend using WinZip or 7-zip. The good thing is that the software comes with all the basic functionality. Not to mention, you get to download them for free.

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