What is an ARC File?

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What is an ARC File?
ARC is an archived type of file. Its compression technique is of the lossless type and this was developed by SEA or System Enhancement Associates. ARC is also the name given to the archiving and/or compression program. In the past, compression and archiving were two different functions performed by two different files or applications. It was the SQ program that was tasked to do file compression, while it was the LU program in-charge of archiving with the result being .LBR archive files. The introduction of ARC made this process obsolete and made ARC very popular in the 1980s.

ARC was used back then by computer network administrators and people who used modems to transport files faster and more efficiently to BBSes. Archiving and compression made files smaller which result to faster and easier distribution along a particular network. And since the compression is said to be “lossless”, file quality is not diminished from the source of the file to the destination computer. A particular user can simply extract the compressed file/files and reconstruct it with the same quality and details from the original file.

The ARC format is not used quite often these days since this file is already considered an old system using old algorithms for compression and archiving. ARC works pretty much the same as the more modern ZIP and RAR archiving methods. The intention is to literally compress the file to make the size smaller for easy transfer and/or streaming onto different networks. Development of the ARC format has also stopped, giving way to newer archiving and/or compression techniques with better and improved features.

Some programs and applications use the ARC system though, especially for making backup files. One such application is the Internet Archive which makes use of ARC files for the storage of various web resources. The Symbian operating system designed for mobile phones also use ARC file extensions representing backup files which contain system and personal information.

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