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PeaZip, free file archiver utility, Open Source WinRar / WinZip alternative software providing unified cross-platform portable GUI for tools as 7-Zip, FreeArc, PAQ, UPX.
Create 7Z, ARC, BZ2, GZ, PAQ, PEA, self-extracting archives, TAR, WIM, XZ, ZIP files
Open and extract 150+ archive types: ACE, CAB, DMG, ISO, RAR, UDF, ZIPX files...
Features includes: extract, create and convert multiple archives at once, split / join files, strong encryption with two factor authentication, encrypted password manager, secure delete, find duplicate files, calculate hash value, export job definition as script to automate backup / restore.

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TAR files

tar command

How to create, open and extract TAR TBZ TGZ files on Windows and Linux

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How to create, open and extract TAR TBZ TGZ files on Windows and Linux


TARtar file format is a popular archiving format, mainstream for data backup and distribution purpose on Unix and Unix-like systems, as BSD, Linux and derivates. In use since early Unix versions, predating integrated archiving and compression formats like zip and rar, it was later standardized by POSIX-1.1988 and POSIX.1-2001.

TAR file format doesn't feature native data compression, so TAR archives are often compressed with an external utility like, but not only, GZip, BZip2, XZ (using 7-Zip/p7zip LZMA/LZMA2 compression algorithms), and similar tools to reduce archive's size, i.e. for more compact backup, or smaller software distribution package.
TAR also does not natively support cryptography, but it is possible to compress the TAR package with a compression format providing encryption features such as zip, 7z, arc, pea.

Bzip2 (created by Julian Seward, 1996) is a pure data compression format (not providing file archival feature), based on Burrows–Wheeler transform.


Compression speed is somewhat slower than zip/gzip classic Deflate algorithm (even if Bzip2 function can be easily made parallel, and benefit of recent multi-core CPU), but faster than more powerful compression schemes as in RAR and 7Z formats. Compression ratio, also, is usually intermediate between older Deflate-based ZIP/GZ files and modern RAR, 7Z, ZPX formats.


Compressed files are usually identified by .bz2 extension, and can contain a single input file.
Due this by-design limitation, on Unix/Linux systems BZip2 compression (as well as Gzip, XZ,...) is usually cascaded TAR archiving -  multiple files data and metadata (file attributes, date/time etc) are consolidated into a single uncompressed .tar container - producing TBZ2 file, which can be identified with TBZ, TB2, or TAR.BZ2 extension.

GZip is a single file compression format, identified by .gz extension, created for GZip (GNU Zip or gratis Zip) project in 1992 by Jean-Loup Gailly and Mark Adler, based on DEFLATE algorithm (also used as default algorithm in PKZip/WinZip Zip file format), a combination of Lempel-Ziv coding (LZ77) and Huffman coding.

7-Zip (and PeaZip, which handles zip and gzip files through Open Source 7-Zip/p7Zip binary backend) use an custom optimized DEFLATE implementation producing better compression ratios than standard reference DEFLATE implementation, keeping full compatibility with other compression utilities working on .zip/.gzip files, but using more processor time (Gzip compression and extraction is however very fast, and CPU/RAM-light, for today's machines capabilities).

Gzip's GZ file format lacks file archiving feature - it can compress each single file, but cannot consolidate multiple input file in a single (compressed) container archive - for that reason it is commonly used on Unix/Linux world to compress TAR archives, producing TGZ file (if single file extension convention is used) or TAR.GZ file (using double extension).

PeaZip, both on Microsoft Windows and Linux systems, can:
  • read (open, browse, search, test and extract) uncompressed TAR as well as compressed TAR files: TGZ, TAR.GZ, TBZ2, TBZ, TB2, TAR.BZ2, TAZ, TZ, TAR.Z, TLZ, TAR.LZ, TAR.LZMA, TXZ, TAR.XZ, etc...
  • write (create new archives, update existing files) TAR files, uncompressed or compressed in any featured compression format (7Z, BZ2, GZ, LPAQ, PAQ etc...)
Opening a compressed TAR file (i.e. with aforementioned TGZ or TBZ extension) in PeaZip will show the underlying TAR package as content of the compressed file, so in those case de-compressing and untar steps will not proceed as atomic operation.
You can then doubleclick the TAR file in PeaZip archive browser to launch another instance of the program which will display the actual content of the TAR archive, otherwise you can simply extract the TAR archive from the compressed container (i.e. drag & drop it to the desktop, but more extraction procedures are described in details below) and then open it with PeaZip again if you actually want to unpack (untar) its content.

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To extract a TAR archive, PeaZip provides following ways:
  • System's context menu
    • "Extract here" immediately unpack the whole archive in current directory without asking other interaction
    • "Extract here (to new folder)" creates a new empty directory in current path to extract the data in, preventing naming conflicts (files with same name exists in the output path)
    • "Extract..." shows extraction from providing more options, as custom output path, password (if needed), skip, rename or overwrite existing files, etc
  • Double-click the archive to open it in PeaZip (on MS Windows by default tar filename extension is associated to PeaZip after installation), or open it from PeaZips file/archive navigator:
    • "Extract" button shows full option extraction screen described before
    • "Extract all to..." only asks for output path
    • "Extract" submenu in applications' context menu features option to extract all, displayed (only files/folders in current path or search result), or selected content
    • drag & drop extracts selected items
To create a TAR file:
  • Drag&drop data to the application, or within a PeaZip instance select files / dirs and click Add button (or "Add" from context menu)
    • archiving form is displayed, allowing to chose output archive name, path, and other options (more are featured in Advanced tab)
  • In Windows, from file explorer select files / folders, rightclick and select Add to archive to display archive creation form, then chose TAR in archive format dropdown menu (below output field).
  • When adding folders or multiple files to single file compressors, in example selecting BZIP2 or GZ format in aforementioned archive format picker, PeaZip automatically switches on "Tar before" switch. This option (that, however, is available for all formats) consolidate input data into a tar archive before actual compression, providing
    • a way to save and preserve Unix/Linux file metadata which might not be supported by the final format
    • input consolidation provides solid compression regardless the format
Both in extraction and archiving screens, Console tab is meant as an user friendly tool to convert the task defined in GUI into a command line script, bridging the gap between console flexibility and graphical application ease of use, and a convenient way to learn PeaZip's backend 7-Zip's / p7Zip tar command line by examples.
Schedule tab (available only on MS Windows systems, Vista or more recent) allows to easily automate the task (i.e. for backup / restore at fixed hours, days of the week or of the month).

A completely unrelated use of double file extension spread after Microsoft set "Hide known file types extensions" option enabled by default for Microsoft Windows XP and newer systems - this is still the default behavior on Vista, 7, 8/8.1, 10 - opening the ground for attack exploiting hidden files extensions.
This option allows an attacker to trivially add a file extension before the true one in order to mask the real nature of the file - being the last file extension hidden by default to end users by the system in file browser and most applications following system's file browser policies.

In example, an executable virus named attachment.exe can be renamed in attachment.doc.exe.
By deafult, end user would be prompted "attachment.doc" (or any other harmless file extension used by the attacker, i.e. .jpeg, .mpg), but once clicked the file would be executed as .exe file (true file extension) by the system.
In this way an executable file that should trigger a great level of awareness and caution from user (e.g. .exe, .scr, .bat, .vb, .js...) can be easily masked as harmless, common, file type to mislead end user.

PeaZip file and archive browser never hide file extension, avoiding this type of forgery. Moreover PeaZip warns each time an executable or script file is being executed from an archive, in this way 1) the user is made aware of the potentially harmful nature of the file 2) the user can evaluate if it is needed to extract the whole archive before, as executable and script files could need some archived resources (i.e. dll) to be available in uncompressed form before properly running.
Sometimes files with double extension are treated as suspicious ones, but if it is the right case for executable ones (exe or script file type as last extension), it is definitely NOT the case for archive files with double extension, being TAR.something very common file types - especially on *x systems.

Topics: create tar file, free tar file opener / viewer, extract TAR archives, untar file, tar command examples, unzip TAR on Windows and Linux, download TAR files extractor utility, manage tar format, browse, explore, view, tar file extensions, handle tar.bz2, tar.gz, tar.lzma, tar.lz, tar.xz, tar.z, extract taz, tb2, navigate tbz, tbz2 player, hanlde tgz, tlz, txz, tz, convert tar file.

Related articles:  7-Zip 7Z format, CAB files, Extract RAR archives, Zip/Unzip, Open encrypted fileWhat is solid compression?

FAQ > Archive management > Open Tar files on Windows, Linux and BSD







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