An archive is a compressed collection of files. Compressing files means storing a file in such a way that it takes up less space on the hard drive. A compressed file will need to be decompressed before it can be used normally.
For modding, the benefits of compressing files and storing them into one file are:
- A single item - The player only has to download a single item to get the entire mod.
- Shorter download times - As mentioned, compressed files take up less memory. This has the added benefit of making their download times shorter.
Morrowind mods are typically distributed in either .zip, .rar, or .7zip archives. .zip archives do not compress their files as much as .rar or .7zip archives, however they can be easily extracted by any modern Windows OS (operating system). Meaning that the player does not have to download any third-party programs. .zip archives can be extracted by simply right-clicking and selecting the Extract option.
The other two archive types can only be extracted with a free third party archiver. Common free archiving programs are:
It is recommended to have either of the above programs. You will need at least one of them to be able to extract many downloaded mods, particularly the larger mods like Tamriel Rebuilt.
Add-ons will also be distributed in a compressed form.