What Is TAR File Format? How to Open and Convert TAR File?

This article will explain what TAR files are, how they differ from other archive formats, what softwares can extract files from them, and how to convert it to a similar archive format.

TAR file

What is a TAR file?

TAR is short for Tape Archive, sometimes called “tarball”. Files with the TAR extension are in the Consolidated Unix Archive file format. Opening a TAR file requires a program or command that can open the archived file.

Since the TAR file format is used to store multiple files in a single file, it is a very popular method for archiving purposes as well as for sending multiple files over a network and for easy downloads.

The TAR file format is common on Linux and Unix systems, but is only used to store data, not to compress it; TAR files are often compressed after creation, but these compressed files become TGZ files with TGZ, TAR.GZ, or GZ extensions.

How to open TAR files?

TAR files are a fairly common archive format that can be opened using the most popular compression/decompression software. peaZip and 7-Zip are two good free file decompression tools that not only support opening TAR files, but also creating them.

B1 Online Archiver and ezyZip are two other TAR opening tools, but they are online tools that run in a browser, not downloadable programs. Simply upload the TAR to one of these two sites and retrieve the content.

Unix systems can open TAR files without using any external programs by using the following command, where “file.tar” is the name of the TAR file.

tar -xvf file.tar

How to create a compressed TAR file?

The only thing explained above is how to open, or retrieve files from a TAR archive. If you want to create your own TAR file from a folder or file, the easiest way is to use a decompression program, such as 7-Zip.

  • Select all the files and folders that you want to put into the TAR file.
  • Right-click on the selected file and select “Add Compressed File”.
  • Select “tar” from the drop-down menu of “Compressed File Format”.
  • Select “OK”.
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If you are using a Linux system, another way to create a TAR file is to use a command line. However, if you use this command, you will also compress the TAR file and therefore create a TAR.GZ file.

This command will create the TAR.GZ file as a folder or as a single file, you can choose one of the following.

tar -czvf name-of-archive.tar.gz /path/to/folder-or-file

How to convert TAR files?

Zamzar and Online-Convert.com are two free file conversion applications, both of them are online tools that can convert TAR files to ZIP, 7Z, TAR.

Note that if you use one of these online converters, you must first upload the TAR file to one of the sites. If the file is large, it is best to use a dedicated desktop conversion tool.

All things considered, the best way to convert TAR to ISO is to use the free AnyToISO software. It can even be run using the right-click menu, so you can directly right-click on a TAR file and choose to convert it to an ISO file.

Since TAR files are a single collection of multiple files, converting TAR to ISO makes sense since the ISO format is basically the same type of file. However, ISO images are more common and more easily supported by other software than TARs, especially on Windows systems.

TAR files are just containers for other files, similar to folders. Therefore, you cannot directly convert TAR files to CSV, PDF, or other non-archival formats.

To “convert” a TAR file to these formats, you actually need to extract the files from the archived files and then convert them individually, you can use one of the file decompression software mentioned above to perform this step.

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Still can’t open a TAR file?

The simplest explanation for why your file won’t open as described above is that the file’s subfile name is not actually a .TAR. Double-check that the subfile name is correct.

For example, a TAB file is a completely unrelated format to the TAR file. They could be Typinator SetMapInfo TAB, Guitar Tablature, or Tab Separated Dat files, each of which uses a special application to open, and none of which belongs to a file decompression tool like 7-Zip.

If the file you are working with is not a Tape Archive file, the best way to find out which application to use to open or convert the file is to search for the specific subfile name online.

If you do have a TAR file and cannot open it as suggested above, it is likely that your file decompressor does not recognize the format when you double-click the file. If you are using 7-Zip, right-click on the file, select 7-Zip, and then select “Open Compressed File” or “Decompress File”.

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