What are ARC files and how to open them
Are you having problems opening an ARC file or are you simply curious about its contents? We're here to explain the properties of these files and provide you with software that can open or handle your ARC files.
What is an ARC file?
ARC files have multiple uses, and ARC compressed archive is one of them. Read more about the other uses further down the page.
ARC compressed archive
Files that contain the .arc file extension are compressed archive files. An archive file is a batch of files combined into a single file for easier distribution. Compressing the files means they have been reduced in size to save storage space and bandwidth. You will need a "decompressor" tool to access the contents of these files.
The ARC format was invented by System Enhancement Associates (SEA) in the 80s, and you needed their tool, also named "arc", to compress and decompress ARC files.
It is one of the very first predecessors of archive formats like ZIP files. Today, the original ARC format is no longer used, but a range of modern software tools can still decompress these older archive files.
How to open ARC files
We have identified two ARC openers that are compatible with this specific type of ARC file.
Programs that open ARC compressed archive files
Last updated: December 22, 2023
All known file formats using extension .ARC
While ARC compressed archive is a popular type of ARC-file, we know of 7 different uses of the .ARC file extension. Different software may use files with the same extension for different types of data.
FreeArc compressed archive
Some .ARC files are compressed archive files created with FreeArc. An archive file is a set of files bundled into a single file for easier distribution on the internet, and compressing (reducing the size of the file) is done to save bandwidth.
FreeArc was a compression tool that used different compression algorithms depending on each file type in the archive. One algorithm was used to e.g., compress sound files, and other algorithms were used to compress executable files.
Benchmarking showed that FreeArc was able to beat popular programs like WinZip, 7-Zip, and WinRAR regarding compression efficiency. However, the development of FreeArc seems to have stopped, and the official website is no longer online.
While we have not verified the apps ourselves yet, our users have suggested ten different ARC openers which you will find listed below.
Internet Archive ARC File Format
Internet Archive, a website preservation service, has its own archive file format using file extension ARC. They use it to store copies of web pages downloaded from the internet.
It uses standard GZIP compression, but stores the files in an interesting way: Instead of compressing a batch of pages into a single compressed archive file, they compress each file with GZIP and concatenate them into a single ARC file. In that way, their tools can search for a specific file inside the ARC file and decompress only that, instead of having to decompress the entire file first. The format is GZIP compatible so that you can treat it as a normal .gz file.
Nintendo Yaz0 Compressed Data
Nintendo ARC files are game data files in their proprietary "Yaz0" format. The Nintendo ARC format is used to compress (reduce in size) game data like 3D models and texture file, to make it possible to fit more data onto a single media like a CD or DVD. They are also commonly seen use the .szs file extension.
ARC opener for Windows
We have identified one ARC opener that is compatible with this specific type of ARC file.
ArcMac Compressed Archive
We know that one ARC format is ArcMac Compressed Archive. We have not yet analyzed in detail what these files contain and what they are used for. We're working on it.
We know that one ARC format is EZBIND Archive. We have not yet analyzed in detail what these files contain and what they are used for. We're working on it.
Xexor Amstrad disk image
.ARC files created with the Amstrad Xexor disk utility contains a copy of an Amstrad diskette. Amstrad created popular home computers in the 80s, and if you are interested in these legacy computer systems, you may come across these .arc files if you want to play old Amstrad games in an emulator.
You usually do not need to edit or view these files, as they only contain information usable by the software program that uses them.
Various apps that use files with this extension
These apps are known to open certain types of ARC files. Remember, different programs may use ARC files for different purposes, so you may need to try out a few of them to be able to open your specific file.
Help us help others
File.org helps thousands of users every day, and we would love to hear from you if you have additional information about ARC file formats, example files, or compatible programs. Please use the links below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.