PC Doctor April 3, 2015

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Dear PC Doctor,

One of my doctors gave me some medical information in a computer file that another one of my doctors needs.  The second doctor says she can't open it because it is something called a "7 zip file." If she can't open it, I may have to have some medical tests re-done and I don't want to do that.  What is a 7 zip file?  What can I do to make it something that we can open and look at?




Dear Marc,

I had to look this one up!

If the file is a 7 zip file that means it has been compressed.  People usually compress files to make them easier to store or send.  When you compress a file, you are actually making it take up less storage space.  Compressed files have different letters after the period in the file name.  For example, a Microsoft Publisher file usually has pub after the period.  A compressed file will have a file extension after the period that lets you know it's compressed.  Common compressed file extensions include .ZIP, .SITX, .7Z, .RAR, and .GZ.  There are a lot more.  If yours is a 7 zip file, it probably ends with .7z.

In order to look at it or use it, you need to extract it.  There are many, many programs you can use to extract or decompress your files.  Given that the one you have is a 7 zip, you will want to use the 7 zip utility program.  Fortunately, it is free.  Go to your favorite search engine and type in "7 zip utility program." You will want to download the program from a source you trust.  It's worth asking at your local computer repair shop which is a safe website.  Once you download the utility, follow the directions for installation and unzipping files. 

Until next time… Happy computing!

         PC Doctor