(briefly referred as SFX files) are computer executable programs
both an (usually compressed) archive of files and the routines needed
to extract the content (SFX module), usually packed as Microsoft
Windows EXE executable file.
WinRar, WinZip, 7-Zip, PeaZip, and other file archiver software are
capable of creating self extracting archives, usually employing 7Z, RAR
and ZIP compression for the archival part - learn more: what is a compressed archive file -
and minimal sfx modules
suitable for basic tasks of deployment of content as autonomous
packages, not needing external dedicated decompression software
and capable of
While an auto-extracting archive is potentially a simple, basic form of
installer, most software for creation of installation packages extends
the idea further providing
formats capable of advanced scripting features to generate more complex
autoextraction modules to unpack the content and perform other related
operations, suc as conditional extraction of appropriate data,
automatic output path detection, registration of shared files,
interaction with registry etc.
SFX archives: advantages and disadvantages
Principle behind self extracting archives is providing the end user of
the appropriate extraction
executable instructions without the need of installing any software,
which brings those advantages over non self extracting archives:
- content and extraction tools are passed as atomic
- in order to extract the content, end user needs to
run only a simple subset of instructions, through a minimal user
interface requiring little or no feedback, rather than having to
install and learn to operate a full general purpose archive manager
Drawbacks of self extracting archives are:
- being the
extraction module embedded in the archive itself, it represents an
overhead (usually some 10s or 100s of KB), which makes it a noticeable
the case of small archives
- the sfx archive can be executed only on operating
system platforms capable to run the sfx module - it can still be
operated as a standard archive on other platforms, if suitable software
- being the self extracting archive an
executable file, some file sharing platforms - cloud service
providers, e-mail servers - may consider it a security risk and block
the file, preventing it to reach the intended end users.
In PeaZip, creation of
archive can be selected directly in archive format dropdown menu,
simply selecting "Self-extracting 7Z" or "Self-extracting ARC".
Recipient not need a suitable unarchiver to open those files (while
some archive managers, as PeaZip) can open sfx files as standard
archives for custom content extraction without running the sfx module.
Please note, anyway, recipient will at least need the right to execute
binary files (the sfx module) on the target system to proceed with
(auto)extraction of the SFX archive.
Custom sfx modules
with different sets of features and user interaction
interfaces are available in PeaZip add-ons section Custom SFX
External online resources: Self-extracting
Topics and serach suggestions: how to create and manage a self
work with sfx
auto-extraction of compressed files, auto extracting container, sfx
compression overhead, autonomously self extracting rar package, self
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export job definition as script.