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Uncompressing tar.gz files (Windows) #0148
Updated: 3/21/99 OS/platforms(s): Windows only Versions: N/A

Contributor/author(s): Wren Weburg

The DEM files downloaded from the USGS site are compressed in a format that is somewhat difficult to understand. Essentially, the DEM files reside in a .tar archive file, which is then compressed into a .gz file. Neither file type is really standard on the Windows platform--at least not like the popular zip file format. Fortunately, if you have WinZip (version 6.3 or later; possibly older versions), you can extract the files for use. This article explains the process in detail.

Before proceeding, you must have WinZip 6.3 or later installed on your computer. WinZip can be downloaded from www.winzip.com. This procedure uses WinZip 6.3. Newer versions should work about the same, but older versions are not guaranteed to work.

  1. Download the tar.gz file and save it to disk in a place you'll remember. For this example, we'll be downloading a compressed DEM file called
  2. Now open Windows Explorer and locate the file. (Note: all periods in the filename may have been replaced with an underscore. This is fine. For example, our example file was renamed to 30_1_1_926240_tar.gz automatically.) Once found, open the downloaded file. The file should load with WinZip if WinZip is installed properly. If the file does not open with WinZip, launch WinZip manually, then locate the file, and then open it.
  3. WinZip should ask you to enter the full name of the file within the archive. All you have to do here is ensure the extension of the filename in the dialog box ends with a ".tar". You can either add the .tar to the filename if it doesn't already exist. Or, if the file ends with the text "_tar", you can replace the "_tar" with ".tar". For example, 30_1_1_926240_tar would be renamed to 30_1_1_926240.tar. Renaming it to 30_1_1_926240_tar.tar would also work. Then click OK.
  4. WinZip should tell you the archive contains one file and will ask you if you want to open it. Say yes.
  5. Now WinZip displays a list of files. You can now extract the file(s) you need from the archive.

Note: SC3000.COM does not provide additional support for WinZip. If you need help with WinZip or have questions about it, please visit the WinZip Web site at www.winzip.com.

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Last updated: 3/21/99

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