What Is “The Archive Is Either in an Unknown Format or Damaged” Error?

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Picture this – you have just visited your favorite site where you downloaded the latest music or software in the form of a zip or RAR archive. Because a friend recommended the file to you, you are confident that it will also work on your computer. However, the minute you try to open the file, you get a message that the file either has an unknown format or is damaged. You freak out because there’s no way that a file that’s working for others is invalid. Yes, this can make you feel frustrated, but the best thing that you can do is to relax and understand the reason behind the error message.

The “Archive Is Either In An Unknown Format or Damaged” Error

Archiving tools are beneficial when managing large files. They compress the files, enabling you to handle them in a batch instead of individually.

These tools are very useful when it comes to downloading, transferring, and backing up many files in little space. Even better, they archive files in less time. Unfortunately, the archived files, like other files, are prone to some problems. Sometimes, a user may download a zipped or RAR file. Along the way, they encounter the message “the archive is either in an unknown format or damaged“.

If you’ve encountered this problem, then this article is for you. We have put together everything you need to know about this error. We have also listed several PC repair tips and tricks that can help you find a solution to this problem.

Causes of “The Archive Is Either In An Unknown Format or Damaged” Error

There are many reasons why you may come across “the archive is either in an unknown format or damaged” error message. As long as you can identify why the error is showing, it will be easier for you to identify the method to use to solve the problem.

File corruption is the primary reason users encounter this error. Other causes of file corruption are:

  • Incomplete archive download
  • Transfer errors
  • Driver updates
  • Serious virus infection
  • Damages on the physical drive
  • Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) errors

Now that we have identified the potential culprits for this error, we can now dive into how to fix it.

How to Fix “The Archive Is Either In An Unknown Format or Damaged” Error

If you encounter the Windows error message “the archive is either in an unknown format or damaged,” here are some recommended solutions that you should try:

  • Download the zipped or RAR archive file again.
  • Run an anti-malware scan, for example Anti-Malware
  • Repair the zipped or RAR archive file.

You may try these suggestions in the order we have presented or choose the one you think best fits your situation.

Download the Archive File Again

If the downloaded archive files were corrupted or the download didn’t complete successfully, it’s highly likely that you’ll encounter the error. You can confirm archive file corruption when you attempt to open the archive file and encounter difficulties.

In this case, you can solve the problem by re-downloading the zipped or RAR archive file. Don’t forget to save the file to a different location. Once you have completed the download successfully, check whether the issue has been resolved or not. If you still encounter the same error message when you try to open the file, try the next suggestions.

Run an Anti-malware Scan

You may also receive the “the archive is either in an unknown format or damaged” message if the zipped or RAR archive file that you are trying to open has been compromised by malware entities. You can solve this issue by running a system scan using a reputable security tool. If the problem persists, proceed to the next suggestion.

Note that you are advised against disabling the anti-malware tool when you download the file. This puts you in more problems than it solves.

Repair the Archive File

The zipped or RAR archive files have a very definitive structure, and this puts them at a high risk of potential corruption. Because of this nature, a minor case of distortion and the extraction tools may not be able to extract its contents. Generally, the extraction tools have to check the files’ integrity before the files can be opened.

If the tools find out that the original archive files don’t match the extracted ones, they fail. When this happens, you need to find a reliable repair tool and use it to restore the files. The restoration will help you recover the files contained in the archive files.

Repair Tools

A powerful repair tool can significantly help you recover your valuable data if you encounter this error message. A tool like PC repair tool operates easily, safely, and without causing further damage to your files.

A PC repair tool plays a vital role in the process as it ensures that the original files remain intact, and you don’t risk losing your important files. It will also fix your archive files in no time and get rid of strange error messages that you may be facing when trying to open a zip file.


Zipped and RAR files are susceptible to damage during download or transfer between devices. Any interruption in either of these processes can cause the file not to be recognized as a valid archive during extraction. The good news is that once you have identified the cause of the error, you may apply different solutions to solve it.

When it comes to computers, error codes and messages are a common occurrence. It’s not surprising why many users have gotten used to dealing with whatever problems that are thrown at them by looking at Google for the solutions. We hope that this piece came in handy for you. In case you keep encountering the same error even after trying the suggestions given, you should seek professional advice about it.

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