ZIP archives have multiple uses, including providing an easy way to group, compress, encrypt, and password-protect files. What’s more, the file extension is used across multiple operating systems. Unfortunately, because it’s so common, users rarely pay attention to safekeeping until things go awry. Among common occurrences are disappearance, corruption, virus infection, changed/lost password, and incomplete compression of ZIP files. Hardware failure and system errors aren’t too far behind, either. Thankfully, each problem has a likely solution we’ll delve into as we demonstrate how to restore a ZIP file. Let’s begin.
1. Restore a missing ZIP file
The following are potential ways to restore a ZIP file that disappeared:
1. Obtain the original file
Whether the ZIP file is missing or inaccessible, you can try to get the original file back. Start by checking the Recycle Bin as we suggested in method 1 recovering a deleted folder in Windows 10. On Mac, open the Trash icon in the dock. If that fails, consider downloading the ZIP file from the Internet. Alternatively, search your computer or device’s internal or external storage, and that of any mobile devices and other computers the file might be on.
2. Make sure it isn’t hidden
Are you sure the file is there, but the search comes up empty? The file might be hidden, whether by you, another individual, or malware. In any case, you can follow the steps listed under the headline “Verify that the folder isn’t hidden” in the Windows 10 folder recovery guide above. On Mac, you can press Command + Shift + . (dot/full stop) inside a folder the ZIP file used to be in.
3. From File History (Windows 10 only)
We also demonstrated how File History works when looking into the recovery of Windows 10 folders. Simply refer to the steps listed under the headline “Restore folders from File History”. Like we pointed out, System Restore is powerless in this case.
4. From an offline or online backup
We covered this method while teaching you to recover .bak files. Refer to a method named “Recover .bak files with built-in utilities” and don’t close the tab. If you didn’t create an offline backup or it doesn’t contain the archive file, let us ask you this. Have you used any of the popular cloud storage services such as iCloud, iDrive, Dropbox, or OneDrive? Is there a chance the ZIP file was manually or automatically uploaded to one or multiple such services? A quick check can save you plenty of time and effort.
5. Using data recovery software
We told you not to close the tab because of the instructions under the headline “Recover .bak files using data recovery software”. Disregard the last sentence. If the ZIP archive disappeared from a mobile device, follow method 4 in our “recover Snapchat photos” article. Look through all files instead of the Gallery/Photos/Pictures categories only.
2. Restore inaccessible ZIP file
These are methods of restoring a ZIP file that won’t open and extract:
1. Repair the ZIP file
This method can be used before or after the one below. With that said, here are 2 ways to restore ZIP files by repairing:
1. Via Command Prompt (Windows only)
This requires you to have WinZip installed. Do this to repair corrupted ZIP files using Command Prompt:
- Launch Command Prompt like this:
- Windows 7, 8, Vista, and XP: Launch Start. Go to All Programs > Accessories > Right-click on “Command Prompt” > Click on Run as administrator.
- Windows 10 and 8.1: Open Start, search for “comm” and click on Run as administrator under “Command Prompt”.
- Use the cd command to switch to the folder your ZIP file is in.
- Execute the repair tool by pasting this command:
“C:\Program Files\WinZip\wzzip” -yf zip-file.zip
- Note. We assume WinZip is installed in the default location. Change your data path if yours is different. Also, change zip-file.zip with the actual name of your ZIP file.
- Press Enter and wait for the process to finish.
2. Using third party software
Follow these instructions to repair files with a .zip extension:
WinRAR (Windows only)
Although not available on Mac (at least not with a GUI) many Windows users have WinRAR already installed. Therefore, it’s convenient for them to follow these steps:
- Open WinRAR and navigate to the invalid or corrupted ZIP file.
- Click on Tools in the menu bar, then Repair archive. Alternatively, press Alt + R right away.
- Click on Browse, select the output location, and click on OK.
- After the repair finishes, click on Close.
- Navigate to the repaired file within WinZip.
- Click on Extract to.. in the top toolbar.
- Choose the Destination path, and make sure to put a checkmark in front of Keep broken files.
- Click on OK, and see if you successfully recovered files inside a ZIP archive.
Zip2Fix (Windows and Mac)
If you’re a Mac user or don’t have WinRAR installed on Windows, do the following:
- Download, install and run Zip2Fix.
- Note. It’s a lightweight, dedicated, free software with a proven track record. More importantly, it’s available for both operating systems.
- Click on Open.. in the top left corner.
- Select the ZIP file that won’t open and click on Open.
- Zip2Fix will create a fixed duplicate of the original ZIP file.
- Note. Check the logs to see which of the files inside were problematic.
2. Use antivirus software
Malware and ransomware can hold ZIP files hostage by preventing the user from opening or extracting them. To combat that, use the guidelines we suggested in method 2 of retrieving .lnk files. If the malicious process infiltrated the ZIP file itself, your antivirus software might delete or quarantine the file. In that case, check our “recovery of files deleted by antivirus” guide.
3. Unlock the ZIP file
Another reason you can’t access your ZIP file can be its password protection. Therefore, if you fail to find the password to your ZIP file in regular ways, you must brute-force your way in. Luckily, there are plenty of tools that can help you with cracking password-protected ZIP files. Some free tools include John the Ripper, hashcat, Zydra, and fcrackzip, and NSIS. Note that we can’t vouch nor are affiliated with any of them.