When trying to open a compressed ZIP or RAR archive, a lot of users receive an error message "the archive is either in unknown format or damaged". What causes the error? How to fix it. Now, this article from MiniTool Partition Wizard tells you the answer.

According to the user reports, “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error often occurs when they try to open or download a zipped or a RAR file. Windows File Explorer can’t open the zip files and the WinRAR says the file is damaged.

Here is a user report from the Tomshardware forum:

I tried downloading a world for terraria with curseforge and mediafire. Both options turned into a WinRAR file and when I try and open them they say “the archive is either unknown format or damaged”. Please tell me how to fix this. I’ve tried using 3rd party zip such as 7zip and none have worked so far.https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/winrar-archive-the-archive-is-either-unknown-format-or-damaged.3737084/

Why the Archive Is Either in Unknown Format or Damaged?

Before solving the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error, it’s important to figure out what causes the problem. After analyzing extensive user reports, we find this error message may appear in the following several scenarios:

  • The WinRAR software is faulty or too old.
  • The network is unstable when downloading the archive, resulting in file errors.
  • Disk corruption leads to file corruption.
  • The file is too old.
  • An error occurs while compressing the file.
  • The archive extension is corrupted.
  • The folder where unpacked files are not allowed.

Now, you should have known the possible reasons behind the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” issue. Please try the following the archive is either in unknown format or damaged solutions to fix it.

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How to Fix the Archive Is Either in Unknown Format or Damaged Error?

There are 8 applicable solutions to the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error. You can try them in order until the error gets fixed.

Solution 1: Re-download the Zipped or RAR Archive File

The issue with “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged RAR” may be the result of an incomplete file download. Then, you need to download the compressed or RAR archive again.

After that, you can check if the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error disappears. If not, the file may indeed be in a corrupt state. Well, you can refer to the next solution.

Solution 2: Fix Disk Errors

Sometimes, disk corruption may lead to file corruption. So, to fix the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error, you should fix the disk errors. Here are two options for this error. You can try one of them.

Option 1: Use CHKDSK Utility

You can use the CHKDSK utility to investigate and repair bad sectors in the hard disk to fix this error.

Step 1: Press the Win + S key and type cmd.exe in the search box.

Step 2: When the Command Prompt appears, right click on it and select Run as administrator.

Step 3: In the Command Prompt window, type the chkdsk c: /f /r /x command. Then press Enter to execute.

type the command

Step 4: After execution, restart the computer and check if the error is resolved.

Option 2: Use MiniTool Partition Wizard

If the above method fails to solve this issue, you can use a professional disk management tool to check hard disk problems. It is recommended that you try MiniTool Partition Wizard. How to use MiniTool Partition Wizard to check hard disk problems? The steps are as follows.

You can use the Check File System and Surface Test feature of MiniTool Partition Wizard to solve the archive is either in unknown format or damaged Windows 10 error. Besides, this tool can be used to Move/Resize partitions, Extend Partitions, Wipe Disk, and upgrade to larger disks without data loss, etc.

Free Download

Step 1: Click on the download button to get MiniTool Partition Wizard. Then launch MiniTool Partition Wizard to get the main interface.

Step 2: Select the partition on the hard disk and select Check File System on the left action panel.

click Check File System

Step 3: You will see two options in the new window: Check only and Check & fix detected errors. Select the Check & fix detected errors option. After that, click on the Start button. Immediately after clicking Start, MiniTool Partition Wizard will check and repair the file system.

select Check & fix detected errors

To check for bad sectors on a hard drive, you can use the Surface Test feature of MiniTool Partition Wizard, but this tool can’t repair the bad sectors.

Step 1: Select the partition on the hard drive and select Surface Test on the left operation panel.

Step 2: In the pop-up window, click on the Start Now button to check bad sectors for Windows 10.

click on the Start Now button

After that, MiniTool Partition Wizard will show you the result of the testing. Green block means no bad sector; red block means some bad sectors. If there are too many bad sectors on the hard drive, you need to replace the disk.

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Solution 3: Use the Repair Archive in WinRAR

WinRAR supports users to use the Repair archive feature to repair damaged zip files. It will scan corrupt data files for errors and fix them automatically for us. The recovery time depends on the size of the data. To fix “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged RAR”, you can refer to the following steps:

Step 1: Open WinRAR on your computer and find the corrupted zip file in the address bar of the client.

Step 2: Select the corrupted zip file and click on the Repair icon. Alternatively, double click on the corrupt RAR file to open it, then click on Tools on the menu bar and select the Repair archive option.

Step 3: The application will ask you where you want to save the file on your computer. Select your desired location and click on the OK button.

click on the Repair icon

Step 4: The file editing process will begin and may take some time, which depends on the size of the file.

Step 5: Click on the Close button to close the window, and then go to the folder containing the edited archive. It will be named rebuilt.filename.rar or rebuilt.filename.zip.

After that, try extracting the RAR file and see if your computer still has the error "the archive is either in unknown format or damaged".

Solution 4: Open the Archive File Using 7-Zip

Trying another software to open the archive file such as the 7-Zip may fix the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error. You can go to this link to download the 7-Zip archive file software on your PC. Then click on Download based on whether your Windows OS is 64-bit or 32-bit.

download 7-Zip based on your Windows version

Solution 5: Move the Corrupted Archive to Another Folder

If you unzip the file in an unauthorized directory, such as the AppData folder of the C drive, the unzip application may not be able to read and execute it. So, move the file to your desktop or other hard drive and extract it to fix the archive is either in unknown or damaged error.

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Solution 6: Use Windows Default Decompressor

Windows 10 comes with a compression and decompression function, but it is only effective for compressed files in ZIP format.  To solve the archive is either in unknown format or damaged Windows 10, you can use this tool.

Step 1: Right click on the compressed (zipped) folder.

Step 2: Choose Extract All from the context menu.

Step 3: By default, the compressed file will be decompressed in the same location as the compressed folder

Solution 7: Scan the Zipped Folder for Virus

If you get the zip file/folder from unofficial or other unknown websites, the file/folder may contain a virus or malware, causing “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error. So, we recommend you perform a virus scan.

Step 1. Type virus in the search box and double click on the Virus & threat protection result.

Step 2. Inside the Windows Defender Security Centre, click on Run a new advanced scan.

Step 3. Select Custom scan from the list of scan options and click on the Scan now button.

select Custom scan in Windows Security

Step 4. In the pop-up File Explorer window, select the affected zip folder and click on Select Folder. Then you will go back to the Windows Security screen automatically, click on Scan now again to start scanning the zip folder for the virus.

If any virus or malware is detected, you need to re-download the zip file/folder from a trusted source.

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Solution 8: Update to the Latest Version of WinRAR

The " the archive is either in unknown format or damaged " error can also be caused by the fact that you are using an old version of WinRAR. To avoid this, you should regularly check WinRAR and update it to the latest version.

This post offers you the top 8 solutions to the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error. I’d like to share them with you. These solutions are easy to operate. You can try it.Click to Tweet

Bottom Line

Now we have reached the end of this article. The above content is all about the reasons for the “the archive is either in unknown format or damaged” error and solutions to the problem.

After trying so many solutions, we believe that you may have successfully solved your problem. If you have any suggestions or need any help when you use MiniTool Wizard Partition, you can send us an email at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

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