ZArchive is yet another file archive format. Think of zip, tar, 7z, etc. but with the requirement of allowing random-access reads and supporting compression.

Features / Specifications

  • Supports random-access reads within stored files
  • Uses zstd compression (64KiB blocks)
  • Scales reasonably well up to multiple terabytes with millions of files
  • The theoretical size limit per-file is 2^48-1 (256 Terabyte)
  • The encoding for paths within the archive is Windows-1252 (case-insensitive)
  • Contains a SHA256 hash of the whole archive for integrity checks
  • Endian-independent. The format always uses big-endian internally
  • Stateless file and directory iterator handles which don’t require memory allocation

Example – Basic read file

#include "zarchive/zarchivereader.h"

int main()
	ZArchiveReader* reader = ZArchiveReader::OpenFromFile("archive.zar");
	if (!reader)
	 	return -1;
	ZArchiveNodeHandle fileHandle = reader->LookUp("myfolder/example.bin");
	if (reader->IsFile(fileHandle))
		uint8_t buffer[1000];
		uint64_t n = reader->ReadFromFile(fileHandle, 0, 1000, buffer);
		// buffer now contains the first n (up to 1000) bytes of example.bin
	delete reader;
	return 0;

For a more detailed example see main.cpp


  • Not designed for adding, removing or modifying files after the archive has been created

No-seek creation

When creating new archives only byte append operations are used. No file seeking is necessary. This makes it possible to create archives on storage which is write-once. It also simplifies streaming ZArchive creation over network.

UTF8 paths

UTF8 for file and folder paths is theoretically supported as paths are just binary blobs. But the case-insensitive comparison only applies to latin letters (a-z).

Wii U specifics

Originally this format was created to store Wii U games dumps. These use the file extension .wua (Wii U Archive) but are otherwise regular ZArchive files. To allow multiple Wii U titles to be stored inside a single archive, each title must be placed in a subfolder following the naming scheme: 16-digit titleId followed by _v and then the version as decimal. For example: 0005000e10102000_v32


The ZArchive library is licensed under MIT No Attribution, with the exception of sha_256.c and sha_256.h which are public domain, see: https://github.com/amosnier/sha-2.


View Github