An archive is an accumulation of historical records or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization. Professional archivists and historians generally understand archives to be records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative or social activities. They have been metaphorically defined as "the secretions of an organism", and are distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.
In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.
Archive files are particularly useful in that they store file system data and metadata within the contents of a particular file, and thus can be stored on systems or sent over channels that do not support the file system in question, only file contents – examples include sending a directory structure over email.
Beyond archival purposes, archive files are frequently used for packaging software for distribution, as software contents are often naturally spread across several files; the archive is then known as a package. While the archival file format is the same, there are additional conventions about contents, such as requiring a manifest file, and the resulting format is known as a package format. Examples include deb for Debian, JAR for Java, and APK for Android.
Finally, on July 14th, Guccifer 2.0 sent WikiLeaks an encrypted attachment that, according to the indictment, contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. Four days later, WikiLeaks confirmed that it had accessed the archive and claimed that it would release the material that week ......