How to Zip / Unzip files or folders using PowerShell?

Now it is easy to ZIP or extract (unzip) the files or folders using PowerShell. PowerShell has added features of the Archive module (Microsoft.PowerShell.Archive) from PowerShell 5.1 version.

If you have PowerShell older version (version 4.0 or less) then you can download and install the module from the website or through the command line. However, only download and installing or manually copying the Archive module to the Module folder won’t work because it needs some dependent DLL files which are provided by .Net framework 4.5 so you need to consider upgrading .Net framework as well if it is below the 4.5 version.

Once you have the appropriate PowerShell version and .Net framework version, and if you have installed the Archive module or if it is default installed, check the commands are supported for the archive module as shown below.

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Get-Command -Module *Archive* |ft -AutoSize
CommandType Name                            Version Source
----------- ----                            ------- ------
Function Compress-Archive     Microsoft.PowerShell.Archive
Function Expand-Archive       Microsoft.PowerShell.Archive

So there are two commands included in this module. Compress-Archive command is to compress files and folders and to Expand-Archive to extract zipped data.

Compress-Archive command to compress the files and folders.

Before starting the examples of the Compress-Archive command, we will see the cmdlet syntax first.

   -LiteralPath <String[]>
   [-DestinationPath] <String>
   [-CompressionLevel <String>]

Here, the main parameters are Source files / folders, destination path, compression level, force, and update.

Compression Level

There are three types of compression level.

  • Fastest − Uses the fastest compression to reduce the processing time. It can lead to a larger file size.
  • Optimal − Normal compression level. Processing time depends on the size of the file. This is the default compression level if you don’t use compression parameter.
  • NoCompression − Doesn’t compress the source files. This means the size of the actual folders and files are the same after the zipped only there is no compression ratio.


When specified this parameter, it will overwrite the files and folders.


This parameter updates the files from the source to the destination which are newer or updated instead of zipping the entire content again.


1. To compress a single folder.

Compress-Archive C:\temp\* -DestinationPath c:\ -CompressionLevel

The above command will compress the folder C:\temp the destination path C:\ with the ZIP name and with the compression level Fastest.

If you try to zip the folders with the same destination name which already exists then it will pop an error.

PS E:\scripts\Powershell> Compress-Archive C:\temp\* -DestinationPath
c:\ -CompressionLevel Fastest
Compress-Archive : The archive file C:\ already exists. Use the -
Update parameter to update the existing
archive file or use the -Force parameter to overwrite the existing archive
At line:1 char:1
+ Compress-Archive C:\temp\* -DestinationPath c:\ -CompressionL ...
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : InvalidArgument: (C:\ [Compress-
Archive], IOException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : ArchiveFileExists,Compress-Archive

To overwrite the destination file, you need to use the –Force parameter.

Compress-Archive C:\temp\* -DestinationPath c:\ -CompressionLevel
Fastest -Force

If you want to update any file inside the temp folder and if you need to update the destination zip then you need to use –Update parameter. When you use Update the parameter you don’t need to use the -Force parameter because –Update parameter will also overwrite destination files along with updating the files and even if the destination file doesn’t exist, it will create a new file.

Compress-Archive C:\temp\* -DestinationPath c:\ -CompressionLevel
Fastest -Update

2. Zip multiple files and folders.

Multiple Files at different locations −

$compress = @{
   Path = "C:\temp\ComputerInformation.csv","D:\cars.xml"
   DestinationPath = "C:\"
   CompressionLevel = "Fastest"
Compress-Archive @compress -Verbose

Multiple Folders at different locations −

$compress = @{
   Path = "C:\temp\*","C:\Dell\*"
   DestinationPath = "C:\"
   CompressionLevel = "Fastest"
Compress-Archive @compress -Force -Verbose

Expand-Archive command.

Expand-Archive command is useful for extracting the ZIP files. This command is a simple comparatively Compress-Archive command as it needs only Source and the destination ZIP files.

In the below example, we are going to extract file to the destination location.

Expand-Archive C:\ -DestinationPath C:\Unzipedfolder -Verbose

Here, the Destination folder UnzipedFolder at the destination path doesn’t exist but the cmdlet will create the folder automatically if doesn’t exist. If the folder already exists then you need to use the – Force parameter to overwrite the files and folders.

Expand-Archive C:\ -DestinationPath C:\Unzipedfolder –Force