A type of file that contains other files that have been compressed (typically through a ZIP program) for more efficient transfer of the data. The self-extracting file contains within it the program software needed to "unzip" the file and execute the intended application. The end user, therefore, does not need any special software to execute the file. Simply executing the file (which typically involves saving the files on a computer��s hard drive) will unzip the data and run the application.
Self-extracting files, which typically end with the .EXE file extension, are commonly used to transfer large data files efficiently. For example, a software upgrade will often come in the form of a self-extracting file that a user can download from the Internet or detach from an e-mail and execute. Self-extracting files typically can be deleted once they have been executed.