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Self-Extracting (PKSFX) Archives

Though less common a situation than it once was, occasionally you'll send a ZIP archive to someone whose computer cannot open the file. When that happens, you can send a self-extracting PKSFX archive instead: it has a .exe file name extension (instead of .zip, for instance), and it can be extracted just by executing it, even by someone who does not have Smartcrypt or another ZIP utility. (PKSFX archives are also called SFX files, for short.)

Create a PKSFX archive in exactly the same way that you create an ordinary archive. The only difference is that, when you are done adding files, you save the archive as a PKSFX .exe file instead of as a ZIP file or other archive type.

You can set options for PKSFX files just as you can for compressing or extracting. Set options on the PKSFX page of Compression options. The options you set on this page apply to any new PKSFX files that you create. (A PKSFX file that you create as a copy of an existing PKSFX file gets its options from the original file, not from the settings on the PKSFX page. See here for information.)

Note: When you encrypt files for an SFX archive with FIPS 140 mode turned on in Security options, Smartcrypt allows you to choose only FIPS-validated algorithms for the encryption. When the archive is run to extract, its files are decrypted in FIPS 140 mode as well.

Maximum Size of PKSFX Files

Practically speaking, the maximum size of a PKSFX file is 2 GB. This is the largest size executable that Windows and most other operating systems can load. If you create an unsplit PKSFX file larger than 2 GB, you probably will not be able to run it.

You can, however, run a split PKSFX file, consisting of multiple segments, if each segment is no larger than 2 GB.

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