We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a RAR File?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A RAR (.rar) file is a proprietary compressed container file, similar to a ZIP (.zip) file. It was created by Eugene Roshal, hence the name Roshal ARchive. Roshal also helped develop programs to utilize the format, including the popular, WinRAR™. While the ZIP format predates this format, the latter has advantages over ZIP compression.

Software creates RARs by adding one or more files to a container, giving the archive the extension, .rar. Like zipped archives, files can be stored in this state but cannot be used until they are extracted or decompressed. Software like WinRAR extracts the files to a folder of choice. While this may sound no different than zipped files, the format has some significant advantages.

Using software, one can break up very large files into “bite size” multi-part volumes, named automatically in sequential order. For example, .r01, .r02, .r03 and so on. Newer versions of WinRAR use part01.rar, part02.rar, part03.rar. Breaking the file into small parts makes it easier to send across a network. Once received, the user double-clicks the first volume in the archive (e.g. .r01 or part01.rar), and an installed program will extract the contents, recombining all volumes into the original, single file with its original extension.

In addition to its ability to handle large files, the RAR format has other advantages over the ZIP format. Among these, the files compress more efficiently, resulting in smaller file sizes than zipped files, (though it takes slightly longer to compress and decompress these files). RAR files also incorporate redundancy or a "recovery record" stored within the archive, making it possible to repair a container that has been corrupted. Newer versions of the format also support Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and multi-threading.

While WinRAR shareware is probably the best known program, the ability to handle these files has been licensed to many software developers. Current versions of Windows operating systems incorporate native support for ZIP files only, leading many users to use dedicated third-party compression programs for the extra features they provide and the ability to handle all types of files. One popular, free and open source compression utility is 7-zip, which handles RAR, ZIP, CAB, TAR and DEB formats among others.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon20814 — On Nov 07, 2008

Another great tool for opening RAR files is BitZipper: unrar guide.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.