What are RAR files and what can you do with them?

RAR files, like zip files, are compressed or uncompressed archive files that can contain files and folders. Here we explain how you can get started.

You could think of a RAR file as a regular folder as it can also contain files and folders just like regular folders. But to open a RAR file you need special software like WinRAR.


You will especially encounter RAR files when you want to download files from the Internet. RAR files are smaller than zip files - even though they have the same content - because RAR's compression ratio is much higher than ZIP's.

In addition, RAR makes it easier to split large files into smaller archive files, which can simplify downloading.

Suppose you have a 5 GB file that you want to send through a site like WeTransfer that has a data limit of 2 GB per transfer, then you can split the file into three RAR files and send them in three separate transfers. When unpacking, the three parts are reassembled as if nothing happened. This is also possible with zip files, but it is much more cumbersome.

Archive files are also useful if you want to send several files at the same time, such as your holiday photos. In an archive file, they are all neatly organized in a single downloadable file, so the recipient doesn't have to download the photos one by one. It is also possible to create RAR files that are not compressed and only serve to keep files together.


If a RAR archive gets corrupted (even when the data is physically damaged), the archive can often be repaired because RAR uses recovery data.

Also, RAR uses AES-128 encryption and you can give an archive a password so that it can only be extracted when the correct password is entered.

Open and create RAR files

RAR is the native format of RARlab's WinRAR program. Windows and macOS do not have a built-in function to open RAR files, while this function for zip files does exist. WinRAR for Windows and RAR for OS X and Linux are not free, but there are free alternatives that allow you to open RAR files, such as 7-Zip for Windows and The Unarchiver for OS X. Chrome OS has native support for opening RAR files. RAR files.

However, RAR files can only be created with software that has been given explicit permission to use the compression algorithm by the developer of the RAR file format, Eugene Roshal. WinRAR and RAR from RARlab are therefore best suited for this purpose. You can try these programs for free for 30 days.

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