WinRAR-Logo.png
Official download link:http://www.rarlab.com/
download.htm
Developer(s)Eugene Roshal, Alexander Roshal
Product category:File Compression
Operating systemFreeBSD, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows Xp, Vista, 7 (32/64 bit versions)
Supported file types (File extensions):RAR, ZIP, WinZip, CAB, ARJ, LZH, ACE, TAR, GZip, UUE, ISO, BZIP2, Z and 7Z
Software page on Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/WinRAR
Developer's page on Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/WinRAR

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Detailed Functions and Features

WinRAR is the originator of the RAR archive, and the good thing is, its compression ratio is 8% to 15% better than the ZIP format. It means that it saves more space than the ZIP archive. This may be the main reason why so many users and professionals love this application, and you'll save an extra storage to save data compressed with this tool. WinRAR includes the ability to create self-extracting files, split archives into multiple volumes and repair damaged files. One of my favorites is that WinRAR features the ability to convert archives from ZIP to RAR and vice versa. WinRAR also integrates virus scanning so you don't have to worry about saving virus-infested files; it automatically displays a message once it detects a virus. Even with many great features, there are still drawbacks such as slower compression and decompression that make its competitors excel in the speed category. WinRAR's main format is RAR, and it can also compress ZIP format. It has support for a large number of unpacking formats such as TAR, ACE BZ2, ISO, CAB, 7Z and ZIP. If you are a novice user, you can use the Wizard to guide you to the rest of the operation.

WinRAR - Using Wizard
Using Wizard

Exploring through different directories is much easier with its folder tree panel. You can conveniently browse your computer with the Windows-Explorer like function at the left pane and its contents displayed at the right pane. To activate the Folder-tree pane, go to Options Menu > Folder Tree.

Folder tree shown at the isn't it in the left pane?
Folder tree shown at the isn't it in the left pane?

Like many other file compression tools, it will be easy for you to pack or unpack files using the Windows Explorer because it has full support on it and you can access any of its function using the right-click. I really like the convenience it serves that you can pack and unpack an archive using the Windows Explorer. Moreover, security means everything in every archive so the ability to set password for each file is also available.

Using Windows Explorer
Using Windows Explorer

Another favorite is that its ability to compress and email in the Windows Explorer options. It will be easier for you to send compressed files using this feature, but this feature is not present in within the application. Some unique features are the ability automatically detect the type of files you compress and adjust the compression ratio. WinRAR will also help you organize your compressed archives.

Options > Settings Menu
Options > Settings Menu

For advance users or if you have much time to explore its options, you can also set the which files WinRAR is associated with, defaults paths, comments and more using the settings menu in the main application and it also gives the user a considerable amount of control over the compression rate. Although you can see the ratio between your compressed files by choosing Show Information in the Tools Menu, it was just a little more convenient if you could normalize the bar to display after each file is compressed.

Extracting Window
Extracting Window

Pros

  • WinRAR supports all popular compression formats (RAR, ZIP, WinZip, CAB, ARJ, LZH, ACE, TAR, GZip, UUE, ISO, BZIP2, Z and 7-Zip).
  • Automatically recognizes and selects the best compression method.
  • Splits archives into separate volumes, making it possible to save them on several disks, or to send a large file in several parts.
  • WinRAR is ideal if you are sending data via the web through its compress and email feature.
  • 128 bit password encryption and authenticated signature technology to make it safe and secure.
  • Easy to install and to use. You can then learn about it's more advanced features at your leisure.
  • Supports multiple language

Cons

  • Slower compression/decompression

Comparison to Major Competitors

In the test, I used 10 mp3 files using Winzip, WinRAR and 7-Zip. The findings are the following:
  • WinRAR has saved 15% more size than Winzip and 7Zip using its flagship file RAR format
  • However, it is 20% much slower packing and unpacking files than WinZIP but 15% much faster than 7Zip.

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

No wonder WinRAR has taken over the compression software category against Winzip and 7Z mainly because of its very professional and powerful features, yet simple and lightweight. In fact it only used 4MB of memory compared to Winzip's 6MB consumption. More importantly, it has a bag full of advantages over its competitors with lesser price tag of just $21 compared to WinZip's $29. There is also a trial version available and even if the trial period ended, you can still continue using it despite its annoying registration window reminder that displays everytime you open WinRAR. Moreover, new functionality updates of WinRAR and RAR are available for free downloading several times each year.

Installing WinRAR

  1. Download the Installer from www.rarlab.com and open the file. This window should be the first to display. Then click install button.


  2. After clicking the install button, the install progress will display as shown.


    Don't worry you don't have to do anything, and wait till this window appears. Then click Ok button to continue.


  3. Lastly, this window appears and you’re done! That’s how simple installing WinRAR!

Use one of the following applications to open RAR files:

  1. DownloadWinRAR (32-bit)

    License: Trial (40-day trial);
    Operating system: FreeBSD, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows Xp, Vista, 7 (32/64 bit versions)

  2. Info7-Zip
  3. InfoWinZip
  4. InfoWinRAR (64-bit)
  5. InfoFree RAR Extract Frog