There are tons of different file types out there. But what are RAR files and what are they good for? Click here to learn the answer!
Did you know there are at least 1,500 different file extensions out there? Some are very common, and you probably encounter them on an almost daily basis. Others aren’t used as often, so they may leave you scratching your head when you do see them.
One of the less common extensions these days is the RAR file. What are RAR files, and how can you work with them? This guide has the answers you’re looking for.
What Are RAR Files?
The most basic RAR file definition is that it’s the native format of the program WinRAR. Eugene Roshal developed the program in the 1990s. RAR actually stands for “Roshal Archive.”
That should give you a clue about what RAR files are. They’re compressed archive files, much like ZIP files. Usually, they’re created by the WinRAR software, but there are other programs that can work with a RAR file.
What’s the difference between a ZIP and a RAR file?
RAR uses a proprietary algorithm. This formula uses a higher compression ratio than ZIP files. That means RAR files can handle much larger files than the ZIP formula.
Although.RAR is the most common extension, you may also see files with extensions from .R00 to .R99. These are also RAR files. They show the different parts of a multi-archive volume.
Reasons to Use RAR Files
WinRAR was developed back when internet connections were a lot slower. File transfers took a lot longer. Compressing files made them smaller and easier to send to other users.
That’s still true today. RAR files compress large files to make them easier to send. Those files have gotten a lot bigger in the last 30 years.
The average email program can send and receive attachments that are 10MB. That would have taken ages to send in the 1990s.
Still, files like music, videos, and photos can be quite large, so it’s often useful to compress them. Even if you’re not sending through email, a compressed file is smaller and faster to send.
The other use for RAR files is to create archives of multiple documents. Suppose you want to send your grandparents pictures of your graduation. Instead of attaching them all separately or uploading them one by one, you can compress them and upload a single RAR file.
The benefits of RAR files when it comes to file transfer can’t be overstated. You’ll spend less time uploading and attaching. Everyone else will spend less time downloading and organizing the files.
Using RAR for Storage
The higher compression ratio also means you can work with larger files. RAR files can also create multi-archive files, also known as spanned archives. These files split across several RAR files and connect with one another.
They can be particularly useful in sending very large files. RAR files are also used for storage and backup.
You can create a compressed version of your computer, then back it up to a separate drive or the cloud. If you’re paying for storage, then making the file as small as possible means you’ll be able to buy less space.
How to Open RAR Files
RAR files benefits might be obvious, but these files are only good so long as you can open them! If your co-worker sent you a RAR file and you had no idea what it was, you might be wondering if you can even open it.
To open a RAR file, you’ll need an archive utility that can decompress the format. The most common software for this is WinRAR itself. WinRAR comes with a trial period, after which you’ll need to pay for it.
WinRAR can also create ZIP files, and it can unpack many different archive types.
The free and open-source software 7-Zip also uses the RAR algorithm. That means you can use this program to open RAR files. If you’re on a budget, then 7-ZIP is a good option.
What about if you’re working on a Mac? Since the RAR algorithm is proprietary, Mac’s default Archive Utility can’t help you here.
To make things worse, the WinRAR program isn’t available for Mac users. There’s only a Windows-based version available. Even 7-ZIP doesn’t work on Mac.
Don’t panic yet. You still have plenty of options to open RAR files on Mac. There are free apps, as well as paid ones, available to help you handle almost any file type on Mac.
How to Convert to RAR
What if you don’t want to open a RAR file, but you want to make one instead? Photographers might want to archive their camera RAW files. Maybe you have lots of HD videos you want to put into an archive.
RAR is a great choice to create archives like these.
Your best bet to convert to RAR files is using WinRAR itself. Some other archive utilities are only able to unpack the format. There are a few that can create RAR files, but WinRAR still does the best job.
What about Mac users? Again, you’ll need to turn to third-party software. There are a few options out there, so do some research and test out a couple of different options.
There are also some free online tools you can use to convert files to RAR. You should only use file converters you trust, especially if you’ll need to download the converted file. An untrustworthy website could let malware or other harmful files ride in on your download.
Archiving Your Content Made Easy
You asked, “What are RAR files?” and now you have the answers. This type of archive file isn’t as common as ZIP, but it could be just what you need. Create an archive of your website, video content library, or even a backup for your business with a RAR file.
Looking for more info about software and how it can help you get the most out of your files? Check out more in our archives and stay on top of all the latest trends.