Since its first release in 1995, WinRAR has been consistently working towards improving and enhancing its well known application – WinRAR.
Given numerous features, enhancement and improvements since the first release, the installer size of WinRAR has always been less than 2MB. With complete support for over 45 different languages, WinRAR has separate installers for 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems, respectively for Windows and Linux operating systems. It also supports FreeBSD and Mac OS, as well as Android operating system for mobile platforms. WinRAR officially supports Windows XP / 2003 / Vista / 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
RARLAB’s 5th version of WinRAR (version 5.0) came with a new compression format and a more secure encryption algorithm from AES-128 to AES-256. It has better compression/decompression speed compared to older RAR compression formats, and a much better recovery.
Below are some of the features cum benefits of WinRAR
**Using WinRAR puts you ahead of the crowd when it comes to compression by consistently making smaller archives than the competition, saving disk space and transmission costs.
**WinRAR provides complete support for RAR and ZIP archives and is able to unpack CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO, 7Z, XZ, Z archives.
**WinRAR offers a graphic interactive interface utilizing mouse and menus as well as the command line interface.
**WinRAR is easier to use than many other archivers with the inclusion of a special “Wizard” mode which allows instant access to the basic archiving functions through a simple question and answer procedure. This avoids confusion in the early stages of use.
**WinRAR offers you the benefit of industry strength archive encryption using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with a key of 256 bits.
**WinRAR supports files and archives up to 8,589 billion gigabytes in size. The number of archived files is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.
**WinRAR offers the ability to create self extracting and multivolume archives.
**Recovery record and recovery volumes allow to reconstruct even physically damaged archives.
WinRAR is pretty light on system resources, supports industry strength data encryption, encrypts file names and fully utilizes the multi-core CPU and hyper-threading technology- using the multithreaded version of RAR compression algorithm. Additionally, it supports all popular compression formats such as RAR, ZIP, CAB, LZH, JAR, ACE, ARJ, TAR, ISO and 7-Zip.
Once can also perform compression/decompression operations via command-line.
WinRAR allows creating split archives, either based on the pre-defined destination size or user defined size.
The compression utility in WinRAR provides following functions:
- Add or replace files
- Add or update files
- Convert archive to SFX
- Test archives
- Show archive info
- Add archive comment
The above listed functionalities are just a small sub-set of the total list of functionalities available. They are many others and it’s impossible to list them all, rest aside reviewing them.
Proceeding further, I would like to mention another great feature provided by WinRAR, SFX. An SFX (SelF-eXtracting) archive is an archive, merged with an executable module, which is used to extract files from the archive when executed. Being an executable module (aka exe) it doesn’t requires any application/software to run (for extracting the contents).
WinRAR supports creating following SFXs:
- GUI RAR and ZIP modules (Default.SFX and Zip.SFX)
- Console RAR module (WinCon.SFX)
One can also use reporting feature. The report generation differs based on the type of mode namely file management mode and archive management mode. In the file management mode, a list of files and folders from the current working folder are displayed; while, in the archive management mode, the list of archived files and folders from the currently opened archive are displayed. In short, following details are listed in a typical report:
- File checksum
- File date
- Packed size
- File size
- Total information
- Archive name
- Usual files
Below are some of the most used (but less known) features of WinRAR:
- Context menu – though on installation WinRAR already integrates with Windows shell providing several options, you may add/remove the options from WinRAR>Options>Settings>Integration>Context menu items
- Import/Export settings – WinRAR supports import/export of all the settings from WinRAR>Options> Import/Export. This is very useful primarily in two cases: one we have to reformat and two when we require having the same set of settings for a different installation/PC. The settings are imported as a .REG file. Furthermore, the new feature in version 5.2 allows creating an ini file for the settings. Read Enhanced Usability section below for details.
- Advanced SFX options – This option/feature is applicable only to Windows GUI module. It provides a very extensive set of options (some of them) such as title, logo, license info, request for administrator access, extract path, and others. In short, it allows creating your own customized installation SFX. A bonus is that once you set the options it automatically generates a script using script commands. Please note that by default, WinRAR x64 uses 32-bit versions, but you can select 64-bit modules explicitly in SFX options: Module dialog. Resulting 64-bit SFX archive will then work only in Windows x64.
- Compression method – WinRAR currently supports six compression methods, namely: “Store”, “Fastest”, “Fast”, “Normal”, “Good” and “Best”. The “Best” method provides highest, but slowest compression, “Fastest” compresses least, but is very fast, and “Store” adds files to archive with maximum possible speed, but without any compression.
- Backup option – WinRAR not only functions primarily as a compression tool, but also has an inbuilt backup utility. It can be used to do full as well as incremental/daily backups. Specifically I would like to mention two very useful backup options: one for keeping old file versions and other for creating masked archive names.
Continuing the legacy of achieving high compatibility, up-to-dateness, stability and liability of WinRAR, the recent update for RARLAB’s 5th version of WinRAR (version 5.20) comes with “Enhanced Usability” and “Enhanced Compatibility”. Moving further let me discuss on these new changes in version 5.20, before I visit the features of WinRAR.
WinRAR has always been user friendly and the same reflects from the known interface that has been almost the same for the past two decades. Below are the noteworthy changes specific to enhanced usability:
- A new feature introduced to store WinRAR settings to an ini file, instead of saving the same in Windows Registry. This feature would now enable users to install and run WinRAR from removable media sources such as a USB drive, as well as run WinRAR from a different machine all together.
- A new Windows context menu for “Open with WinRAR” is added now. It is enabled by default during installation. If required, one can disable it from WinRAR menu “Options->Settings->Integration->Context menu items…”.
- To further ease the way one can create an archive, now one can simply drag files in Explorer with a right mouse button, drop them to the destination folder, and select WinRAR archiving commands in context menu to create an archive with these files in the destination folder.
- Adaptability for Windows User Account Control (UAC) has improved in the new version. Now in case UAC should prevent extracting or archiving files in system protected folders, WinRAR will immediately start another copy with administrator privileges to complete the requisite operation. Although it will be necessary for the user to confirm privileges elevation in response to UAC prompt to allow second instance of WinRAR to run.
- The file overwrite prompt (for duplicate files) in console RAR, now displays the size and modification time for both existing and new files. This makes it easier for the user to retain or replace the files, without having to manually go, open and check the size and/or modification time.
- A new “Toggle all” button in “Settings/Integration” dialog is provided to deselect archive formats if they are already selected. The “Toggle all” button replaces the older “Select all” button.
This enhancement is to support extraction for ZIP and ZIPX archives. This is made feasible by adding support for XZ compression algorithm. With this new algorithm, WinRAR now becomes even more flexible in supporting many archiving formats as and when needed by a user.
Detailed list of changes brought in version 5.20 can be accessed via the link below:
The tiny WinRAR software does great wonders in handling multiple archive files using the sophisticated compression algorithm. It does provide us better compression than similar tools of its category and has kept a good pace in bringing out new features and better product altogether all these years.
One can download OS, language and architecture specific installer using the link below:
A useful tip for all Windows-64-bit users: It is highly recommended to install the WinRAR 64-bit version. It is faster and offers the best available integration. WinRAR’s compression speed in Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and on any multi-core-system has been increased considerably.
WinRAR provides free support for all licensed users.
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