RAR files are generated by the program WinRAR archiver. They are a database of files or a single file that is stored in a compressed (smaller/ reduced) format. Because of this data compression to reduce file size, files downloaded from the Internet that have the extension.rar will have to be “unpacked” or “unzipped” before they can be used. To open RAR files you will need a program such as WinRAR (or other such archiving software).
Download WinRAR from their website
- To do this, visit rarlab.com and click their section for downloads.
- Click download and choose the option to save the file to your computer.
- Allow the download to complete (this may take a few minutes with a slower connection)
- Select the option to open the rar file once the download is complete.
- A dialogue box will come up asking you to accept the terms and conditions. Check the appropriate box and click next.
- Winrar will now be installed on your computer.
Unzipping the .rar file
- Double click the .rar file to open it (the file should automatically be associated with WinRAR one it has been downloaded) WinRAR will open.
- Click the button labeled “Extract To” and enter the location you want to place the file (desktop, my documents, my music, or another folder that has been created)
- Click “OK”
- If there are multiple rar files to be extracted, ensure that all of them are in the same place and begin extracting at the very first one. They are usually labelled in sequence with the first having 00 or 01 in the file name.
Tips and warnings
- WinRAR is considered one of the better archivers available on the market. It has the ability to unpack files (RAR, ZIP, CAB, ARJ, LZH, ACE, TAR, GZip, UUE, ISO, BZIP2, Z, 7-Zip formats), as well as create files in both the .RAR and .ZIP formats. Some users may find that it is slower than other archivers. The reason for this is that WinRAR creates a much smaller file size because it allows for greater file compression.
- There are a range of settings and features to get used to with WinRAR but these will not usually factor in unless you are creating a .RAR file.
- Other archivers that can be used to unzip .rar files include the following
- 7-Zip – has a high compression ratio and supports 7z, ZIP, RAR, CAB, ARJ, CPIO, RPM, DEB, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, and Z formats.
- Tug zip – this award winning software supports ZIP, 7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, BH, BZ2, CAB, CPIO, DEB, GCA, GZ, IMP, JAR, LHA (LZH), LIB, RAR, RPM, SQX, TAR, TGZ, TBZ, TAZ, YZ1 and ZOO archives.
- All of these will include the same basic functionality and the steps to unzip rar files will be very similar when using them.