What Is a RAR File Archive and How Do You Open One?

There are many types of file archives. One of the most common types you’ll bump into while downloading large files on the internet is RAR.

But do you know what a RAR file archive is? Let’s look at RAR file archives, typical use cases, and how to open a RAR file on different operating systems.

What Is a RAR File Archive?

RAR is a file archive format that uses the RAR compression algorithm. The name RAR is short for Roshal ARchive, named after Russian software engineer Eugene Roshal, the creator of the compression algorithm. The format launched in the 1990s and was first introduced with the debut of the infamous WinRAR.

Despite that, you can open RAR file archives using various programs thanks to the widespread nature of the format. Typically, a RAR file archive can contain one or more files. Commonly, you’ll tell a RAR file from other formats by its “.RAR” file extension. However, recovery RAR files have a unique REV extension.

RAR files are commonly used to make data transfers easier. For example, a RAR file archive can be transferred as one single file or split into multiple files for easy transmission. Another everyday use is data storage, as it helps save on storage space due to its high compression ratio.

There are other applications, including file encryption, since the format allows you to password-protect your files. For example, you can use the format to password-protect your Windows folders.

How to Open a RAR File

To view contents in a RAR file, you’ll first need to open the archive. Many tools are available for opening RAR files on macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and even iOS.

1. WinZip

WinZip is one of the best tools for opening RAR files. It’s available across different platforms and is easy to get up to speed with. The only catch is the tool doesn’t come for free. However, you can give it a try by using the free trial offered.

Download: Winzip for Windows | Mac | Android | iOS | ($29.95, Free trial available)

2. WinRAR

WinRAR is a popular option for opening RAR files on Windows but is also available on Android, Mac, and Linux (only via the command line on Linux and Mac). It supports various versions of Windows, including Windows 11. Besides opening RAR files, it supports other popular compression formats like ZIP, TAR, GZip, ISO, and 7-Zip. Like WinZip, WinRAR is not free but has a 40-day free trial. After that, you can buy it for $29.

Download: WinRAR ($29, Free trial available)

3. PeaZip

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PeaZip is another excellent option specifically for Linux users. It’s free and supports RAR, ZIP, and TAR files, among dozens of other file formats. Plus, PeaZip is available on macOS and Windows if you want a free alternative to WinZip or WinRAR.

Download: PeaZip for Windows | Linux | Mac (Free)

Transfer and Store Large Files Using RAR Archives

Due to its high compression ratio, using RAR makes it easy to store and transfer large files over the internet. The format also allows encryption for the security of your data. Plus, RAR files are easy to open and create using one of the tools listed above.

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