Article by Janis Elsts
These files are produced by file archiving software, the most common example being WinRar. Like most common archive formats, RAR employs lossless compression. This means that when you extract a file from the archive it will be exactly the same as it was before archiving. There also exist lossy file formats that discard some of the information in a file to compress it more efficiently. Most multimedia files (MP3, AVI and so on) that you’re likely to encounter are already compressed using lossy compression, so compressing them with RAR won’t produce a significantly smaller file.
Initially file archiving was used mainly to decrease the amount of disk space necessary to store a file. However, with large hard disks becoming more available and cheaper, compressed files are now rarely used for this purpose. Instead,.rar archives are now widely used when putting files online. There are several reasons for this :
* Compressed files lead to smaller download size and faster downloads. The RAR file format offers better compression than ZIP files, so the.rar archives are often smaller than.zip.
* One can put several files in one RAR archive, so the user only has to download a single.rar file.
* Multi-volume archives allow you to split a huge file (like a video) in smaller chunks that can be downloaded separately.
* Password protection – since anything you put online is typically accessible by anyone, the built-in password protection feature is needed to give a certain level of control over who can open the downloaded file.
Aside from downloadable files, the RAR file format is also used for backups, though this use isn’t as widespread.
As I mentioned before, the most common software for handling.rar files is WinRar. WinRar is shareware, but there are numerous free RAR extractors available that can open RAR files. Note that since the.rar file format is proprietary, none of the freeware alternatives can actually create RAR archives. Nevertheless, I still recommend you get a RAR extractor, because you’re going to encounter the.rar file extension sooner or later if you download files often.
RAR files come in handy when you want to transfer large amounts of information across the internet. Since uploading a large file may take up to a couple of hours, it is highly useful to just convert these files into RAR archive and send them. RAR files are compressed forms of the actual files.
Compression not only reduces the amount of bandwidth occupied during transfer, it also makes the transfer faster and much more efficient. RAR archives also come in handy when you have less space on your computer. You can compress the files that do not use and free some space on your disk. RAR usually compresses information very efficiently, much more efficiently than any other algorithms used to compress files on the computer or on the internet.
Since the compression is very precise and accurate, the time taken for the job is slightly more. However, this time factor is nominal in front of the quality of compression that RAR files provide. RAR files are highly advanced and provide many customization and protection options. You can create multiple volume archives using RAR. You can also password protect your archive in case you want complete privacy from external users. RAR archives also allow you to perform solid compression.
There are various applications that are capable of opening RAR files. These applications include WinRAR, 7 Zip, IZArc, PeaZip, Zipeg, and ALZip. You can even send folders through the internet using RAR. You simply have to compress the folder and put it into the RAR file. Then you can upload the folder within seconds and send it to anyone through the internet. This is highly useful in case of transfer of presentations and programs as well. In fact, you can transfer ant kind of files you want to by compressing them into RAR format.
RAR files not always have file extension RAR. Sometimes they can be stored under different extension (for example TMP). To check whether file is actual RAR archive you have to check if it has Rar word at the very beginning of the file (when it is opened in binary mode).