Roshal Archive Compressed file or more popularly known as RAR is a file compression technology that can store and compress data files and even folders. While ZIP continues to be the most commonly used technology for file compression and sharing, RAR has also find many uses among the computer users. A lot of software developers use RAR to compress their software before uploading it on the internet. Many times, RAR offers tighter compression than its ZIP counterpart.
Windows and other operating systems do not have native ability to open the RAR file. When you try to open the RAR file without any default opener attached to it, you will receive an error message and the OS will ask you which application you would like to open it with. When you choose the ‘Open With’ option and there is no installed program on your computer which can actually open it, it will ask you to install one.
So, what are your options?
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RAR compressed files can be opened using various tools. These tools are especially designed to extract the compressed files. WinZip, undeniably, is one of the most popular applications used for compressing and decompressing the files. But, it is not a free app. You will need to buy the program before you could use it on your computer to open RAR and other compressed files.
If you never installed WinZip before on your computer, you can install it the first time and get a free 30 days trial. You can use WinZip as the default program to open all the RAR files. You can get WinZip trial at http://www.winzip.com/win/en/downwz.html (click ‘Download WinZip Now’ button). It is available on both Windows and Mac.
But, this is only a temporary solution. What if you regularly need to open these files? You will need to find something more permanent.
Thankfully, there are plenty of free tools out there and they are also safe to use. Though, we will talk about free tools a little later. For now, we will continue talking about WinZip.
If you have WinZip, this is how you can open the RAR files:
- Run WinZip from the Desktop shortcut or Start Menu
- Click File menu on the top left on the menu bar
- Click ‘Open’
- Navigate to the folder where your RAR file is saved. You can also select multiple files at a time
You can also make WinZip default program for RAR files. Here are the steps:
- Navigate to the folder where RAR is stored
- Right click the file
- Click ‘Open with’ in the right click menu
- Click ‘Choose default program’
- Select WinZip from the list. If WinZip is not in the list, click ‘Browse’ and locate the Winzip program (it is usually in Program Files in the Windows OS installation drive)
- Make sure that the option ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ is checked
- Click OK
Now you can double click any RAR file on your computer to open it with WinZip.
WinZip is a paid tool but not always. If you ever purchased WinZip license and bought with it the Software Maintenance Plan or Upgrade Assurance, you can upgrade to the latest versions as many times as you want. If you don’t have such a plan, but you have been a customer once, you can get a discount of 50% on the upgrade.
But, again, this is a long shot. Why? Because if you already have WinZip then no matter the version, you will still be able to open RAR file. Or, if you bought WinZip once, uninstalled it or reloaded your operating system, you will need to install it again. Now, since you have a license already, you could install the older version and open the RAR files.
So, to sum it all up, if you don’t have WinZip and never bought the license, you could use the 30 days trial period to open RAR files for free. If you need to keep opening RAR files beyond 30 days, and you don’t want to buy a paid program, you could use a free program, which we have discussed below.
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Use a Free Tool
As already mentioned, there are many free tools out there you can use to open RAR files. And we are not talking about trial period. These tools are free for lifetime. But, when you are looking up for such a tool, be wary of the website you are downloading it from. Install it only from the site which is trustworthy. You don’t want any malware, adware or viruses lurking on your computer.
We have tested and used 7-Zip and we have found it to be one of the most effective and safe tools to open RAR files. This tool is totally free of cost. This tool’s installer will ask for your consent if you wish to make 7-Zip a default program to open RAR and other compressed files. Make sure RAR option is checked. But, if you miss it, you can associate 7-Zip as the default program for RAR later by following the same steps we provided above for WinZip.
You can download 7-Zip from http://7-zip.org/download.html
7-Zip isn’t available for Mac computers. If you are looking for something for Mac OS you could use one of the following:
- The Unarchiver: http://unarchiver.c3.cx/unarchiver
- Keka: http://www.kekaosx.com/en/
- RAR Extractor Lite: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rar-extractor-free/id646295438?mt=12
Types of RAR files
It would be a good idea to know a little bit about the types of RAR files so that you don’t run into any difficulty while trying to open them.
RAR files could be single or multipart. For instance, if you have a large application with 2-GB size, you will want to compress it and save in parts instead of a single file. Such an arrangement makes downloading more convenient. So, a multipart RAR file may look something like MySoftware1.rar, MySoftware2.rar and so on.
RAR files could also be password protected. If you wish only certain individuals to be able to open the RAR file, you could assign a password to it. Only upon entering the password the user will be able to open it.
If you happen to encounter any such files, you will be able to open them with any RAR opener we have mentioned in this article.