ZIP and RAR files are used every day. We use them when we send a large file over email or want to upload a large piece of file on the internet or a movie we download from Rapidshare. All these use either one of the two. But do we really know what they are?
Basically both are used for data compression. Data compression is the process of reducing the original file size by encoding the file with fewer bits. Data compression helps in saving invaluable disk space. The Zip standard was developed by Katz in the year 1986 and was placed in the public domain and other companies created zip utilities. WinZip is the ZIP utility for Microsoft windows, while MacZip is made for Apple computers. A RAR file (.rar) is a proprietary compressing utility similar to Zip file created by Russian, Eugene Roshal. The name RAR is derived from the term Roshal ARchive.
ZIP format predates RAR and thus many utilities are available to zip and unzip the files. Windows, Mac and Linux versions have inbuilt programs to create and open zip files. On the other hand, .rar files require a third party program, which can be downloaded, to create and open .rar files.
RAR software creates a compressed file with a ‘.rar’ extension. Like a zip archive files are stored intact but cannot be used directly, it has to be extracted to use its content. Software like WinRar can be used to extract the files to any folder in your computer.
Advantages of RAR:
Even though Zip predates RAR and has many applications able to work with it, RAR format has a lot of advantages.
- A RAR format can compress a file much better than a Zip. Meaning, a same sized file compressed in RAR format produces a slightly smaller size file compared to zip.
- Using a RAR software one can break up a large file into more manageable size for sending it over a network. Once compressed files are named automatically as part01.rar, part02.rar, part03.rar, part04.rar and so on. To use the file, just double click part01.rar and the entire file is extracted with its original extension. (Make sure you have all the broken parts before you do this).
- RAR files also incorporate redundancy or a ‘recovery record’ stored within the archive, making it possible to repair a RAR that has been corrupted.
- Newer versions of the format support advanced encryption methods.
Most popular open source software available is WinRar, which can used to compress and extract RAR files.
Difference between ZIP and RAR
- Zip was developed by Katz in 1986 whereas RAR war created by Eugene Roshal from Russia.
- Zip format was developed much before RAR.
- Windows, Mac and some Linux applications comes with a native ability to handle zip formats, whereas RAR formats require third party software to handle it.
- RAR can compress files better than Zip.
- Both have the ability to password protect the files.
- While it is possible to break up a large file into smaller bits using RAR software, it is not possible in a Zip.