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WinRAR screenshot.png
WinRAR 4.11 in Windows 7
Developer(s) Eugene Roshal (developer),
Alexander Roshal (distributor)[1]
Initial release April 22, 1995; 19 years ago (1995-04-22)
Stable release 5.11 (September 1, 2014; 53 days ago (2014-09-01)[2]) [±]
Preview release 5.20 beta 2 (October 20, 2014; 4 days ago (2014-10-20)) [±]
Development status Active
Written in C++
Operating system Windows XP and later
Size 1.83 MB
Available in 44 languages
Type File archiver
License Commercial, Proprietary, Shareware, Nagware
Website Primary:

WinRAR is a shareware file archiver and data compression utility. It can create archived files in ZIP or proprietary RAR format,[3] and unpack many archive file formats. WinRAR runs under Microsoft Windows in GUI mode. There are command-line versions, called "RAR" and "UNRAR" (released since autumn of 1993),[4] available for Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Windows console mode, and MS-DOS.


Starting with version 5, a new archive format, RAR5, is supported, incompatible with the previous one, but also using file extension .RAR.[5] With the introduction of RAR5, the older format is referred to as RAR4. Newer WinRAR versions can still open and create RAR4 archives, but older versions do not support RAR5 archives.

Both the numerous features (authenticity verification, old style extension based arcname.rNN volume names, file comments) are removed from RAR5, and by default RAR5 is slower[citation needed] than RAR4 (default dictionary size for WinRAR v5.x is 32 MB, typically resulting in higher compression ratio and lower speed than WinRAR v4.x with 4 MB).

The software is distributed as a shareware and anyone may use it during a test period of 40 days at no charge.[6]

While archiving with the RAR format is proprietary, Rarlabs supply as copyrighted freeware the source code of the UnRAR unpacker, with a license allowing it to be used in any software, thus enabling others to produce software capable of unpacking, but not creating, RAR archives.[7]


  • Multithreaded compression
  • The ability to create self-extracting and multi-volume (split) archives.[10][11]
  • Data redundancy is provided in the form of recovery records and recovery volumes, allowing reconstruction of damaged archives.
  • Support for advanced NTFS file system options
  • Unicode in file names.
  • Archive encryption using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with a 256-bit key.[12]

There was a portable version of WinRAR called WinRAR Unplugged, which did not require installation or create dependencies on the host computer.


As of July 2014, WinRAR is available in 44 languages:[13]

Arabic, Armenian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese Brazilian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian Cyrillic, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Version history[edit]

  • Command line RAR and UNRAR were first released in autumn 1993.[4]
  • Early development version WinRAR 1.54b was released in 1995 as 16-bit Windows 3.x application.
  • Version 2.00 was released on September 6, 1996.
  • Since version 3.00 (May 2002), the new RAR3 archive format is implemented. The new compressed archives cannot be managed by old versions of WinRAR.
  • Since version 3.50 (August 2005), WinRAR adds support for interface skins and themes and support Windows XP x64.[14]
  • Since version 3.60 (August 2006), WinRAR includes a multithreaded version of the compression algorithm, which improves compression speed on systems with multiple, dual-core, or Hyper-threading-enabled CPUs.
  • Since version 3.70 (circa January 2007), WinRAR features support for Windows Vista.[15]
  • Since version 3.80 (September 2008), support for ZIP archives, which contain Unicode file names in UTF-8.[16]
  • Since version 3.90 (May 2009), WinRAR adds support Windows x64 natively and support Windows 7. Also it enhanced support for multithreading.[9]
  • Version 3.91 is the last version that supports Valencian.
  • Version 3.92 is the last version that supports Serbian Cyrillic and Serbian Latin.
  • Version 4.00 (March 2011) speeds up decompression by up to 30%. Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows NT are no longer supported; the minimum Windows version required is Windows 2000.[9]
  • Since version 4.10 (January 2012) WinRAR removes all ZIP limitations now allowing unlimited number of files and archive size. WinRAR now also allows to create multivolume ZIP files. ZIP archives now include Unicode file names.[9]
  • Since version 4.20 (June 2012) Compression speed in SMP mode has been increased significantly, but this improvement was made at the expense of increased memory usage. ZIP compression now uses SMP as well. The default SMP mode cannot handle text; text compression is significantly worse unless additional switches are used. Also, Windows 2000 compatibility was removed.[9]
  • Since version 5.00 (September 2013) the new RAR5 archive format is implemented. The new compressed archives cannot be managed by old versions of WinRAR. This new format features a maximum 1 GB dictionary (only in 64-bit version), better multicore support, it removes multimedia, text and Itanium binaries special compression algorithms.[9]

Operating systems support[edit]

As with most software, the latest archive tools no longer support older operating systems. The following historical information is useful for supporting older versions of Windows (including Wine on Linux) and MS-DOS (including FreeDOS).

  • WinRAR v5.x (current version) supports Windows XP and later.
  • WinRAR v4.11 is the last version that supports Windows 2000.[17]
  • WinRAR v3.93 is the last version that supports Windows 95, 98, ME, NT.[17]
  • RAR v3.93 is the last version that supports MS-DOS and OS/2 on 32-bit CPU, such as 80386 and later. It supports long file names in a Windows DOS box (except Windows NT), and uses the RSX DPMI extender.[18]
  • RAR v2.50 is the last version that supports MS-DOS and OS/2 on 16-bit CPU, such as 8086 and 80286.[18]

Easter eggs[edit]

  • In "About WinRAR" Help menu clicking on the WinRAR logo makes the ocean surf and waves move. Mouse clicking with Shift pressed on the logo causes the appearance of a sailboat above the "R" button which is sailing around in the water.[19]
  • In the same dialog pressing the book icon causes it to jump like a ball until it rests, and with each bounce, the Windows' exclamation sound can be heard.
  • Colored comments can be added to WinRAR archives.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ WinRAR 3.40 release notes by Eugene Roshal (Russian)
  2. ^ "Latest changes in WinRAR". 
  3. ^ Manuel Masiero (18 March 2013)"Compression Performance: 7-Zip, MagicRAR, WinRAR, WinZip" Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Interview by correspondence" (in Russian). 1997-2002 (see under 1997). Retrieved 2010-04-26.  Check date values in: |date= (help) (Russian)
  5. ^ Martin Brinkmann (29 April 2013)"WinRAR 5.0 introduces the new RAR 5 format. What you need to know" Ghacks. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  6. ^ RAR and WinRAR END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT (EULA), retrieved 2014-01-04 
  7. ^ "Downloads, UnRAR for various platforms, and source. License says "The source code of UnRAR utility is freeware"
  8. ^ "Best Archive Tool -". 2005-09-05. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Latest changes in WinRAR (release notes for all versions)". New versions added as released. Retrieved 2014-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Jaymar Cabebe (15 June 2012)"WinRAR (32-bit). CNET Editors' Review" CNET. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  11. ^ Jaymar Cabebe (15 June 2012)"WinRAR (64-bit). CNET Editors' Review" CNET. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  12. ^ "WinRAR 5 Final Released" Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Winrar download and support". 
  14. ^ "WinRAR download and support. WinRAR is a powerful Windows tool to compress and decompress zip, rar and many other formats: Knowledge Base". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  15. ^ "WinRAR download and support. WinRAR is a powerful Windows tool to compress and decompress zip, rar and many other formats: WinRAR 3.70 beta 1 Released". 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  16. ^ "WinRAR archiver, a powerful tool to process RAR and ZIP files". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  17. ^ a b WinRAR Release History; RARsoft.
  18. ^ a b FreeDOS general questions.
  19. ^ Roshan Karkera (5 January 2013)"Hidden Easter Egg in WinRAR Application" Techie inspire. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  20. ^ RAR1_51.EXE has 'packed color comments' visible in WinRAR.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Data Compression". 2007. doi:10.1007/978-1-84628-603-2. ISBN 978-1-84628-602-5.  edit
  • Fellows, G. (2010). "WinRAR temporary folder artefacts". Digital Investigation 7: 9–8. doi:10.1016/j.diin.2009.12.001.  edit
  • Yeo, G. S. -W.; Phan, R. C. -W. (2006). "On the security of the WinRAR encryption feature". International Journal of Information Security 5 (2): 115. doi:10.1007/s10207-006-0086-3.  edit
  • Metz, Cade (2004-11-16). "File Compression Beyond ZIP". PC Magazine 23 (20): p52–52. ISSN 0888-8507. 
  • Qin, J. C.; Bai, Z. Y. (2011). "Design of new format for mass data compression". The Journal of China Universities of Posts and Telecommunications 18: 121. doi:10.1016/S1005-8885(10)60037-4.  edit
  • Spanbauer, Scott (December 2000). "Forget Napster-Usenet Is Where the Files Are". PC World 18 (12): p254. ISSN 0737-8939. 
  • Allen, Danny (February 2007). "Compression Apps Do More Than Shrink Files". PC World 25 (2): p64–64. ISSN 0737-8939. 
  • Sanjuàs-Cuxart, J.; Barlet-Ros, P.; Solé-Pareta, J. (2011). "Measurement Based Analysis of One-Click File Hosting Services". Journal of Network and Systems Management 20 (2): 276. doi:10.1007/s10922-011-9202-4.  edit
  • Jovanova, B.; Preda, M.; Preteux, F. O. (2009). "MPEG-4 Part 25: A graphics compression framework for XML-based scene graph formats". Signal Processing: Image Communication 24: 101. doi:10.1016/j.image.2008.10.011.  edit
  • Barr, K. C.; Asanović, K. (2006). "Energy-aware lossless data compression". ACM Transactions on Computer Systems 24 (3): 250. doi:10.1145/1151690.1151692.  edit

External links[edit]