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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 WinRAR 5.21 16 February 2015; 42 days ago (2015-02-16)
Preview release 5.21 beta 2 (January 31, 2015; 58 days ago (2015-01-31)) [±]
Development status Active
Written in C++
Operating system Windows XP and later
Size less than 2 MB
Available in 44 languages
Type File archiver
License Commercial, Proprietary, Shareware, Nagware
Website Primary:

WinRAR is a shareware file archiver and compressor utility for Windows. It can create archives in RAR or ZIP file formats,[2] and unpack numerous archive file formats. There is an Android app called "RAR for Android",[3] and command-line versions called "RAR" and "UNRAR" (widely released since autumn of 1993),[4] available for Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Windows console mode, and MS-DOS.


WinRAR and the RAR file format has evolved over time. Starting with WinRAR version 5, support for a new archive format RAR5 was added, incompatible with the previous one, but also using the same RAR file extension.[5] With the introduction of RAR5, the older RAR file format is now referred to as RAR4. WinRAR version 5 can read or write RAR4 or RAR5 archives, but older WinRAR doesn't support RAR5 archives.[6]

The new RAR5 file format added numerous features, but removed comments for each file (though archive comment still remains), authenticity verification, and compression algorithms for specialized text and multimedia. RAR5 also changed the file name for split volumes from "archivename.rNN" to "archivename.partNN.rar".[6]

The RAR5 file format increased the maximum dictionary size to 1 GB, thus allowing a WinRAR user to choose between 11 different compression directory sizes from 1 MB to 1GB. The default directory size in WinRAR version 5 was increased from 4 MB to 32 MB typically resulting in higher compression ratio, though the user can change the default setting back to 4 MB.[6]

RAR5 also enhanced or added optional features: optional AES encryption was increased from 128-bit to 256-bit, option for 256-bit BLAKE2 file hashing algorithm (instead of default 32-bit CRC32), optional duplicate file detection, optional NTFS hard and symbolic links, optional Quick Open Record to allow large archives to be opened faster, maximum path length for files in RAR and ZIP archives is increased up to 2048 characters.[6]


When creating RAR archive files:

  • Support for maximum file size of 16 EB (264 bytes) minus 1.
  • Choice of compression directory size from 1 MB to 1 GB (256 MB limit on 32-bit Windows). Default size is 32 MB.[6]
  • Optional 256-bit BLAKE2 file hash in addition to default 32-bit CRC32 file checksum.[6]
  • Optional encryption using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with a 256-bit key.[8]
  • Optional data redundancy is provided in the form of Reed-Solomon recovery records and recovery volumes, allowing reconstruction of damaged archives.
  • Optional "Quick Open Record" to open RAR files faster.[6]
  • Ability to create multi-volume (split) archives [9][10]
  • Ability to create self-extracting files.
  • Support for advanced NTFS file system options, such as NTFS hard and symbolic links.[6]
  • Support for maximum path length for files up to 2048 characters (stored in UTF-8 format).[6]
  • Optional archive comment (stored in UTF-8 format).[6]


The software is distributed as a shareware and anyone may use it during a test period of 40 days at no charge.[11]

Although 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.[12]


As of February 2015, WinRAR is available in 44 languages:[13] Albanian, 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, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Vietnamese.



  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[6]

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. ^ Manuel Masiero (18 March 2013)"Compression Performance: 7-Zip, MagicRAR, WinRAR, WinZip" Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  3. ^ RAR for Android; RARsoft.
  4. ^ a b Voloshin, Kirill (2011-03-10). Интервью по переписке [Interview by correspondence] (in Russian). Retrieved 2014-10-27. 
  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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Latest changes in WinRAR (release notes for all versions) [up to Version 5.20 beta 2]". Retrieved 2014-10-27. 
  7. ^ "Best Archive Tool -". 2005-09-05. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  8. ^ "WinRAR 5 Final Released" Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  9. ^ Jaymar Cabebe (15 June 2012)"WinRAR (32-bit). CNET Editors' Review" CNET. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  10. ^ Jaymar Cabebe (15 June 2012)"WinRAR (64-bit). CNET Editors' Review" CNET. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  11. ^ RAR and WinRAR END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT (EULA), retrieved 2014-01-04 
  12. ^ "Downloads, UnRAR for various platforms, and source. License says "The source code of UnRAR utility is freeware"
  13. ^
  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]