WinRAR has been around in one form or another since 1993, and its core purpose has always been to take large amounts of data, before compressing it into a manageable archive. In recent years, file compression utilities have managed to remain extremely useful – in spite of faster data connections or larger storage media.
It is available in both ‘Free’ and ‘Paid For’ versions, and the former product still offers a high level of functionality. Users are given 40 days to fully test the software, and this trial period is one of the most generous in the marketplace. It has been adapted into 32 bit and 64 bit versions, making it compatible with the majority of current computers.
Although many operating systems already include some kind of basic archiving utility, there are many features in WinRAR that will complement any PC setup – it combines a variety of features without being difficult to use. It has a recommended retail price of around $40, and there are future maintenance and upgrade features for a small additional fee. The vendor can also provide the software on a CD, and this can be selected during the checkout process. This editorial will look deeper into the software, as well as its various features.
The main selling point of WinRAR is that it offers file archiving in a number of different formats. As opposed to only providing functionality for ZIP archives, it also offers RAR, CAB, ARJ, LZH, ACE, TAR, GZip, UUE, ISO, BZIP2, Z and 7-Zip support. It uses an efficient method for compressing files, and the final archive can be cut into sections for convenient storage. For example, a 6Gb archive can be divided into three pieces if there are three 2Gb USB flash drives available. Another useful feature is the ISO support, as this allows the user to locate individual files within a disc image without the need to burn the whole image to a disc.
If security is critical with a file archive, a password can be added for secure access – the 128 bit encryption also adds an extra layer of protection. Multimedia files can be difficult to compress down to a smaller size (videos and music have often been compressed already), and WinRAR automatically chooses the most efficient file compression method for such data. If the user wants fast access to a file within an archive, it can also be opened directly within the WinRAR interface.
As well as being able to use the built-in file archive programmes with most operating systems, there are also a number of competing software packages available. WinZIP is well-known in this area, but it only offers a decent level of support for Windows PCs – WinRAR can be used on a wide range of systems. Apple Mac users will also appreciate a better level of compatibility. For popular types of files, such as Microsoft Word documents, WinRAR’s compression methods also create a smaller archive than WinZIP.
In terms of flexibility, WinRAR offers the ability to define the exact size of archive sections when splitting a larger archive – other similar software solutions do not have this capability. Other alternatives such as Bitser and File Roller are free of charge to download and install, but they do not offer the same range of customisable options, features and file formats. Free archiving products can be found from a variety of developers and publishers, but many of them have been rarely updated within the last ten years or so. When investing in WinRAR, the majority of customers will realise that they will never need to purchase another file archiving solution.
Overall, the only possible reason for not choosing WinRAR would be the issue of cost. It isn’t the cheapest solution available for file archiving and compression, but it does offer great value for money when looking at the list of compatible file formats and product features. The extended free trial period is a great opportunity to get a real feel for the software and the support and after sales service is generally very good. WinRAR benefits from having a proprietary archive file format (RAR), and the user feels like the software has been built around the capabilities of Roshal’s creation.
When purchasing a license, the customer does not feel like they are under pressure to upgrade to the next version of the software – WinRAR is a product that is constantly evolving to fix issues and deliver improvements. When looking at the user opinions on download.com, the best recommendation is that from a collection of almost 2,000 reviews, the average rating is 4/5 stars. It is their highest-ranked item in the ‘File Compression’ category, and almost 150 million users have obtained WinRAR from this site alone.
When considering the benefits that have been mentioned in this editorial, it is no surprise that WinRAR has managed to achieve this level of popularity.
About win.rar GmbH
The software was originally designed and compiled by Eugene Roshal, a Russian software engineer with an impressive track record. He is also credited with creating the actual RAR file format, which offers various data correction possibilities alongside file compression and archiving. In terms of organisation, Roshal created a numbering system that helps to keep separate archive volumes organised - they are named as 'r01', 'r02' and so on. When this process is carried out within WinRAR, the software can use this file format to locate each section in the correct order, which in turn speeds up archive rebuilding. Under the RARLAB name, the publisher also offers support to users, and assistance is given in both English and German. The developers maintain a regular schedule of updates and upgrades, with a number of beta versions being offered before every eventual launch. By keeping up this flow of updates, RARLAB developers are able to keep up with new file format issues and bug fixes. They also publish a regular newsletter for their loyal users, and they operate global sales partnerships for their most enthusiastic users. Official agents have the chance to make an income from distributing WinRAR on a commercial basis.
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