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WinRAR 4.2 Review

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PROS / WinRAR offers a full array of quality features and is easy to use.

CONS / This ZIP program lacks many supported compression formats. You can zip files only to RAR and ZIP formats.

 VERDICT / WinRAR is well-established file compression software with a popular and proprietary compression format. It offers ample features and supports several extraction formats.

Editor's note: A newer version of this product is available. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version of this product when we next update the File Compression Software Software reviews.

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WinRAR file compression software offers a full list of quality ZIP features and supports a host of extraction formats. You can compress files into only two archive formats, RAR and ZIP, but those are widely used.

  1. The number of compression formats supported by the software.
    Higher is better.
  2. 6 WinRAR
  3. 13
  4. 11
  5. 12
  6. Category Average

The first WinRAR version, with the proprietary RAR format, was released in 1993. The format is a chief rival of the ever-present ZIP format. Though you can only compress files into the two formats, this ZIP software lets you unzip 14 different formats.

WinRAR includes the ability to create self-extracting files, split archives into multiple volumes and repair damaged files. WinRAR also can scan your archives for viruses before you extract the files.

This application's most user-friendly aspects are the drag-and-drop feature and the Archive Wizard. WinRAR automatically detects the type of files you are compressing and adjusts the compression rate accordingly.

WinRAR uses a traditional display involving menu trees that lets you go to your archive folder and drag the files or folder into WinRAR.

Even though WinRAR compresses only two archive types, it can extract a number of different archives. This ZIP software supports the extraction of 14 archive formats. In addition to RAR and ZIP, these include CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO, 7Z and Z archives. WinRAR scores high in our extraction format category.

WinRAR provides basic help and support options, including a comprehensive in-application manual, online FAQs and a knowledgebase. If you can't find what you're looking for after that, you can contact WinRAR by email. There is no user forum for this file compression software. It has no telephone support or live chat either.


WinRAR compresses files into only two archive formats – the proprietary RAR format and ZIP. Those two formats are widespread and very useable. This file compression software also extracts 14 different file formats, which adds to its utility, and it offers a full array of quality features. It falls a bit short in customer support options, though.

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