RAR vs ZIP File – Difference, Best Guide

RAR vs ZIP File

When it comes to compressing large files, there are few different options available, with two of most popular being RAR and ZIP. While both of these formats serve same purpose, they have some notable differences that may make one better suited to certain applications. In this article, we’ll take closer look at RAR vs ZIP file, exploring their similarities and differences.

What are RAR and ZIP?

RAR and ZIP are both file compression formats used to reduce size of files, making them easier to store, send, and share. Compression works by removing redundant information, such as repetitive data, empty space, or information that can be regenerated. The result is a smaller file that takes up less space on hard drive or memory card and can be transferred more quickly over network or the internet.

RAR is an archive format developed by Eugene Roshal in 1993. RAR is proprietary format, meaning it is owned by company that created it, and cannot be used without permission. RAR files typically have a .rar extension and are compressed using combination of lossless and lossy algorithms. Lossless algorithms ensure that no data is lost during compression, while lossy algorithms allow for the removal of non-essential data, resulting in a smaller file.

ZIP, on other hand, an open-source compression format was developed in late 1980s by Phil Katz. ZIP files are typically identified by the .zip extension and are compressed using lossless algorithms. ZIP files are widely used, most modern operating systems come with built-in support for ZIP files.

Difference : RAR vs ZIP File

Compression Algorithms

RAR and ZIP use different compression algorithms, which affect the quality of compressed file and time it takes to compress and decompress file. RAR uses combination of lossless and lossy algorithms to compress files, which means that some data may be lost during compression, but file size will be smaller. Lossless algorithms are used for compressing text and other non-media files, while lossy algorithms are used for media files like images and videos. Use of both algorithms makes RAR more efficient at compressing larger files.

ZIP on other hand, uses only lossless algorithms to compress files. Lossless algorithms are more time-consuming to compress and decompress than lossy algorithms, but they maintain quality of original file. ZIP is often used for compressing text files, but it is less efficient at compressing large media files than RAR.

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Compression Ratio

Compression ratio is measure of how much file is compressed. Compression ratio is expressed as percentage, with higher percentages indicating greater compression. The compression ratio depends on type of data being compressed and compression algorithm used.

RAR files generally have higher compression ratio than ZIP files. This because RAR uses both lossless and lossy compression algorithms, which allows to achieve higher compression ratios than ZIP. However, actual compression ratio vary depending on type of data being compressed.


One of key differences between RAR and ZIP is their compatibility. ZIP is open-source format that is supported by almost all modern operating systems. This means you can open and extract ZIP files on almost any device, without need for any additional software.

RAR, on other hand, proprietary format that requires special software to open and extract files. While there are free and paid RAR extraction programs available, they are not always reliable or easy to use as ZIP extraction programs.

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RAR and ZIP both support password protection to prevent unauthorized access to files. When you create compressed file, you can choose to set a password that must be entered before file can be opened. Password-protected files can be useful when sharing sensitive data over internet or storing files on a shared computer.

RAR provides more advanced encryption options than ZIP, making it better choice for files that require higher levels of security. RAR encryption options include AES-128, AES-192, and AES-256, which are some of most secure encryption algorithms available.

Ease of Use

ZIP is considered to be easier to use than RAR, it is supported by operating systems and requires no additional software to open or extract files. To open ZIP file, you simply need double-click on file, and it will be opened in your default compression program. ZIP files are also easier to create, most operating systems come with built-in support for creating ZIP files.

RAR files, on other hand, require special software to open and extract. While there are many free and paid RAR extraction programs available, they can be more difficult to use and less reliable than ZIP extraction programs. Creating RAR files can also be more complex than creating ZIP files, RAR provides more advanced compression options that may require more configuration.

File Size Limitations

One of limitations of ZIP format it cannot compress files larger than 4GB. This means if you need to compress file larger than 4GB, you will need to use different compression format like RAR. RAR doesn’t have file size limitations, making it better choice for compressing large files.


RAR and ZIP are two of most popular file compression formats available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. While ZIP is more widely supported and easier to use, RAR provides more advanced compression options, higher levels of security, and ability to compress larger files. Choice between RAR and ZIP ultimately comes down to your specific needs and preferences.


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