WinRAR ver 5.60 - A Review WinRAR is the world's most popular compression software! This compression software offers a full list of quality ZIP features and supports a host of extraction formats. You can compress files into RAR 5, RAR 4, and ZIP archive formats and 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 RAR, ZIP, 7Z, ACE, ARJ, BZ2, CAB, GZ, ISO, JAR, LZ, LZH, TAR, UUE, XZ, Z, ZIPX and 001. In this new version 5.50 RARLabs has added extraction support for .LZ archives created by Lzip compressor, inclusion of LZ and ZIPX are added to list of associations in Settings/Integration dialog and LZ and ZIPX extensions are added to default list of formats for -ms switch ("Specify file types to store") invoked without parameters. WinRAR scores high in our extraction format category. 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. The most notable functions of WinRAR include very powerful document and multimedia file compression, file encryption, processing of other archive formats, programmable self-extracting (SFX) archives, damaged archive repair and Unicode support. 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. About win.rar GmbH win.rar GmbH has been the official distributor of WinRAR and RARLAB products since February 2002 and handles all support, marketing and sales functions related to WinRAR & RARLAB.COM. win.rar GmbH is registered in Germany, and is represented worldwide by local partners in more than 70 countries on six continents. win.rar’s declared objective is to provide first-class quality support and to optimize its software to meet customer’s requirements in accordance with their valued feedback. For more information about WinRAR and win.rar GmbH please visit our website at http://www.win-rar.com There are several versions of RAR, for a number of operating environments: Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X. There are two versions of RAR for Windows: (1) Version with graphical user interface - WinRAR.exe; (2) Command line console (text mode) version - Rar.exe. WinRAR and WinRAR self-extracting modules require Windows XP SP3 or later. WinRAR features Complete support of RAR and ZIP 2.0 archives; Highly sophisticated, original compression algorithm; Shell interface including drag-and-drop facility and wizard; Command line interface; Non RAR archives (7Z, ACE, ARJ, BZ2, CAB, GZ, ISO, JAR, LZ, LZH, TAR, UUE, XZ, Z, 001 and several ZIPX types) management; Solid archiving, which can raise compression ratio by 10% - 50% over more common methods, particularly when packing a large number of small, similar files; Multi-volume archives; Creation of self-extracting archives (also multi-volume) using the default or optional SFX modules; Recovering physically damaged archives; Recovery volumes allowing to reconstruct missing parts of multi-volume archives. Unicode support in file names; Other service functions, such as encryption, archive comments , error logging, etc. WinRAR Shell basic states The WinRAR shell may be in one of two basic states. There are similarities and differences among this basic states and the user must be capable to understand what or where he is working (either basic states) in order that he may obtain the best performance of WinRAR. User also needs to be careful, say, the "Delete" command which differs in both states. See further explanaion and images in "DELETING CONTENTS OF AN ARCHIVE". 1. File Management Mode In the file management mode, a list of files and folders from the current working folder is displayed. It is the folder where you intend to make/derive an archive. To go to file management mode you can just double-click the WinRAR icon. From there you can select files and folders in the usual Windows fashion, with a mouse or keyboard, and perform different file operations such as archiving or deleting. Also in this mode it is possible to perform test and extract operations with groups of archives. 2. Archive Management Mode In the archive management mode, the list of archived files and folders from the currently opened archive is displayed. It is the mode when you open an archive to be viewed in WinRAR. You also may select files and folders and perform archive specific operations such as extracting, testing or commenting. When you run WinRAR you will see "Main menu" along with th icons that you will need to get you started. The Main menu are: (1) File (2) Commands, (3) Tools, (4) Favorites , (5) Options and the (6) Help menu. See the images below for a view of the contents drop-downlist as you click each one of them. Options Menu From the Main Menu you can set the general configuration of WinRAR via Main Menu > Options > Settings. This further displays the following WinRAR settings: General, Compression, Paths, File list, Viewer, Security and Integration. WinRAR allows you to export and later import configuration/settings of via Options > Import and Export. Here you can either: (a) Export settings to file Selecting this will give a file "Settings.reg" for you to save. The default location is C:\Users\Xxxx\AppData\Roaming\WinRAR but you can also select a location of your preference. (b) Import settings from file Selecting this allows you to load your saved settings from the default settings location (C:\Users\Xxxx\AppData\Roaming\WinRAR) or a location you previously had set. By default WinRAR first searches the Registry but if "Settings.reg" file is present in WinRAR own folder (WinRAR.exe location) or C:\Users\Xxxx\AppData\Roaming\WinRAR folders, it will be imported automatically. A restart of WinRAR is needed to apply some of imported settings. (c) Create a WinRAR.ini file. Selecting this creates a new "WinRAR.ini file" and copies existing WinRAR settings from Registry to this file. (You can also select a location of your preference). You need to copy a file created with this command either to WinRAR own folder (WinRAR.exe location) or to C:\Users\Xxxx\AppData\Roaming\WinRAR to make it active. Note: You export "Settings.reg" if you wish to move your settings to another computer. You create "Winrar.ini" file if you wish to have a portable WinRAR version, such as on USB flash drive, which stores most of settings in ini file and not in Registry. Directly below the "Main Menu" are the File / Archive Management Command tools. Available command buttons change depending on what mode you are in (file management mode or archive management mode). For file management mode avilable command buttons are (a) Add, (b) Extract To (c) Test (d) View (e) Delete (f) Find (g) Wizard (h) Info, and lastly (i) Repair. For archive management mode avilable command buttons are (a) Add, (b) Extract To (c) Test (d) View (e) Delete (f) Find (g) Wizard (h) Info (i) VirusScan (j) Comment (k) Protect and lastly (l) Repair. You can also set/select further toolbar buttons via Options > Settings > General > Buttons. To the normal user (like me) the default buttons is enough and will almost always be your guide and a good place to start WinRAR with ease. See below image. ARCHIVING FILES Archive file in Windows Explorer or Desktop This will be easier if you have enabled "Integrate WinRAR into shell" option when installing WinRAR. Select the files you are going to compress, in Explorer or Desktop, "right-click" mouse button on the selected files and choose "Add to archive…", "Add to <archive name>...", Compress and Email...", and "Compress to <archive name> and email". A dialog box will appear -- "Archive name and parameters". Selecting one or more files, enter a destination archive name in the dialog box -- "Archive name and parameters" or just accept the default name given. Also in this dialog box you may select the parameters that you would like to use or change. Now for the non-techy mind the default settings given in the dialog boxes are good enough and safe to use. Perhaps just an additional change in the, "General > Set Password" --you will of course from time to time use this one "General > Compression method --to either fast, best , fastest" "General > Archiving options > Test archived files" or if you fancy "Create SFX archive" which as we all know is an executable file "General > Comment"--where you can type-in a description of your archive. Click "OK" to start the archiving process. An archive will be created in the same folder as the selected files. During process/operation a windows will be displayed showing statistics. If you wish to break or stop the the archiving process just click the "Cancel" button in the command window. If you want to "minimize" it and let it run in the background, there is a "Background" button that you can use. Upon completion the command window will disappear and the newly created archive becomes the current selected file in WinRAR. Much faster is by using drag-and-drop, just select the file/files and drag-and-drop it to an existing archive icon and drop them. Files will be added to this archive. To me as a long time WinRAR user I change settings depending on my needs if the files are sensitive or not or it has to be sent via email or I want it to be opened out-rightly when the file is received. For ordinary archiving/compression I use the default/normal with or without password protection. For beginners, the "Add" button in the WinRAR window or the "Wizard -create a new archive / add files to already existing archive" will be much simpler. The use of the Main menu > Commands > "Add files to archive" command is perhaps tailored for the conventional minds. Archive file in WinRAR shell mode Run WinRAR by "double-click" or press Enter on the WinRAR icon or via Windows "Start menu": enter "Programs". WinRAR will then display a list of files and folders in the current folder. You need to go to the folder, which contains files to archive. You need to click on the small disk icons in the bottom left corner, to change the current disk. Click the "Up arrow" button below the toolbar or double-click on the folder named ".." to go to the parent folder. "Double-click" on any other folder to enter that desired folder. Select the files and folders you are going to archive. Having selected one or more files, click on the Add button at the top of the WinRAR window, or select the "Add files to archive" command in the Main menu > Commands. Enter the destination archive name in the dialog box which appears or simply accept the default name. You may select, in this dialog, the format of the new archive (RAR or ZIP), compression level, volume size and other archiving parameters. This dialog described in details in Archive name and parameters dialog topic. Click on the OK button when you are ready to create the archive. Add files using drag-and-drop, to an existing RAR archive can be achieved by selecting the desired archive in the WinRAR window or "double click" on its name. Now add files to the archive by simply dragging them from another program and dropping to WinRAR. Archive files using command line Below is the common command line syntax for archiving files is: WinRAR A [ -switches ] <Archive> [ Files ] [ @File lists ] For example, if you wish add the file LETTER.TXT to the archive LETTERS.RAR, type: WinRAR A LETTERS.RAR LETTER.TXT If an archive extension is not specified, WinRAR will use the default archive format selected in the default compression profile, but you may override it by specifying either .RAR or .ZIP extension. The next example: add all *.WAV files to the solid RAR archive Songs: WinRAR A -S Songs.RAR *.WAV It is also possible to list the files to be archived in a file, rather than listing them in the command line. In this case the name of text file, containing the list of files to be archived, must be given in the command line. This is indicated by placing the symbol @ before this file name. Thus, you can create a file Binaries, containing the strings *.exe and *.com and execute the command: WinRAR A TOOLS.ZIP @Binaries to add all files with .EXE and .COM extensions from the current folder to ZIP archive TOOLS. If you wish to stop the the archiving process just click the "Cancel" button in the command window. If you want to "minimize" it and let it run in the backgroud, there is a "Background" button that you can use. If archiving is completed without problems, WinRAR terminates. Diagnostic message window is displayed in case of error. SFX archives An SFX or SelF-eXtracting archive is an archive, merged with an executable module, which is used to extract files from the archive when executed. Thus no external program is necessary to extract the contents of an SFX archive, it is enough to execute it. Nevertheless WinRAR can work with SFX archives as with any other archives, so if you do not want to run a received SFX archive (for example, because of possible viruses), you may use WinRAR to view or extract its contents. All SFX archives usually have .exe extension as any other executable file. People nowadays use SFX archives as a convenient way to send a file to someone else, but do not know, if they have an appropriate archiver to extract the files in the archive. To create an SFX archive from the command line or via WinRAR shell either select "Create SFX archive" option in Archive name and parameters dialog, when creating a new archive or enter into an already existing archive and press "SFX" button. In the WinRAR shell you can select the desired SFX module from the list displayed when executing Main menu > Tools > Convert archive to SFX command. If an archive is already self-extracting, using the command "Convert archive to SFX" will give you options to, "Do not change SFX module", "Add a new SFX module", or "Remove the already existing module from the archive". In this case WinRAR does not touch the original archive and creates a new archive with the same contents, but without self-extracting module. EXTRACTING FILES There are so many ways to extract files/folders from an archive in WinRAR. It is really on the preference of the user what he will use. See examples below. Extracting files in WinRAR shell mode To extract a file using WinRAR you must first open the archive in WinRAR by: (1) Double-clicking or press "Enter" on the archive name in the Windows Explorer window or Desktop. If WinRAR was associated with archives during installation, an archive will be opened in WinRAR. You may also associate WinRAR with archives after the installation using the Integration settings -- Main menu > Options > Settings > Integration. (2) Double-clicking or press "Enter" on the archive name in the WinRAR window itself. (3) Drag-and drop an archive to the WinRAR icon or window. Before doing this ensure that WinRAR does not already display another archive, otherwise the dropped archive will be added to the currently displayed archive. (4) Run WinRAR from the command-line with a single parameter - the archive name. When an archive is opened in WinRAR (archive management mode) its contents are displayed and can be viewed. Select files/folders you want extracted. Selecting one or more files, click the "Extract To" button at the top f the WinRAR window and click "OK". The "Extract To" dialog box also offers a few advanced options. During the extraction process and want to "minimize" it and let it run in the background, there is a "Background" button that you can use. If the extraction is completed without errors, WinRAR will return to the shell, in case of an error, a "Diagnostic message" windows will be displayed showing the error/info. You can stop the extracting process anytime. Just click the "Cancel" button in the command window to stop it. Extracting files in Windows Explorer or Desktop This will be easier if you have enabled "Integrate WinRAR into shell" option when installing WinRAR. Select the archive file/s you are going to decompress, in Explorer or Desktop, "right-click" mouse button on the selected files and choose "Open with WinRAR" --WinRAR shell will open, "Extract files..." -- enter the destination desired folder click "OK", "Extract Here" --to current folder, and "Extract to <folder name>\" -- without additional requests. Drag-and drop method is done by selecting the archive/s and then press-and-hold the right mouse button then drag the selected archive to the selected folder destination. For beginners, the "Extract To" button in the WinRAR window or the "Wizard --unpack an archive" will be much simpler. Please see images above. Extracting files using command line Below is the common command line syntax to extract files with full paths: WinRAR X [ -switches ] <Archive> [ Files ] [ @File lists ] [ Destination folder\ ] To extract files, ignoring paths: WinRAR E [ -switches ] <Archive> [ Files ] [ @File lists ] [ Destination folder\ ] For example if you wish extract the file LETTER.TXT to the current folder from the archive LETTERS.RAR, use the following command: WinRAR X LETTERS.RAR LETTER.TXT Archive extension is optional and may be omitted. The next command extracts all *.WAV files from the archive Songs to the folder Audio: WinRAR X Songs *.WAV Audio\ It is also possible to list the files to be extracted in a file, rather than listing them in the command line. In this case the name of text file, containing the list of files to be extracted, must be given in the command line. This is indicated by placing the symbol @ before this file name. Thus, you can create a file Binaries, containing the strings *.exe and *.com and execute the command: WinRAR X TOOLS @Binaries to extract all files with EXE and COM extensions from the archive TOOLS to the current folder. If you wish to stop the the extracting process just click the "Cancel" button in the command window. If you want to "minimize" it and let it run in the backgroud, there is a "Background" button that you can use. If the extraction is completed without errors, WinRAR will return to the shell, in case of an error, a Diagnostic message window will be displayed. TEST ARCHIVE FILE The easiest way to test an archive for errors is either by double-clicking the target archive (this opens the archive inside WinRAR shell -- archive management mode), by selecting the target archive > right-clicking in Windows Explorer > Test archive or by selecting the archive > right-clicking > Open with WinRAR. When the archive file opens in WinRAR you just select "Test" button at the top of the WinRAR window. All errors found during test are displayed in the "Diagnostic messages" window. If no errors are detected, WinRAR will display a corresponding message. "Test archived files" can also be availed via the Main menu > Commands > "Test archived files" or via the Alt + T keyboard shortcut. See images below. VIEW CONTENTS OF AN ARCHIVE To "view" the files/contents inside an archive you can either use Main menu > Command > View File, or click on the "View" button in the WinRAR window or via keyboard shortcut -- Alt+V. In the "View file" command, WinRAR shows the contents of the file under the cursor in the internal viewer window regardless of the file contents or configuration settings, but if you were to press Enter on a file name, several different results are possible. If the file under the cursor is an archive, WinRAR will open it and display its contents, otherwise further actions depend upon them settings specified in Viewer settings dialog. With this dialog you may force WinRAR to always use the internal viewer, to open the file in the external viewer, to call a program associated by Windows with this file type or to ask, each time before viewing the file, which action described above should be executed. WinRAR can be used to view normal files, whether in an archive or not. If an external program is called to view an archived file, WinRAR unpacks this file to a temporary folder, passes its name to the external program and waits for the program to terminate. After this WinRAR tests the file modification time and if it was updated, offers to update this file in the archive and then deletes the temporary folder with the extracted file. Note that the scheme described above is slightly modified, when Enter is pressed on an archived file, which has .exe extension. In this case WinRAR extracts not only this file, but the complete contents of the archive to the temporary folder and then runs the executable file. The following steps are similar to those described above: WinRAR waits for the executable to terminate, then tests the modification time of the extracted files and if changed or if new files were created, offers to update the archive. The temporary folder and its contents are then deleted. This method of processing .exe files allows programs to be run directly from an archive. For example, you may use it to install new programs without unpacking a distributive manually, simply enter to an archive and press Enter on setup.exe or install.exe program. See images below. DELETING CONTENTS OF AN ARCHIVE The "Delete" command is accessible both in file management mode and in archive management modes. User should be wary of the differences between deleting in both basic states/modes. Delete in File Management Mode In file management mode anything that is deleted (selected files and folders, etc) goes to the Recycle Bin. This is like you are in Windows Explorer. So you have the chance to restore accidentally deleted data. File management mode also allows you to delete files permanently (for advanced users). Using the keyboard, press "Shift+Del" instead of "Del" key to avoid moving files to the Recycle Bin. "Shift+Del" command silently deletes even files with read-only and system attributes and permits to delete files with non-standard names, such as with trailing spaces and dots. Usual Recycle Bin based delete can fail to process such names. Delete in Archive Management Mode In archive management mode the selected files and folders are deleted from the archive completely/permanently, without any possibility of restoring them. Remember that you, (the user) is working inside the archive. Anything deleted inside the achive is deleted permanently (and not confuse yourself with deleting in file management mode where anything deleted goes to the Recycle Bin). Here in archive management mode, there is no "Recycle Bin" so you need to be careful. To command use either Commands menu , button "Delete" on the toolbar, Alt+D or Del keyboard shortcuts. See images below. FIND FILES This command is accessible both in file management and in archive management modes. Using "Find files" dialog it is possible to search for files contained the specified string either in the opened archive or in selected folders or disks. Dialog items are described below. File name to find By default it contains "*", what means to check all files. You may enter other file mask here, for example, "*.txt" to search only in .txt files. It is allowed to enter several file masks separated by spaces. If you need to specify a file name containing spaces, enclose it in quotes. String to find Here you may enter a string to find. If you leave this field blank, WinRAR will display all files matching other specified criteria. Match case Enables case sensitive string comparison. Use all tables Use ANSI, Unicode and OEM (MS DOS) character tables when searching for string. If this option is off, WinRAR uses only the default Windows character table (ANSI) in the search operation. Hexadecimal search Treat the entered string as sequence of hexadecimal values separated by spaces. Disks and folders This field contains list of disks, folders or archive names to search in. Also you may select predefined <Current folder>, <Local hard drives> also as separate disks from the drop down list. Archive types Archive types to search in. By default it contains "*", what means "all archive formats", but, for example, you may enter "*.rar" to search data only in rar archives. It is allowed to enter several archive masks separated by spaces. Because of technical limitations WinRAR is not able to search for text in ACE archives, other formats supported by WinRAR are supported here. "Find in subfolders" option Forces WinRAR to search not only in the specified folder, but also in its subfolders. "Find in files" option If enabled, WinRAR will search in usual not archived files matching the specified file name. "Find in archives" option Enables to search in the archived files. You may set both "Find in files" and "Find in archives" to search a desired string both in archives and in usual files. "Skip encrypted" option If password is required to search inside of encrypted archive, such archive is skipped silently. "Save" button This button saves the current state of dialog, so it will be automatically restored when activated next time. See images below with a wildcard "*.JPG*" to search for all ".jpg" or JPEG files inside the target archive.