RAR and ZIP are compression algorithms to compress your data files so that their size decrease.


  • A RAR file is an archival file created with the WinRAR program. This program can be downloaded as a free trial for a set number of days, but it needs to be purchased and registered for continued use. WinRAR must be used to open RAR files.


  • A ZIP file is an archival file that can be created with several programs, including Freebyte Zip, WinRAR and WinZIP. It also can be created by using the “Archive” function on Macintosh operating systems. WinRAR comes as a free trial, but must be purchased to continue use after the trial expires. ZIP files can be opened with any program that can create ZIP files. It is not restricted to any one program.

Around Longer

  • The first, and perhaps biggest, difference is that ZIP files have been around longer than RAR files, so there are more programs available to open and decompress ZIP files.


  • Another difference is compatibility with operation systems. RAR files require a third-party application to open and extract the files. Microsoft Windows XP, Mac OS X and some Linux versions have a program already installed to open ZIP files.


  • RAR files tend to compress smaller than ZIP files, but this varies according to the size of the files being compressed. The difference is not enough to make a huge impact when archiving files.



ZIP format uses a proprietary encryption algorithm.

RAR archives are encrypted by the much stronger AES-128
standard. If you need to encrypt important information,
it is better to select the RAR archive format.


The Zip 2.0 encryption format is known to be relatively weak,
and cannot be expected to provide protection from individuals with
access to specialized password recovery tools.
If you have important security requirements for your data,
you should look into more robust cryptography solutions.

Data Loss

RAR has better encryption, better compression, and has a lower rate of data loss. Compression doesn’t really matter with audio files because they can’t be compressed very much, and encryption only matters for password protected files. The main reason most people use RAR to upload albums is data loss. Getting a message like “blahblahblah.mp3 could not be extracted because the file is corrupt or damaged” is much more likely with ZIP files, and data loss can occur during compression, uploading, downloading, and extraction. It’s much more convenient for the people uploading to use RAR compression so they don’t have to deal with as many people asking for re-ups due to data loss. Plus any computer has the capability of extracting RAR files because WinRar has an unlimited trial period with the only annoyance being the nag screen, and there are plenty of opensource and freeware alternatives which can handle RAR files, such as 7-Zip, ZipGenius, PeaZip, and IZarc.

Also the person saying ZIP files don’t have to be extracted to play the MP3s is technically incorrect. When you open a file directly from the ZIP folder, it has to be extracted to a temp folder in order to open the file. It just happens as a background process, so you don’t notice it.

Advantages of RAR:

Even though Zip predates RAR and has many applications able to work with it, RAR format has a lot of advantages.

  • A RAR format can compress a file much better than a Zip. Meaning, a same sized file compressed in RAR format produces a slightly smaller size file compared to zip.
  • Using a RAR software one can break up a large file into more manageable size for sending it over a network. Once compressed files are named automatically as part01.rar, part02.rar, part03.rar, part04.rar and so on. To use the file, just double click part01.rar and the entire file is extracted with its original extension. (Make sure you have all the broken parts before you do this).
  •  RAR files also incorporate redundancy or a ‘recovery record’ stored within the archive, making it possible to repair a RAR that has been corrupted.
  • Newer versions of the format support advanced encryption methods.

Most popular open source software available is WinRar, which can used to compress and extract RAR files.

Concluding Differences between ZIP and RAR 

  • Zip was developed by Katz in 1986 whereas RAR war created by Eugene Roshal  from Russia.
  • Zip format was developed much before RAR.
  • Windows, Mac  and some Linux applications comes with a native ability to handle zip formats, whereas RAR formats require third party software to handle it.
  • RAR can compress files better than Zip.
  • Both have the ability to password protect the files.
  • While it is possible to break up a large file into smaller bits using RAR software, it is not possible in a Zip.