WinRAR archiver is a powerful tool which allows you to create, manage, and control archive files.
It supports RAR and ZIP 2.0 archives, special algorithms optimized for text, audio, graphics, 32-bit and 64-bit Intel executables compression. You can now handle archives directly from Windows Explorer due to the shell integration including drag-and-drop facility and cascaded context menus. WinRAR features wizards for beginners and command line interface for advanced users. It can handle non RAR archives (7-Zip, ACE, ARJ, BZ2, CAB, GZ, ISO, JAR, LZH, TAR, UUE, Z, GZip) 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.
Using WinRAR you can create multivolume archives, self-extracting archives (also multivolume) using the default or optional SFX modules. You can use a lot of service functions, such as encryption, archive comments, error logging, etc. The program has an inbuilt viewer for viewing the content of text files within archives. You can create compression profiles in order to optimize your activity.
It has a very friendly user interface, so that the menus are customizable and offer access to important archive commands like extract, test, comment, protect, and lock, but also other important tools such as scan, convert, or benchmark and hardware test.
Pluses: There are several versions of RAR, for a number of operating environments: Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, DOS, OS/2, MacOS X. You can test, lock and repair/recover physically damaged archives or volumes allowing to reconstruct missing parts of multivolume archives. You can also take advantage of miscellaneous options such as Background archiving, turn PC off when done, compression estimation.
Among the new features we may mention: new buttons (options) such as: "Define volume sizes...", "Rename automatically", "Multithreading" option added to "Benchmark and hardware test" command, new command lines, increased compression speed (5 -15%) for some data types. The publisher states that they fixed some bugs in the multithreaded text compression algorithm.
The speed versus the rate of compression came out as medium compared to WinAce and WinZip: a directory containing multimedia and text files in total size of 104 Mb compressed at a normal rate by WinRAR resulted in a 64 Mb in 51 seconds compared to 76,2 Mb in 17 seconds for WinZip and 64,2 Mb in 1 minute and 11 seconds for WinAce.