Difference Between ZIP and RAR (With Table)

Files can be saved in various formats inside a computer or a storage device. ZIP and RAR are two such formats. Large files that take up a lot of storage space need to be compressed for their easy transfer. ZIP and RAR are two file formats that are used to archive compressed data.

Both ZIP and RAR are the most used in the market to compress files. They both use the LZ77 algorithm to compress and decompress files. But still, there are many differences that set them apart from each other. ZIP and RAR can easily compress or decompress your files without harming the data, which is the biggest advantage.


The difference between ZIP and RAR is that ZIP is free and supported everywhere, but RAR is not free and the files can only be accessed using WinRAR. The extra charge demanded by RAR files also points to the efficiency provided by it.

Comparison Table Between ZIP and RAR

Parameters of ComparisonZIPRAR
DeveloperIt was developed by Phil Katz.It was developed by Eugene Roshal.
PriceIt is free and is supported almost everywhere.It is not free and requires a tool called WinRAR to compress and decompress files.
SecurityZIP is more secure and comes with password encryption.RAR is not secure and does not provide password protection.
Encryption AlgorithmUses ZIP 2.0 Algorithm that is relatively weak.Uses AES-128 Algorithm that is more efficient.
CreationThese files can be created by several programs like WinRAR, WinZIP, etc.These files can only be created by WinRAR.
Rate of CompressionThe rate of compression is lower.The rate of compression is higher.
File ExtensionsFiles are saved with extension .zip and .zipxFiles are saved with extension .zip and .zipx
Compression AlgorithmZIP uses the DEFLATE algorithm to compress data which is less efficient.RAR uses a different algorithm to compress data which is more efficient.

What is ZIP?

ZIP is a file format that contains one or more compressed files. It is an ideal way to make big files smaller and to keep related files together. A ZIP file can be created by several compressing algorithms, but the DEFLATE algorithm is most commonly used. ZIP files appear as containing a zipper over the file in the icon.

The format was created in response to a lawsuit filed by Systems Enhancement Associates (SEA) against PKWARE for stealing their ARC system of archiving files. The name “zip” signified ‘at a higher speed’. The program was designed to be faster than any compressing program made to the day.

ZIP files can be compressed using several methods. A file can also be saved as it is without compressing it. Files in one ZIP folder are compressed or decompressed separately and by different methods. Due to this, new files can be added and extracted anytime. 

A directory record placed at the end of the archive tells us about the files stored inside the ZIP folder. The directory also informs us about where the file is saved in the folder. This makes locating a particular file a very easy task.

What is RAR?

RAR is also an archive file format that is used to compress files. In addition to that, it can also recover errors and span files. The previous versions of RAR used to split large archive files into several smaller files. The files need to be extracted from the folder before reading. 

RAR provides faster compression and decompression of files as compared to ZIP. It can also detect duplicate files and remove them. File recovery comes easily with RAR. While ZIP files can be opened by anyone, RAR files require special software called WinRAR to open files.

RAR stands for Roshal Archive Compressed file. It is named after it’s Russian creator Eugene Roshal. Windows does not have an in-built software to open or extract RAR files.

Main Differences Between ZIP and RAR

  1. ZIP format was developed by Phil Katz while RAR format was developed by Eugene Roshal.
  2. Where ZIP format is free and can be supported everywhere, it is not the case with RAR. It is paid and can only be opened by WinRAR.
  3. ZIP files are more secure and can be password protected but RAR files can’t be encrypted.
  4. RAR files use the AES-128 algorithm as opposed to ZIP’s ZIP 2.0 algorithm.
  5. ZIP files can be created by several programs but RAR files can only be created using WinRAR.
  6. The rate of compression is lower in ZIP files than that in RAR files.
  7. ZIP files are saved with either .zip or .zipx extension. On the other hand, RAR files are saved with several extensions like .rar, .rev, .r00 and .r01.
  8. RAR uses a more efficient compressing algorithm as opposed to the DEFLATE algorithm used by ZIP.


Large files can be a menace to deal with, especially if it to be shared with someone or might take a while to download/upload. To reduce the chances of such problems, ZIP and RAR were created. They help in reducing the size of files but keep the data contained in them intact.

ZIP was created in 1989, earlier than RAR was and is still widely used all around the world. The biggest advantage being that it is free. RAR was developed later in 1993, but is more efficient than ZIP. ZIP files are also more secure than RAR files as they use a more advanced encryption algorithm. 

ZIP files can also be created by several programs while RAR files can only be created by WinRAR. Both ZIP and RAR programs have the same function, but the difference lies in the execution and efficiency of compression and decompression. Keeping in mind the advantages and disadvantages of both, one should choose a program based on their requirements. 


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570866713000257
  2. https://brighterguide.com/best-7-zip-alternatives/