ZIP vs RAR: Difference and Comparison

Files can be saved in various formats inside a computer or a storage device.


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ZIP and RAR are two such formats. Large files that require much storage space must be compressed for easy transfer. ZIP and RAR are two file formats used to archive compressed data.

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, many differences set them apart from each other.

The biggest advantage is that ZIP and RAR can easily compress or decompress your files without harming the data.

Key Takeaways

  1. Zip and Rar are file formats used for compressing and archiving files, reducing their size for more accessible storage and transfer.
  2. While Zip is more commonly used and has better compatibility with various operating systems, Rar provides higher compression ratios and stronger encryption options.
  3. Zip and Rar have advantages and disadvantages; their choice ultimately depends on the user’s specific needs and preferences.


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

Parameters of ComparisonZIPRAR
DeveloperPhil Katz developed it.Eugene Roshal developed it.
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 AlgorithmIt uses ZIP 2.0 Algorithm that is relatively weak.It uses AES-128 Algorithm, which is more efficient.
CreationSeveral programs, like WinRAR, WinZIP, etc., can create these files.WinRAR can only create these files.
Rate of CompressionThe rate of compression is lower.The rate of compression is higher.
File ExtensionsFiles are saved with extensions .zip and .zipxFiles are saved with extensions .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.

Several compressing algorithms can create a ZIP file, but the DEFLATE algorithm is the 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 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 anyone can open ZIP files, RAR files require special software called WinRAR to open files.

RAR stands for Roshal Archive Compressed file. It is named after its Russian creator, Eugene Roshal.

Windows does not have in-built software to open or extract RAR files.


Main Differences Between ZIP and RAR

  1. Phil Katz developed the ZIP format, while Eugene Roshal developed the RAR format.
  2. It is not the case with RAR, where the ZIP format is free and can be supported everywhere. It is paid and can only be opened by WinRAR.
  3. ZIP files are more secure and password-protected, but RAR files can’t be encrypted.
  4. RAR files use the AES-128 algorithm instead of ZIP’s ZIP 2.0 algorithm.
  5. Several programs can create ZIP files, but RAR files can only be created using WinRAR.
  6. The compression rate is lower in ZIP files than in RAR files.
  7. ZIP files are saved with either .zip or .zipx extensions. 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 than the DEFLATE algorithm used by ZIP.
Difference Between ZIP and RAR


Large files can be a menace, especially if they are 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 reduce the file size but keep the data in them intact.

ZIP was created in 1989, earlier than RAR and is still widely used worldwide.

The biggest advantage is 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. 

Several programs can also create ZIP files, while WinRAR can only create RAR files. ZIP and RAR programs have the same function, but the difference lies in the execution and efficiency of compression and decompression.

Considering both advantages and disadvantages, one should choose a program based on their requirements. 

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