Difference between ZIP and RAR

Key Difference: ZIP and RAR are widely used file formats for data compression and archive. ZIP supports lossless data compression. Whereas, RAR supports data compression, error recovery and file spanning.

In 1989, Phil Katz created the ZIP format. Today, ZIP is supported by many software including the built-in ZIP support provided by the Windows operating systems and Mac OS X (versions 10.3 and later). “.zip” or “.ZIP” and the MIME media type application/zip are its file extensions. The ZIP file format permits a number of compression algorithms. ZIP can be used to archive multiple files and the compression is optional when archiving. If compression is used for an archive, then it is applied on individual files.

ZIP format supports compression methods such as DEFLATE, BZIP2, LZMA (EFS), WavPack, PPMd, etc. An advantage of the ZIP format is that the files could be randomly accessed as the program does the compression of the files in an archive separately. In addition, the user has the option to apply different compression algorithms to different file types to obtain better compression. ZIP supports Password-based symmetric encryption.

Eugene Roshal, a Russian software engineer has developed the RAR format. The name RAR stands for Roshal Archive; and the software is currently licensed by win.rar. The filename extensions used by RAR are “.rar” for the data volume set and “.rev” for the recovery volume set. RAR uses a closed algorithm to compress files.

A compression method based on Lempel-Ziv (LZSS) and prediction by partial matching (PPM) compression is used in the current RAR version (version 3). Third party software such as WinZip, RarZilla, 7-Zip, IZArc, PeaZip, Zipeg, etc. could be used to read RAR files. However, only software like WinRaR could be used to create RAR files. One can reconstruct missing files by creating “recovery volumes” when creating RAR files.

There are not many differences between ZIP and RAR; however, major differences are as follows:

  • Compressing data using RAR will be slower than compressing the same data using ZIP.
  • The rate of compression of RAR is better than that of the ZIP format.
  • Creating RAR files would require proprietary software such as WinRAR; whereas, ZIP is available on a lot of commercial and open source tools, and libraries.
  • The minimum size allowed for a ZIP file is 22 bytes, and the minimum size of a RAR file is 20 bytes.
  • The maximum size of a standard ZIP file is 4 GiB minus 1 byte and 16 EiB minus 1 byte for ZIP64. Whereas, the maximum size of a RAR file is 8 exabytes minus 1 byte.

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