RAR Files Explained in Plain English

To decompress your RAR files, use SuperNZB which is a free download for Windows and Mac OS X.

RAR is currently the most efficient method for compressing files. RAR works like ZIP files do on Windows, and like Stuff-It files do on the Mac. RAR files are ‘archives’ which can contain one or more compressed files. RAR files can also be segmented into smaller chunks, which allows them to be sent in a series of emails, burned onto a series of disks, or uploaded to a Usenet newsgroup in a series of posts.

In the binary newsgroups, RAR is used to compress large files. As people post larger and larger files, it has become more important to compress them down as much as possible. That’s why RAR and yEnc were invented, and that is why they quickly became standards. Typically, a poster will compress his file with RAR. Then he will post it with yEnc, which will make his posts smaller than the default UUencode standard. Then he will make, and post, some PAR files to make sure people can get clean copies of the RAR files. After downloading, you will have a set of files that look like this:


Or, using the older naming convention, like this:


When a giant file is compressed with RAR, it must be posted to a newsgroup in hundreds, maybe thousands, of pieces because the newsgroups were originally designed for small text messages. The more pieces, the more likely some will not come through completely intact. To solve this problem, PAR was invented. PAR files are able to magically fix, and even re-create missing files (whether or not they are compressed with RAR.) So, you will usually want to check your RAR files with their associated PAR files before decompressing.

A poster may post his RAR files without PAR files. Maybe the RAR’s will be OK, maybe not, but there will be no way for you to fix them if there is a problem. You may want to download something else, or ask the poster to make and post some PAR files. A poster may post RAR’s without using yEnc or vice versa, or he may post PAR’s for a file that is not compressed with RAR or yEnc. You will find that posters use a wide variety of methods. In general, download files that come with a set of PAR’s; that way you are pretty much guaranteed to get something usable. A last resort to fix a corrupted file is to find somebody with a good copy and ask him to make some PAR’s for you.

This may sound a bit on the elaborate side, however it is this way because the person posting the file must spend a lot of time and effort to do so. Naturally, he wants the process to go as quickly as possible. Posting a 4.5 gigabyte file can take a while, right? So, you can’t blame the poster for using all available compression technologies to make his life easier. Consequently, you will need to learn a few things to get started, and from time-to-time you will have to download some new software to stay current with the latest methods.

27 Responses to “RAR Files Explained in Plain English”

  1. pierre says:

    i’m still having problems viewing my video after installing super nzb… i’m using a firefox bruiser, n the VLC media player can’t seem to be able to play it. sorry

  2. admin says:


    What kind of file is it? You might need to download a codec. Take a look at this page:



  3. Peter says:

    It says “archive damaged or incomplete” how can i fix this

  4. Stu says:

    Interesting thanks… I’m still at a bit of a loss as to why files lose information when being uploaded though, TCP is a reliable protocol – they should be intact.

    That’s the bit i’m stuck on, why do they get corrupted?

  5. michael says:

    For my rar file i downloaded it doesnt let me view it I tried to open it with many other programs but it will not come into view. then i got the program bitzipper. It told me that i need a password. Now I downloaded NewzToolz and have no idea what to do. Can you help me?

  6. admin says:


    You will need to go to wherever you got the RAR file and see if you can find the password. You might be better off looking for another copy of the file that doesn’t have a password.


    • michael says:

      I found the password and downloaded winzip. It always says that there is a problem it encountered while opening the file.

      • admin says:


        See if you can find any PAR files that are associated with the RAR archive. If you find them, run them through QuickPAR and it may be able to fix the RARs:



        • James says:

          Matt, I worked for a short time in the recording industry in both film and music and what people are not being told is that there are a number of technologies for which I am not at liberty to discuss that are being used by owners of the works to prevent others from performing unauthorized re-recording of the works or to make it difficult to copy works by encoding them so that if they are copied certain parts containing the necessary codecs will not copy or replay. This is what owners of works are doing to protect their works and it constantly amazes me that tech advice persons such as you do not explain that to people before you advise them do download or use programs. Any time someone copies something without permission or by paying for it they are stealing and currently that is agains the law. I say this not to start an argument but simply to remind everyone that what they are doing is wrong. Thank you for your time.

          • Steve says:

            James, you are over generalizing and I think you are sounding rather pompous in doing so. Now that you’ve worked in the recording industry, you now feel qualified to be a self appointed expert, judge, jury and executioner. Have you every heard of public domain? Many of the movies, clips, sound bytes, etc, etc, etc fall into the category of “Public Domain. Meaning that any copyright once enforced has lapsed and is no longer valid or applicable unless it is once again copyrighted. You are right regarding the DL of copyrighted material both audio and visual, but a huge percentage of the material available on the NGs is public domain. Please ingrain that into your memory, because I assure you if you lash out at folks in the future, you will hear that legal position in rebuttal. Have a good one.

  7. admin says:


    I’m not a network expert, so I don’t know for sure. However, Usenet data is sent using the NNTP protocol, so that is likely the source of the problem. If you ever get to the bottom of it, please post what you found here.


  8. Bill H. says:

    Is there a way to STOP auto-processing of RAR files? I prefer to unRar myself to my preferred location.

    Bill H.

    • admin says:


      If you are using SuperNZB, go onto the “File” menu and open the Par Job Manager and the Rar Job Manager. As long as those windows are open, SuperNZB will not do automatic processing.


  9. Tom says:

    I’ve been using EZRar until recently. I just installed SuperNZB, and don’t know how to get a list of usenet groups to choose from. I’ve got 3 downloaders open, but where do I access a list of groups?

    • admin says:


      You don’t pick newsgroups when using the NZB method. First, you have to acquire an NZB file. Inside of the NZB, it will list all of the newsgroups.


  10. Darren says:

    I’ve downloaded SuperNZB which was very fast, however I cannot decompress my .rar file. Would you please explain the steps involved from start to finish, and eta of decopressing a 1G file? thnks

  11. anonymous says:

    i have part rars of a iso. last 2 parts are corrupted.Please tell what should i do?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to join RAR files with MasterSplitter?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The RAR’s I want to view are parts of one huge video.

    I’ve never dealt with RAR’s before, but I have dealt with yENC and mastersplitter parts.

    Forgive my ignorance, but I thought RAR’s were pretty much the same.

    Once the files are extracted, don’t they still have to be joined? Who wants to view a piece of a video, then have to stop and open up the next piece, and then the next piece, etc…?

    Will Super-NZB extract and join all of the pieces?

    Also, is it a free fully functional program, or just a trial or demo version?

    Thanks for the help.

  14. admin says:

    The segments of a RAR archive do not ever have to be joined, and should not be joined. RAR just doesn’t work like that.

    The RAR decoder in SuperNZB is completely free and works with no restrictions.

  15. babu says:

    I can suggest to add PeaZip as alternative to extract .rar files on Linux systems.

  16. Enniboddie says:

    Although rar may be one of the best ways to compress, it demands always extra handling! I strongly prefer mp4 or avi files. No extra handling and easy to use!

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