A RAR file is simply a compressed file that can contain an unlimited number of files and folders inside it. A single RAR file has a .rar filename extension in Windows and can only be opened by third party software such as Zipware or WinRAR. Microsoft Windows cannot open RAR archive files without installing additional software. RAR files are created because they provide a convenient way to package many files and folders into a single file whilst compressing that data and making it smaller in size than the original individual files. It is particularly great for creating backups of your important files and folders because it can combine all of your files into a single file that's smaller and can be password protected using encryption. For example if you add a 1,000 MB text file to a RAR file it will be compressed in size by up to 95% and the resulting file will only be 50MB or so. Note that not all file types can be compressed to the same degree. File types like mp3, mpg, jpg, etc., are already compressed so compressing them again will have no effect.
So how do you extract RAR files? Well in 5 simple steps. Install the software (in this case Zipware which is completely free), run it, open your RAR file and finally extract the contents. Simple! Note that Zipware is free software that supports all the major archive formats including RAR, Zip, 7-zip and many more.
First download Zipware. Click here to download Zipware freeware to your computer.
Double click the file you have downloaded above. Accept or allow any prompts and click through the installation wizard accepting the defaults. Once installed you should see the Zipware icon on your desktop.
Run Zipware by double clicking the desktop icon shown below.
Click the open icon on the toolbar then browse to and select your RAR file and click OK. You can also open it by dragging and dropping the file into Zipware's window and it will open automatically.
Finally click the purple Extract button in the toolbar and select the directory where you would like the files and folders extracted to. Note that by default zipware will create a containing folder with the same name as the RAR file and extract all the files and folders into that directory. There are many options you can select when extracting RAR files but the default options are fine. For further details regarding all the options please refer to Zipware's help for extracting archives.
Note: Depending on the size of the RAR file it may take some time for Zipware to decompress and extract the files. Once the extracting process has completed you will be able to access the files like any other Windows files.