backup tools & utilities

Backup Software Reviews


WinRar is a Windows version of the RAR archiver - a powerful tool which allows you to create, manage and control archive files, as well as, create backup copies of your files. There are several versions of RAR, for a number of operating environments: Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, DOS, OS/2, MacOS X, PocketPC. WinRar features:

  • WinRar introduces an original compression algorithm. It allows higher compression ratios than other PC archiving tools, especially on executable files, multimedia libraries, large text files, etc. WinRar's compression algorithm is highly optimized for multimedia data. This makes your backups smaller.
  • WinRar supports files and archives up to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 bytes in size, which is about 8,589,934 TB (terabytes). The number of archived files is, for all practical purposes, unlimited. WinRar has been tested to handle over 1 million files. This enables you to create huge backup copies of unlimited size.
  • WinRar provides complete support for RAR and ZIP archives and is able to unpack CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO, Z, 7ZIP backups and archives.
  • WinRar supports NTFS extended file attributes, file security and NTFS data streams for accurate backup. WinRar also supports Unicode international characters in file names.
  • WinRar offers both a classic interactive Windows interface and the command line interface.
  • WinRar provides functionality for creating a 'solid' archive, which can raise the compression ratio by 10% - 50% over more common methods, particularly when packing large numbers of small files.
  • WinRar offers a number of service functions, such as setting a password with industry standard AES encryption, adding archive and file comments. Even physically damaged archives may be repaired and an archive may be locked to prevent further changes. Authenticity information may be added for additional security.

Rar files and Zip files

Zip files

  • The principal advantage of Zip format is its popularity. For example, most archives in the Internet are Zip archives. Zip files are widely supported across many computer configurations and operating system platforms. Microsoft Windows XP features a built-in support for Zip files. You can browse inside Zip files and work with Zip files just like with any other folder on your computer. So if you are going to send an archive to somebody, it might be a good idea to use the Zip format.
  • Another Zip advantage is speed. Zip archives are usually created faster.

Rar files

  • Rar format in most cases provides significantly better compression than Zip, especially in solid mode. Another important feature of Rar is support of multi-volume archives.
  • Rar format also has a few important features, such as the recovery record, which allows the restoration of physically damaged data, and locking of important archives to prevent their accidental modification.

Basic backup strategy and Zip files

Lately, the Zip format has been extended with Zip64 extensions to handle files of practically unlimited size (up to 8,589,934,591 GB). Additionally, WinZip 9 introduced extensions to support AES-256 compatible encryption within Zip files. With these important improvements Zip format is likely to remain the dominant archive format on the Internet, so there is no real need to leave Zip in favour of Rar, especially if use archiving as a means of regular backups.

Backing up with WinRar

Backup options

Erase destination disk contents before archiving. All files and folders on the target disk will be erased before starting the backup operation. If you create volumes, erasing will be performed before creating of each volume, giving you the chance to back up to non-empty removable disks. The option applies only to removable media, hard disk cannot be erased using this function.

Add only files with attribute 'Archive' set. Only those files which have attribute 'Archive' set, will be added. This option is designed for backup purposes to mimic the incremental or semi-incremental backup operation.

Clear attribute 'Archive' after compressing. Clear attribute 'Archive' on successfully compressed files. The same as above.

Open shared files. Allows to process files opened by other applications for writing. It helps if an application allowed read access to a file. This option could be unsafe, because it allows a file to be archived, while that file may be in the process of being modified by another application. Use with care.

Generate archive name by mask. Appends the current date string to an archive name when creating an archive. Useful for daily backups. The date string is formatted by the specified mask.

Keep previous file versions. Forces WinRar to keep previous file versions when updating files in the already existing backup. Old versions are renamed according to a special naming convention. Files are marked file their version numbers.

Additional settings for easier backup

  • High precision modification time. If this option is disabled, file modification time is stored with two seconds precision. It is enough for FAT file system, but insufficient for NTFS. Enabling this option may slightly increase the backup size, up to 5 bytes per each archived file, but it allows WinRar to preserve the file time with 0.0000001 second precision. WinRar automatically turns off the high precision mode if the capability is not supported by the source file system, so it will not be active when backing up from FAT disks.
  • Store creation time. Store last access time. Windows file systems keep three different time fields with each file: last modification, creation and last access time. By default WinRar stores only the last modification time, but using this option you may enable storing of additional information. It may be useful for backups.
  • Include files by time. The default value of this option is 'any time', so WinRar will back up all selected files regardless of their time stamp. But changing it to 'older than' or 'newer than' you may force WinRar to back up only those files which are older or newer than a specified number of days, hours or minutes. For example, it can be useful if you wish to back up only files modified in the last 3 days.

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