Buying WinRAR: Necessary?

Here’s everything about buying WinRAR:

You can get WinRAR for free, completely legally, and the free version is perfectly identical to the paid version.

Paying is only really necessary if you want to use the software for commercial purposes.

Because WinRAR doesn’t push people to buy the software, most use it for free, and it’s generally fine.

So if you want to learn all about purchasing WinRAR, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get right into it!

Buying WinRAR: Necessary? (Everything to Know)

What Is WinRAR?

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Let’s jump into this by talking about WinRAR in general.

WinRAR is known as a file archiver that is designed specifically for Windows systems.

If you’re not familiar with that terminology, it means that WinRAR is good at dealing with compressed files.

Specifically, WinRAR is built to handle .rar and .zip files, and I’ll explain what those are with an example.

Let’s say you’re on a Windows computer and you want to download a game to play.

You go to the game’s website and click the download button.

You get the download notification, and when that part is done, there’s a new folder on your computer, probably in your “Downloads” folder.

When you go to open that folder, you see that it has an image of a zipper on it.

This means that it’s a zipped folder, and that also means you need something like WinRAR to unzip it in order to open it and use it.

So, why is it zipped?

Zipping is a form of file compression.

The idea is that the computer can get rid of a lot of pieces of information within the files and folders that are being compressed.

That makes them take up less digital space, and it lowers the amount of information that has to be included in your download.

This lowers the strain on servers and your computer, and it makes everything move faster and more efficiently.

Once a file or folder is compressed (zipping is only one of many forms of compression), a computer can use what is called archiving technology to decompress the information. 

Basically, the compression technique follows very strict rules.

If your computer knows the rules, then it can figure out exactly what was removed from the original data in order to compress it.

So, it can reverse engineer the original information.

WinRAR is a tool that allows you to compress or decompress files in this way.

It actually does quite a bit more than that.

Archiving is frequently used for compression, but it can be used to create robust backups, encrypt information, and manage data in general.

WinRAR does all of these things.

How Does WinRAR Work?

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How does WinRAR do these things?

Basically, it’s built around an archiving rule set.

Whenever WinRAR (or other compatible software) archives data, it follows those strict rules.

Following the rules, basically creates a digital blueprint of the information in the archive.

Whether you’re compressing, encrypting, or just moving data, that blueprint is ultimately what your computer uses to handle the information in the file.

WinRAR works in reverse by reading blueprints that are in either the RAR or ZIP format.

So, if you have a file that ends in .rar or .zip, WinRAR can follow the blueprint to reconstruct that data, whether it is decompressing, decrypting, or restoring information.

How Do You Get WinRAR? (3 Ways)

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We got a little technical there, but now you know more about WinRAR and why you might want to use it.

That really sets a better stage for us to discuss how you can go about getting WinRAR.

Technically speaking, you can install it in any of the same ways as any other software.

You can look for a download, you can run a flash drive with the installer, and you can even use an installation CD if you want (they still exist for WinRAR).

I’m going to take you through a download process for WinRAR, since that’s the easiest and most common way to acquire the software.

Then, I’ll talk about the different financial options associated with legally licensed WinRAR.

#1 Download WinRAR

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The internet is a big place, and you can find WinRAR in a lot of different back alleys, so to speak.

But, you can download it directly from the makers of the software using this link.

The link is verified, so it should be free of any malicious software or other problems.

It’s also perfectly legal to use that download.

That covers the easy way to acquire the software.

Now, we can talk about money.

#2 Buy WinRAR

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You can purchase WinRAR using the link in the previous section.

If you do, there are a few pricing options.

You can buy a single perpetual license (which I’ll explain in a minute).

You can also buy licenses in bulk, and WinRAR offers bulk discounts.

WinRAR also offers a physical CD that you can order.

It is currently priced at $9.99, but that doesn’t include a license for the software.

So, you would need to purchase a license and the CD to go that route.

The third option on the site is for WinRAR Maintenance.

This is a service package that comes with the software that includes a guarantee of regular upgrades, a year of premium tech support, and support in case you lose your key.

Software Licenses

That’s how you buy WinRAR, but it will make a little more sense if I explain software licenses.

Generally speaking, you don’t actually buy software at all.

Instead, you buy permission to use the software. 

You can kind of think of it like Netflix.

If you have a Netflix account, you pay the company money, but you don’t actually own anything related to Netflix.

Instead, you’re paying for access to the platform.

Software is similar.

Since software doesn’t actually physically exist, no one can sell you the ones and zeros that ultimately make up the computer code.

Instead, they sell you a license that gives you the right to use their intellectual property.

Licensing usually comes in one of two forms: perpetual or subscription.

A perpetual license means that you pay for the software one time, and you get to use it for the rest of your life.

You never have to pay for it again.

This is a bit of an older idea, but it’s still used often enough.

The other option is a subscription-based license.

In this case, you pay at regular intervals (usually monthly or annually), and you buy access to the software for that amount of time.

If you keep renewing the subscription, you maintain access.

To reiterate, WinRAR uses a perpetual license.

You pay once, and you’re set.

There are no recurring fees (unless you need an additional license for some reason).

#3 Get WinRAR for Free

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The other option is to get WinRAR for free.

Using the same download page I linked earlier, you will see an option to buy WinRAR or download it.

If you choose the download option, you won’t be charged.

You can download the whole thing, and it will work, and WinRAR will never ask for a credit card.

Keep in mind that this is a way to get the software for free from the people who make it.

There is no piracy involved.

What Are the Differences Between Paid and Free WinRAR?


This brings us to an essential question.

If there is a free option and a paid option, how does WinRAR incentivize people to pay for their stuff?

Are there two versions of the application?

Actually, no.

The free download is identical to the paid option in every way.

You’ll get the same performance, capabilities, and everything.

You won’t get additional advertisements or anything like that.

They are truly identical.

So, why would anyone ever pay for WinRAR?

It comes down to licensing.

WinRAR Licensing

Software developers get to set the rules for how people use their software, and there’s generally a difference between personal and commercial use.

If you’re using WinRAR on your home computer, then you can download it for free.

Technically, this is a free trial, but WinRAR will never prompt you to upgrade from the free trial.

It just keeps working.

You never have to pay.

The real reason for the paid license is for commercial use.

If you make money off of WinRAR, then they are entitled to compensation.

A paid license is how they extract that compensation.

So, if you’re using WinRAR commercially, you’re supposed to pay for a license.

That’s really it.

Does Anyone Buy WinRAR?

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If I’m going to take this question perfectly literally, then yes.

There are people who purchase WinRAR licenses.

If we’re going to zoom out and look at the big picture, then buying WinRAR is not terribly common.

The majority of people who use the software don’t pay for it because they don’t have to.

If I had to venture a guess, I would suggest that the majority of people who pay for WinRAR do so for one of two reasons.

Either they need a license and/or the maintenance features for commercial applications, or they just like the software and voluntarily support the company by paying for a license.

Sure, you could find other niche cases if you searched hard enough, but those two reasons will cover the majority.

So, if you’re here because you want to know whether or not you should pay for WinRAR, you can use the software for free (double check the license agreement if you plan to use it for commercial purposes).

You can get the software from the company using their official free download.

As long as you do that, you aren’t violating their terms, and you don’t have to pay if that is the path you choose.

Granted, I can’t guarantee that WinRAR will always work this way.

They could change the rules in the future if they wanted to.

But, WinRAR has been effectively free for many years now, so you can proceed with confidence.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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