The RAR format is a compression format like ZIP, but is much more capable and fits well into the Usenet community. Both the RAR format and the WinRAR utility are the creation of Eugene Roshal - hence, the Roshal Archive. RAR became the standard on the newsgroups because of it's superior ability to compress and manage an archive. Like any great story, RARs consist of 3 sections: a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The RAR Story
You're likely to encounter two RAR file enumeration systems during your journey through Usenet. The numbering depends on the version of WinRAR that was used to create the archive:
|Version 3.0 and above format
||Pre-Version 3.0 format
Beginning - From WinRAR 3.0 on, the first file of the archive has an extension of .part1.rar. Prior to version 3.0 it would be .rar. This is the file you open to extract the entire archive.
Middle - These are all the files that lie between the Beginning and the End. They should all have exactly the same size as the Beginning file. Due to the nature of the newer YENC encoding, these files may appear to have slightly different sizes when displayed in the news reader. This is normal, just make sure that once they are decoded on your hard drive they all have exactly the same size.
End - This is the last file of the archive and is distinguishable by the shorter file size than the rest of the parts. As WinRAR adds data to the archive it chops off the file into equal pieces, the last piece will only contain whatever is left of the archive at the end.
WinRAR - A Mighty Tool
Before modern binary news readers took on the role of reassembling archives, WinRAR was an essential tool for putting the multiple parts back together. But like any seasoned Usenet citizen knows, WinRAR is there for those "what if" situations, such as, "What if my news reader says FU and doesn't reassemble the archive?" Not to worry, because you've already downloaded WinRAR. Now check out Slyck's Guide To WinRAR
to learn how to use this program.
So what do you do if you have downloaded an archive with 47 parts and 2 of them are missing? Read the next section on PAR & PAR2 files to find out what to do about missing files.