Creating Archives with WinRAR

This is not intended as a replacement for WinRAR's manual. That said, creating an archive of something, either for posting or for preservation to another media as a backup, is a simple and straight forward matter.

 

We will create an archive from a directory structure, including subdirectories. If you have WinRAR properly installed, you have the option of right-clicking on a directory icon in Windows Explorer, and when the context menu pops up there will be a number of WinRAR options available to you- at this writing there are 4 options in the WinRAR call-out submenu:

  1. Add to archive

  2. Add to "directory-name.rar"

  3. Compress and email

  4. Compress to "directory-name.rar and email"

We will chose the first option, because that is the one which will give the most power and flexibility. When WinRAR pops-up you will have some choices:

The name of the directory you selected will be in the "Archive name" window as the default name for the archive, you can edit it to anything you like. If you replace the ".rar" with 001 you will be creating an old-style numeric archive set with numericextensions from 001-999 as is used by many release groups.

 

The "Update mode" drop-down default is to 'Add and replace files',  that will leave the original files intact, and simply make compressed copies. The "Profiles" Button gives you the ability to create your own defaults, among other options. We won't need that for this archive.

 

The Archive format we want is RAR, which is the default.

 

The Archiving options shown selected are for creating the densest possible archive, with a recovery record to repair minor damage. The option to Test the archived files against the originals is checked. This will make WinRAR extract the archived files after creation, and compare the result bit-for-bit with the original.

 

We are telling WinRAR to Split the archives into 15-million byte RAR files. The normal file size for the Warez groups is 2,915,200 bytes. That is also the size of a 2.9 MB floppy disk, which is where the size comes from.

Next screen is the "Advanced" tab, where we set the Compression.
We're not making any recovery volumes, the "Recovery record" size is set to 2 percent and we're telling WinRAR tp archive in the background.  Now click the "Compression" button.
It is in the "Compression" screen where we optimize the output.
.These settings are all defaults, and are fine. Use the largest "Dictionary size" your version of WinRAR supports. Versions before 2.9 had a smaller dictionary size, and consequently are unable to handle archives made with newer versions of WinRAR. Click "OK" to accept these values and get back to the "Archive name and parameters" screen above.  If you want to add a Comment, you can do so in a text-entry window at the "Comment" tab.

 

Now click on the "Files" tab.

 

 

The "Files to add" window shows that you are adding all the files in that path, including any sub-directories, which is what we want.

 

There are no files we wish to exclude, but you could add them here if you had a file, or file-type, you didn't want to include. This is mainly for backing-up data.

 

Files to store without compression: You might not seek to further compress "*.cab" files, for example- your choice.

 

File paths: This setting- "Store relative paths" recreates the directory structure perfectly. We do not intend to put each file in a separate archive!

 

Since this isn't a backup, and since we don't intend to make all the times the same, we can just click "OK" and let WinRAR make the archives. It will put the archive files in the parent directory of the directory-tree you are compressing. In the example shown the individual rar files will be in "X:\Image Program Files" as "Easy CD Pro 95.part01.rar", Easy CD Pro 95.part02.rar", etc.

 
Now to create a PAR set for this, in case some files should go bad, or fail to propagate.

This example will use FSRaid v2.8 which is available as Freeware from http://www.fluidstudios.com/

FSRaid is an excellent program, both the developer and Fluid Studios are to be congratulated, and thanked, for making it available as freeware.

FSRaid doesn't respond to a context-menu "DDE" interface, so just install it and start the program.

 

We wish to set our "Prefs" for this first-time setup, so click that button on the lower-right corner..

 

These are good defaults. Note that the "Associate with PAR files" option is checked. That will allow you to double-click on a PAR file to start FSRaid and automatically begin to repair the set (since we have the "Automatically repair the set" checked.  The option to "Load archives after creation" forces FSRaid to check the archives against the the PAR files it just made. If there is a problem it is best to discover it as early as possible.

 

Both "Name-fixing" options are checked. (This is a handy feature in FSRaid, as some servers mangle some file names, inserting underscores for spaces, etc. )

 

When you click on the "Add files..." button, a standard browsing window opens, it will add all the files you select. You can also just drag/drop files into this window from explorer. You can set the base name for the parity set, and you can select the directory where the PAR files will be saved. The default is the same directory as the RARs/ZIPs you are creating the parity-set for, which is usually exactly what we want.

The Ratio is the % of the total archive size that the PARS should equal or exceed. In this example it is set to 10%. 10 - 15% is a good range for most uses. Since there are 19 zips selected FSRaid is prepared to create 2 parity files, plus the index: *.PAR, *.P01 and *.P02.

The only thing left to do is to hit the "Create" button. As we set in the "Prefs" FSRaid will load and test the set as soon as it's done creating the PARS.

 

If all goes well, you will have created a successful archive-set, with PARS. All you need now are an SFV and an NFO.

 

For the SFV use QuickSFV by Mercedes. It is much advanced over the venerable WinSFV. See the downloads page for either of those, and for a good NFO-making program from "Dave".

 

Instead of creating PARs with FSRaid, we could have used QuickPAR to create a PAR2 set. The principles are similar, with 10-15% of PAR2s created. The default setup values in QuickPAR are all normally used in UseNet, so little to no tweaking is necessary except try to get the block-size close to the segment size you will be posting (assuming that you are creating the PARs for posting, and not for archival storage.) For a yEnc post of 3000 lines per segment, a block-size of around 384KBytes (or so) is fine. That corresponds to a UUE post of around 6000-6500 lines per segment. 

 

 

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