Reading .rar, .php files
Question : I have downloaded .rar and .php files from the
Internet, but no software on my PC seem to be able to read them. Please help.
Answer : .rar files are typically compressed with a RAR
archiver. An "archiver" (or compression program/software) compresses a file so
it becomes smaller than its original size. A popular compression format is
PKware's Zip format. The RAR format, created by Eugene Roshal at Chelyabinsk
University in Russia, claims to compress data more efficiently than the Zip
Whatever the format, data packed in this way has to be unpacked before use,
the same way a shirt folded for packing has to be unfolded before wearing. A
compression/decompression program that understands the RAR format has to be
used to unpack the file before it can be used or executed. There are a few
programs (both free and commercial) that can do this. One such program is 7zip
(www.7zip.org). Released by Igor Pavlov under the GNU Lesser General Public
Licence, it's a small and fast program that installs, executes and uninstalls
While we were doing our research for this article, we tried several other
programs that claimed to extract RAR files. In doing so, we found that a lot
of software did annoying things like stuffed the registry with entries, left
junk in the temporary folders, installed or modified file types, and installed
desktop and "quick launch" icons.
In practically all of those cases, the default install auto- matically assumed
the user wanted to install all of those bells and whistles. Sometimes the
software failed to install completely, leaving pieces of themselves all over
the operating system. Because of this, we were glad to find 7zip that worked,
and worked well.
After installing the program, all one needs to do is right-click on the rar
file, select Extract Files and then click on the OK button. The files will
then be extracted under a directory named after the rar archive file. For
instance, if the file name is "xyz.rar", the extracted files will be placed in
a directory named "xyz" under the current directory.
Note, however, that compressed files (.rar, zip, etc) are sometimes used to
bypass malware protection. Many malware scanners cannot de- tect malware in a
compressed file. Because of this, it is ad- visable to scan the archive file
and then scan the extracted files after they have been extracted from the
PHP hypertext preprocessor (PHP) files are actually source code like hypertext
markup language. There's nothing much anyone can actually do with them. The
Web site visitor never actually see the PHP code because it's not sent at all.
PHP code consists mainly of instructions to the server to do various things
such as retrieve data from a database. These instructions are then used to
generate a Web page, which the visitor sees as a php page. In other words,
from a Web site visitor's point of view, a .php page is the same as any
"normal" Web page. There's not a lot anyone can do with it other than read it.
Some people do get confused, however, when they click on a link and end up
downloading a php page instead of the file they thought they were downloading.
This is sometimes because they right-clicked on the download link and selected
Save As from the pop-up menu instead of right-clicking the link.
This is how it happens: The Web site visitor right clicks on a link that looks
like it refers to an executable file and selects Save As. In usual
circumstances, a Save As window would open with the name of the file in the
File Name textbox. The visitor then clicks on the Save button to start the
download. Some download links, however, do not work that way. Instead they
work this way: the page displays a link to an executable file. In actual fact,
the link points to a .php page.
One reason it looks like it might point to an executable file is because the
link location (in the status bar) has been modified to look that way. If,
however, the visitor right clicks on the link and selects Save As, the php
file (the actual destination of the link) will be offered for download.
Clicking on the Save button would then save the php page, and not the file the
php page is supposed to locate and offer.
The only way to get the actu- al file is to left click (not right click) on
it. If you right click on a link, select Save As and see a .php file in the
File Name textbox of the Save As window, click on the Cancel button and then
left click on the link.