Do you often need to share your files online or offline?
Sending or saving large files can be hard, especially when there are limits to how much space you can use. For example, email platforms like Yahoo and Gmail often allow attachments up to 25MB only. When we encounter this type of issue, we often look for other types of solutions.
Some spend money to buy more hard drives or cloud storage space. Others send large files in batches. Instead of spending money or using up all your time, why not use file compression?
If you want to learn about file compression, how it works, and how to do it, keep reading. We will also talk about why or when you need to compress files. At the end of the article, we’ll share some tips when you’re compressing files.
What Is File Compression?
File compression is the process or technique of reducing the size of data files. Your goal is to make that data take up less space on your hard drive, cloud, or other media and platforms. When you compress files, you reduce their total size but maintain their integrity.
File compression is a useful strategy in file management. Your computer software, programs, and utilities use this technique to save space.
How File Compression Works
File compression works in different ways, depending on the type of file compression. File compression comes in two forms: lossy and lossless compression. Below, we discuss these two types and how their file compression process goes.
Lossy compression reduces file size by leaving out tiny, redundant bits of data. Often, you’ll see lossy compression occur in images and music files. For example, in MP3 files, lossy compression removes imperceptible frequencies.
Most listeners enjoy listening to the MP3 file without noticing the missing frequencies. In JPEG images, compression combines pixels with similar nearby colors to shrink them. When an image or audio file gets too compressed, you’ll lose its original quality.
Lossless compression is the other type of file compression. From its name, you can tell that it reduces file size without removing any data. It doesn’t work with all file types, however. Some examples of lossless compression include PNG, FLAC, and ZIP.
If you want to get a smaller compression of a file, use lossy compression. If you want to preserve the quality or create a reduced replica of a file, use lossless compression. It’s important to note that lossless compression creates a larger file than lossy.
Reasons to Compress Your Files
Why do you need to compress your files, anyway? Below are the most common reasons to use file compression methods:
- Compress files to make them more portable
- Easier file sharing
- Compressed files become secure or encrypted
- It keeps antivirus from removing files
- Faster and easier file management
Let’s focus on portability and simpler file management/sharing. When you compress your files, you can double the amount of data that can fit a drive or cloud.
For example, you have a 1-terabyte external hard drive. You can bring only this 1TB hard drive with you on a business trip where you can’t access your cloud or other files. Within this drive, one of the following can fit:
- 250,000 photos taken with a 12MP camera;
- 250 movies/500 hours of HD video;
- 6.5 million Document pages
That is how much 1TB worth of data is. However, most of us have a combination of files, video, photos, and MP3 on our computers. This is only to show how much data you can put in a 1TB hard drive.
Compressed files are harder to access. To get this benefit, you need to add a password during the compression phase. After doing this, you prevent any unauthorized access to your files.
If you have files that antivirus programs are sensitive to, you can compress them instead. If you want to save time and effort, compress them. Antivirus programs won’t touch compressed files.
How to Compress Your Files
One of the easiest and quickest ways to compress files is by making ZIP folders. If you’re using a PC, compressing a file with ZIP is easy because you don’t need other programs or software.
Start the process by selecting the files or the folder that you want to compress. Right-click the selection and select “Compressed (zipped) folder” under Send to. You can do the same on Mac when you right-click the folder and select “Compress [filename].”
You can also create an empty ZIP file first on your desktop or a Windows Explorer page. Right-click a blank area, and under New, select Compressed (zipped) Folder. Rename it and drag your files into the zip folder.
You can also save your files in lossy compression formats like JPEG, MP4, or MP3. For example, instead of saving RAW photos, you can save them as JPEG instead. However, you’ll get stuck with JPEG-quality photos.
Learn How to Open ZIP Files Before You Compress Them
You can’t lock your house without a key. The same applies when you’re compressing your files. Before you compress them into ZIP files, find out how to “unzip” them.
The easiest method of unzipping a ZIP file is to right-click on it first. Next, select “Extract All…” and wait for a new window to pop up. Here, you can pick where you want the files to get extracted. Finally, hit extract.
Next to the ZIP file, you’ll get a copy of the unzipped folder on your Explorer.
Are you stuck with a RAR file? Convert it into a ZIP file by visiting https://setapp.com/how-to/convert-rar-to-zip.
Compress Your Files Today
Using file compression is a great way to save space, time, and effort. Also, you don’t need to buy or download apps to compress files on your computer. Almost all Windows and Mac computers already have a built-in feature that allows you to compress your files.
Now, you know the essentials of file compression. If you have other questions or concerns, feel free to share them with us. If you learned something from this guide, you might also enjoy our other content, so check them out now.