File compression support is one of the features of the NTFS file system that often gets overlooked by Windows users. Its main purpose is to reduce the storage requirements of files on devices that use the NTFS file system. Compression is however handled different from archivers like 7-Zip, WinZip or WinRar, as the compressed files appear like before in the operating system (meaning there is not extension change to indicate a compressed files). This ensures that the files can be used normally by the user, and the operating system.
Making use of this file compression can reduce the storage requirements of files a lot. The highest gains are achieved by compressing formerly uncompressed files, like text documents, emails or executables. The gain is insignificant for files that are already compressed, including jpg photos, mp3 music files, or avi movies.
The option to compress files or folders in Windows is directly available in Windows Explorer. To compress a file or folder perform the following tasks:
The properties window stays open if Apply was selected to complete the compression. The size on disk value will now show the compressed size on the disk. You may notice that this can be considerably less depending on the files selected.
Folders and files can be uncompressed the same way. The only different is that the checkmark in third step of the process needs to be removed.
Please note that it is not advised to compress files and folders that are part of performance intensive tasks. These tasks include gaming, large files that need to be saved and loaded many times throughout the day or files that are used by the operating system.
Compression works best for files that are not used a lot, that are uncompressed and not part of performance intensive tasks. Office documents for instance are perfect for compression.
Windows 7 automatically displays compressed folders in different colors. Other operating systems may not, to change that perform the following operation:
1. Double-click Folder Options in Control Panel.
2. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
3. Click Appearance and Themes, and then click Folder Options.
4. On the View tab, click to select the Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color check box.
Have you experience with NTFS compression? Share it with us in the comments.
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