Compact is a handy tool that ships with Windows that you may use to compress files or directories on NTFS partitions.
While you may notice a performance dip on old systems with weak processors, there is little in terms of performance loss when you work with compressed folders and files on machines with modern CPUs.
You find an overview of the compact command on Microsoft's Technet website.
CompactGUI is a graphical user interface version of the compact command. The core difference between compact on the command line and CompactGUI, besides the obvious, is that CompactGUI supports compressing folders only. If you need to compress individual files, you cannot use the program.
The application itself can be run without installation. The program does require the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.7 however so keep that in mind when running it. The program is designed for Windows 10, and recent versions of the operating system come with that .NET Framework version.
The interface of CompactGUI is divided into three parts:
The program will compress the root folder and all files in subfolders automatically using the "better compression" option.
You can switch that to best or most compact to recover more space, or to fastest to speed up the operation. The arguments that you may enable are self-explanatory for the most part. Note that the last option was not available in the test version on a Windows 10 Pro device.
What kind of gains can you expect from compacting folders and files within? This depends largely on the type of files. The developer compressed the Adobe Photoshop folder and cut its size in half by doing so. He compressed the Portal 2 game folder, and managed to reduce the size by 4 Gigabytes to 7.88 Gigabytes.
The developer of the program published a list of games and programs on the GitHub project website that highlight the savings when using compact.
The size reduction is less impressive for files that are heavily compressed already. You may not see much of a difference when you try to compress archives for instance or most media formats.
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