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File compression can save space; this is true in the simplest sense. Below, we provide some general guidelines for employing compression, and some links to useful compression software.
- We use the term compression and archiving interchangeably. When some files are compressed, an archive file is created: this archive file is a collection of compressed files.
- File compression can really help the small-space data hoarder. One can easily fit tens of thousands of books, thousands of images and hundreds of full-length movies on a 128GB flash drive, if the files are compressed.
- Most compression software allows one to compress and encrypt, such that a password is required to open the compressed archive. AES-256 is generally used.
- Compression works best on text data (.pdf, .txt, .doc, .html, .js, etc.). Compression on videos takes considerable time, and often does not result in any appreciable size reduction; the same can be said of images, but to a lesser degree. This is due to the general compression algorithm used, which eliminates redundant data: in texts, redundancies are common; but within videos/images with a lot of variance in the pixels, redundant data is rare. Having said this, compression can still save considerable space on videos and images, if one is amenable to the time requirement.
- When uploading one's own torrent, it is generally considered bad practice to upload it as a compressed archive. This is because potential seeders are unable to view the contents of the archive until it is fully downloaded. However, this does prevent one's peers from picking and choosing which fragments of the torrent they would like to download, so one can ensure other peers will seed the torrent in its entirety to others.
- For compressing video files, research HEVC/H.265. It is a codec which boasts very high file size reduction.
- Most operating systems come pre-installed with a compression/archiving tool: Windows has WinZip and *nix systems have tar. Below we mention third-party tools.
- 7-Zip: 7-Zip is the fastest compression tool available commonly. It is entirely free and available for Windows and Linux. We recommend it highly.
- WinRAR: WinRAR is the most common compression tool for Windows systems; but it is not free. One can simply click the "no" button to ignore the trial expiration, however.
- PeaZip: PeaZip is similar to WinRar and 7-Zip. It is free and available for every platform.
- KGB Archiver: KGB Archiver purportedly has very fast compression speeds. It can be used on Windows (one must search for an executable file), though it is likely that it will be used mostly by Linux users who seek to compile their own programs.