Compressing files can help you reduce the overall footprint of the file making it easier to share or upload to cloud. Sending a 100MB file or 500MB file, which one is faster? Obviously less size means less time for upload and also consume less space and data for the transfer.
There can be many reasons why you need to compress files. One main reason, is when you need to upload files to the cloud. You can save time uploading and also since the files are compressed, it will require less space than the uncompressed files. It’s also easy to attach compressed file with emails.
You might have come across some common compressed file formats like zip and rar. This is the most commonly used compression methods. Windows computers has inbuilt support for ZIP files. Also have you seen an option to download email attachment as Zip file in Gmail?
Why compress files?
Save Time? You save a time when uploading. Especially when you have a slow internet connection, it could take forever to upload files online. Also if the file is pretty large, it could take time to upload. But if you compress the files and then upload, you can save time while uploading. Also it would be easier for the person downloading it. They have to download a smaller file compared to the original file.
But you may ask, what about the time required to compress files? Well yeah…It does take some time to compress files based on the file type and the compression algorithm. But would you rather upload and larger file or smaller file? For me I don’t mind wasting some time offline for compressing and then uploading it.
Save bandwidth while Uploading/Downloading: You can save internet data when you upload or download smaller compressed files. If you have a limited data plan, you can first compress files before uploading it or sharing with others. It would be easier to remotely share files when its compressed.
Security and Ease of Managing Files: If you need to send a group of files to someone or need to save it somewhere, you can compress the files/folders into a compressed file. This means that you can send the single compressed file instead of sending all the individual files. You could better manage your files this way.
Also most of the compression software allows you to encrypt the compressed file with a password. So if you need to store files securely or want to send some confidential file with someone, you can simply compress it with a password. Only if you have the password, the file can be extracted.
Compressing Different File Formats
Compression ratio is the ratio between a file before compression and after compression. Compression ratio can vary with file formats. Not all the file formats can be highly compressed.
You might have seen that there are lots of articles on How to Highly Compress Files from 10GB to 10MB and all. These kinds of results cannot be obtained for all kinds of files and file types. So Is this true? Well kind of…. I have myself downloaded a similar file and tested out the compression ratio myself. You can achieve these kind of compression only when all the files are purely raw and uncompressed.
Disclaimer: You can’t compress all kinds of file from 10GB to 100MB. But you can obtain good compression with certain techniques.
Many formats that we commonly used are already in the compressed format. These kinds of files cannot be compressed further. Also keep in mind that there is no point in compressing an already compressed file.
How to Highly Compress a 1GB file to 100KB File (Proof Attached)
I told that you can highly compress large files to very small size. Here is how I compressed 1 GB file into just 100KB file using WinRAR. Don’t believe me? Here is the proof:
But let me tell you how I was able to achieve this level of compression. Here you can see
Original file size: 1GB
Compressed File size: 100KB
Compression Ratio: ~0%
Wait….WTF? Here is the RAR file info:
Well the 1GB file that I used for the test is a dummy file which I created using the Dummy File Creator. The file doesn’t have any values in it. This is why we were able to achieve this level of compression.
So what did you learn from the above test? Can someone compress a very large file into a very small file? The answer is Yes. But can you compress files with some of the common file formats like jpg, mp4, pdf, txt, etc with this compression ratio? No you can’t. Read How to Change download location in Google Chrome for Android.
How to Highly Compress Files into Smaller Size
Now let us get into the practical side of things. We don’t compress files without any info in it, we need to compress some of the most commonly used type of files or files we use on our computer or phone. You won’t be able to get very high compression ratio with some file types. It differs based on the file format.
We are going to see some of the most commonly used file formats and some of the best and most popular file compression software that you can use. I’ll try to compare them and hopefully find the best for compressing files.
Some commonly used file compression software: WinRAR, 7Zip, PeaZip, WinArc etc
How to Compress Files Using Different Compression Software
For Reference, I am using a pdf file and few psd(Photoshop Document) files. Here is the original size of these files before compression. Compression Ratio and time will also depend on the computer configuration. File compression can be very intensive process when you go for very high compression algorithms. If the system is highly capable, you can get good compression with less time.
Test.pdf file: 58.2 MB
PSD Files (5 Files): 268MB
Now let us see how well the available file compression tools and formats perform. I am going to test only some of the most popular file compression formats and tools.
How to Highly Compress Files Using WinRAR
WinRAR is undoubtedly the most popular file compression software. The files will be compressed into a format caller .rar. RAR file compression offers pretty good compression depending on the file type. WinRAR recently introduced WinRAR5 which introduced a new rar5 compression algorithm which gives more compression compared to normal rar algorithm.
Step 1: Download and Install WinRAR if you don’t already have it.
Step 2: Once done, you can find the folder or file and then right click to open the context menu.
Step 3: Click on Add to archive which brings up the WinRAR UI.
Step 4: Here is where you can change the compression settings to get the maximum possible compression. There are two main options that we need to change: Archive Format, Compression Method and Dictionary Size.
Step 5: For the maximum compression change the attributes as shown:
Archive Type: RAR5
Compression Method: Best
Dictionary Size: 4096 KB
If your system isn’t that capable, don’t increase the dictionary size above 1024 KB as it might cause the system to stop responding.
Also make sure you are not running any other application in the background when compressing files using these settings as they require lot of resource.
RAR5 is a relatively new kind of format which is supported by WinRAR and you would need to have WinRAR in order to extract the file as well. So if you need more compatibility, you can stick with the normal RAR archive type. But you wouldn’t be getting compression ratios as you would be using RAR5.
In RAR5 the maximum compression dictionary size is increased to 1GB which gives it an edge over RAR4.
Test.pdf file: 4.62 MB
PSD Files: 55.7 MB
How to Highly Compress Files Using 7-Zip
7-Zip is a great contender when it comes to file compression ratios. 7-Zip is free and open source. It uses its own proprietary format .7z for compressed files. There are few different compression algorithms available in 7-Zip. We are going to see the best setting to achieve the best compression using 7-Zip.
“Usually, 7-Zip compresses to 7z format 30–70% better than to zip format” – Wikipedia
Step 1: Download and Install 7-Zip.
Step 2: Once installation is completed, you can select the files/folder to compress and then right click to open the context menu.
Step 3: Select 7-Zip and then Add to archive to bring up the compression setup UI where we can configure the compression options.
Step 4: Change the settings to what is shown below to get the maximum compression using 7-Zip:
Archive Format: 7z
Compression Level: Ultra
Compression Method: LZMA2
Dictionary Size: Choose the max
Test.pdf file: 3.77 MB
PSD Files: 48.8 MB
How to Highly Compress files using FreeArc
Arc is another compression format that was developed by FreeArc. It is a free and open source file compression tool that can be used to highly compress large files to small size. The compression rates you would get by using FreeArc is pretty good. It supports different compression algorithms like zip, 7z, rar, ace, uharc, ccm, etc.
You could achieve decent compression using FreeArc but it’s not that widely used for compression. So you might have compatibility issues when shared online to others. They would require to install any arc supported compression tool to decompress the files.
Compared to arc, rar and 7z are more popular and widely used.
Step 1: Download and Install FreeArc.
Step 2: Open FreeArc and Select the files/folder to compress.
Step 3: Click on Add or press Ctrl + A. New window will appear with some options. Under the Compression tab, choose Maximum Compression Level.
Step 4: Click on Ok to start creating the archive file.
Test.pdf file: 3.84MB
PSD Files: 49.6 MB
How to Highly Compress files using UHARC
This is the most popular kind of compression method among those who RIP PC games. Have you come across game setups that are highly compressed? Most of them use UHARC compression to gain such high compression ratios. The compressed file format will be “.uha”.
Most UHARC compression and decompression is done using command line to get the most compression. But we do have a GUI version of UHARC compression tool called WinUHA. That is what we are going to use today.
UHARC is going to take more time than others as it can offer higher compression rates. Also the decompression would take some time too. It a bit outdated, but I’ll show How to compress using UHARC anyway.
Step 1: Download and Install WinUHA.
Step 2: Open WinUHA and Navigate to the directory and select the files/folders to compress.
Step 3: Click on Add selected. You will see an UI where you can make changes to the compression. Choose ALZ-3 in the compression section. Check the Multimedia Compression checkbox if you have multimedia files.
Step 4: Click on OK to start compressing.
Test.pdf file: 3.95 MB
PSD Files: 68.3 MB
You wouldn’t get much differences in the compression ratio with all these tools. They would differ only slightly. So the next thing we have look is how popular the format is and how much time does it take to decompress the files. RAR and 7-Zip files extract a bit faster compared to other formats.
Here are the test results that i got during my tests. This tests are done from within a normal users context.
Compression Results for the PDF File:
File size before compression: 58.2 MB
|Name||PDF file (MB)||Compression Ratio|
Compression Results for the PSD Files:
File size before compression: 268 MB
|Name||PSD Files (MB)||Compression Ratio|
Lower the compression ratio, the smaller the size.
Here you can see that there is not much of a difference in these compression methods. But when the source is larger, the difference might be more visible.
Some Other Softwares worth Checking
PeaZip is another famous file compression software which supports a few compression methods. The software has a fresh and clean interface. PeaZip is again free and open source like 7-Zip. PeaZip can extract 7-Zip and rar files and also supports more than 180 file formats.
You can download PeaZip.
File compression is a great way to save space and bandwidth. You can share compressed files easily over the internet. Always keep in mind that compression ratio will depend upon the type of file. If the file is already compressed like jpg or mp4, then it cannot be further compressed.
So there are many websites where you can download content that are highly compressed like 20GB to 20MB. But keep in mind that these kind of files doesn’t have any guarantee whether it will work. I’ve shown you its possible to highly compress files, but not necessary useful files and formats can be compressed this heavily.