What are compressed files?
Every time you try to find the answer to this question, you get hit with complicated, computer mumbo jumbo that’s impossible to understand. How are you supposed to know what a Zip file is?
Don’t worry. The explanation isn’t as complicated as you might think.
We’ve put together this guide (in plain English!) to help you understand what compressed files are. We’ll also walk you through the process of compressing files and show you why you should start doing it more often.
Make sure you keep reading below to get started!
What Are Compressed Files?
Compressed files are files that have been shrunk down to a much smaller size than the original copy.
Does this mean it cuts out important content?
Not at all. When you compress a file, common patterns in that file get replaced with smaller identifiers, depending on what type of algorithm you use. For example, certain words might get replaced with a number or other symbol instead.
Let’s say you use the word “stairway” 27 times in a file. Replacing that word with a * takes up much less space than spelling out eight letters. If you repeat this process with other words, the entire file can significantly shrink in size.
How to Compress a File
You can compress a file in a few quick clicks.
Your computer (or other devices) will use one of the following compression methods: Zip, Gzip, RAR, StuffIt, or 7z. For this example, we’ll show you how to compress a file on a Mac computer, and for this, you’ll likely use Zip. You can learn more about that here: https://setapp.com/how-to/open-tar-gz-file.
Find the file you want to compress and control-click it. After this, you should see a “compress” option in the shortcut menu. All you have to do is click this button and watch your file shrink.
Keep in mind, the file name will change when you do this. While it will keep the original title, it will also have the extension .zip at the end.
What Are the Benefits of Compressing Files and Folders?
Compressing your files gives you a lot of advantages whether you’re doing it on your recreational computer or in the office. We’ve put together a closer look at some of the most important ones.
Take up Less Space
First of all, compressed files, as we touched on above, take up much less space than the original files. In some cases, compressing a file can reduce its size by up to 90%. This makes it much easier to store and saves more space on your hard drive for other content.
Easier to Send Over Email
After a business meeting, you may need to share a large PDF file with the rest of your team or employees. The problem is you can’t send PDFs that are hundreds of pages long in the same email. Without compression, you would have to split it apart and send it in sections.
This can get confusing. Your employees might get the documents out of order, and it’s easy to miss a few pages when sending out a large number of emails.
Compressing your files allows you to send a large document in the same email. Your team can get it quicker, know what they’re looking at, then get back to work.
Improves Employee Productivity
It’s hard for employees to stay productive if they have to spend an hour sorting through a cut-and-spliced document. Sending compressed files keeps everyone on the same page and allows them to focus on their responsibilities instead. The results you get back will be of higher quality, and you will receive them faster than you would without compression.
Helps You Save Money
If you don’t compress your files, you’ll run out of storage space on your computer hard drives or cloud system quickly. That either means you’ll have to pay more money for more space (on the cloud) or buy new hard drives. Both of these options can get expensive, especially if you have to keep paying more money every year or so as your business grows.
Compressing files lets you fit more content in the storage space you already have. You can make it last a lot longer before you have to upgrade with this method.
Are There Any Downsides That Come With File Compression?
There aren’t a lot of downsides to compressing files, but the main thing to be aware of is compressed files require more processor time. Before you can access your file, the computer has to decompress it again so you can read it. This takes some time, so you might not want to compress files you use often.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of File Compression? Everything You Need to Know
So what are compressed files?
Essentially, these files are smaller versions of the original copies. They help you save space on your devices and improve overall productivity in an office setting. There aren’t a lot of downsides to compressing files, so it’s a good idea to start compressing as many files as you can.
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