How to Use File Compression Feature in Windows

We often encounter the problem of insufficient disk space in our Windows computers. But what if we told you that you could free up some disk space without letting go of any of your files? Yes, this is entirely possible with Windows’ file compression feature that deletes redundant data in files to free up disk space. These files work like usual and can be efficiently utilized by apps. This article will discuss how to use the File compression feature in Windows.

How to Use File Compression Feature in Windows

What Is File Compression Feature In Windows, And How Does It Work?

File compression is a handy feature available in the Windows operating system, specifically designed to help you save precious disk space by reducing the size of your files. This feature works seamlessly with the NTFS file system, commonly used on hard drives formatted for Windows.

The magic behind file compression lies in removing redundant data from a file without compromising its integrity or losing critical information. This process, known as lossless compression, ensures that your files remain fully functional and accessible even after they’ve been compressed.

One of the remarkable aspects of file compression in Windows is its transparency. When you compress a file or folder using this feature, it remains compatible with all your installed apps. These applications can access and work with compressed data like uncompressed files. However, it’s essential to note that compressed files and folders are only compatible with the NTFS file system. If you need to transfer these files to a drive using FAT or exFAT file systems, you must decompress them first.

Now that you understand what the file compression feature in Windows is and how it works, let’s dive into how you can use this powerful tool to maximize your storage space and optimize your computer’s performance.

Compress Files To Save Disk Space in Windows

In this section, we’ll go over two methods to compress files and save disk space in Windows. Here’s all that’s covered:

  1. Using Advanced Attributes in the Properties Window For A File Or Folder
  2. Enabling File Compression For An Entire Drive
  3. Using Compact.exe in Command Prompt

Let’s now have a detailed look at both of these methods.

1] Using Advanced Attributes in the Properties Window For A File Or Folder

File compression can be enabled for an entire folder, particular file, or drive-through file explored. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open File Explorer and locate the folder you want to compress.
  • Right-click on the folder and select Properties from the context menu that appears.
  • In the Properties window, navigate to the General tab and click the Advanced button at the bottom right corner.
  • A new window titled Advanced Attributes will appear. Look for the section labeled Compress or Encrypt attributes.
  • Check the box next to Compress contents to save disk space to enable file compression for your selected folder.
  • Click OK to close the Advanced Attributes window, then click OK again in the Properties window.Compress Files In Windows Using Advanced Attributes In Folder Properties
  • A confirmation dialogue box will pop up, asking you to verify that you want to compress your chosen folder.
  • By default, Windows will have already selected the option Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files. Simply click on OK since this is what we want.

From now on, every file or folder added to your compressed folder will also be automatically compressed. If you wish to compress an individual file instead of an entire folder, follow steps 1 through 4 above for that specific file.

2] Enabling File Compression For An Entire Drive

If you want to maximize your storage space by compressing an entire drive, follow these steps:

  • Open This PC in File Explorer and locate the drive you wish to compress.
  • Right-click on the drive and select Properties from the context menu that appears.
  • In the Properties window, navigate to the General tab.
  • Look for the option labeled Compress this drive to save disk space and tick the box next to it.
  • Click on OK to apply the changes.Compress An Entire Drive using the properties in Windows
  • A confirmation dialogue box will appear, asking you to verify that you want to compress the entire drive and its contents. The option to compress the drive and all its contents will be selected by default – click OK.

Your selected drive, including its files, folders, and subfolders, is now compressed. Every file and folder added to this compressed drive will be automatically compressed.

3] Using Compact.exe in Command Prompt

Compact.exe is a handy Windows utility designed to reduce the size of files and folders on storage drives that utilize the NTFS file system without losing any data. This tool employs advanced compression algorithms, such as XPRESS4K, XPRESS8K, XPRESS16K, and LZX, to compress files while ensuring their contents remain accessible. Here’s how to use it.

  • Open Command Prompt
  • If you want to compress a single file or a folder, type the following command structure:
compact [file/folder path]

Replace [file/folder path] with the path to the file you want to compress.

  • By default, compact.exe uses the XPRESS4K algorithm. To specify a different algorithm for either file or folder compression, use this command structure:
compact /exe:[algorithm] [file/folder path]

Replace [algorithm] with your desired algorithm (e.g., XPRESS8K) and [file/folder path] with the respective file or folder’s pathUsing Compact exe to compress files and folders in WIndows

  1. Press Enter, and compact.exe will compress your chosen file or folder and display the results.

Conclusion:

In this article, we discussed how to use the file compression feature in Windows. An adequate amount of disk space is crucial for our Windows computers to function correctly. Using simple features built into the operating system, users can save disk space and ensure the optimal functioning of their systems.

Should I Enable File Compression?

Enabling file compression in Windows can save disk space, improve file transfer speeds, enhance backup efficiency, and reduce bandwidth usage. However, it can also increase CPU usage, cause longer access times, result in losing file details, and potentially encounter compatibility issues with specific applications or older operating systems.

Whether or not you should enable file compression depends on your specific needs and circumstances, such as available disk space, system performance, file types, and compatibility requirements. Consider these factors to make an informed decision.

Ojasv Jain
He has a keen interest in Technology, Online Tools, Windows, Troubleshooting, and anything when it comes to Windows OS.

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