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One New Thing
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
 
One New Thing: The adverse affects of compression on a hard disk.

I had an entry a few weeks ago about file compression, and at the time I also read something somewhere about it being great to save space but not good to use on some kinds of files. Investigating this today I went straight to the horse’s mouth (that would be Microsoft) and read this article on Best Practices for NTFS Compression in Windows (NTFS is the file system I’m using. I know this because if I check the Properties of C drive it says NTFS. I still haven’t gotten around to learning what the differences between file systems are…must get to that!) What I have determined is that when you compress a file, it still has to be uncompressed before you can use it – much like you have to unzip a zipped file, really – a process which can decrease performance. Compressing all the data, including the program files, on an individual PC hasn’t seemed to make a noticeable difference to me, but used on servers I can imagine it would make things much slower, as the article says. But it seems it is fine to compress the contents of your own computer and save space – some of my folders are now only two-thirds the size they were when uncompressed.

I wonder if zipping files on a compressed drive makes them any smaller?

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