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File compression pros and cons: what you need to know


This quick guide outlines file compression advantages and disadvantages to consider in organising and streamlining your office operations.

If you are a web user, you have probably come across files in a compressed format. Most of these files are attachments you receive on email or downloads you get over the web. The technique that zips files into one folder like that is called file compression.

What is File Compression?

File compression is a data compression technique that works on reducing file sizes to free up disk space. It works by reducing the size of the file while preserving the original data. A compressed file will take up 50%-90% less disk space than leaving it in its original format. The technique uses a mathematical algorithm that is responsible for encoding compression and decompression of data.

There are two types of compression algorithm:

  • Lossy
  • Lossless

a. Lossy

A lossy compression algorithm does not bring data back to its original form. The size of the compressed files is also smaller than the original files. It is used for music, videos, photos, fax machines, scanned documents, and medical images where redundant data is deleted to achieve size reduction. The most common file formats for lossy compression are MP3 and JPEG.

One of the benefits of using the lossy compression technique is the significant reduction in file size. However, the downside is that with the decline in file size, data quality also reduces. There are plugins like Adobe Acrobat and software available to help you choose the degree of compression.

b. Lossless

In a lossless compression algorithm, data is restored to its original form with no data loss during the decompression process. In this case, redundant data will go un-deleted, and the compressed file size reduces by a small percentage compared to the original file size. Lossless file compression is used for databases, emails, office documents, and spreadsheets. The most common file formats for this type of compression are PNG, FLAC, and ZIP.

The most significant benefit of lossless compression is you can retain the quality of data and still achieve a reduction in file size. When you compress PDFs using the Adobe tool, the software lets you drag and drop files into the compression box to reduce the size but not compromise quality. The downside is you cannot compress larger files as you would do with lossy compression type.

Pros and Cons of File Compression: what you need to know

Advantages of File Compression

1. Free up disk space

The first benefit of compression is preserving disk space. When you need free disk space, try file compression. However, you should determine which files to compress; if they are files you often access, understand that the process will take longer through decompression and compression.

2. Improve Transmission Speed

The amount of time it takes to send a file over the internet depends on its size. Compressing a file simplifies sending it over the internet because it contains fewer bits of data than uncompressed files. Compressing larger files can save you time and financial cost because you will spend less sending massive files over the internet when in compressed formats.

3. Optimize Backup Storage

With compression, you can reduce the storage size you use for data copies. Zip backup, for example, reduces storage size for data copies; you can use it by compressing your backups to zip files.

4. Secure and Preserve file integrity

If you have ever experienced file corruption during transfer over the internet, you will appreciate file compression. When you compress your files, you can preserve data integrity while sending them over the internet. Also, since file compression hides information, you can hide information securely in zipped files.

5. Save Money

The cost of storing your data and files is high when you have a vast inventory. With file compression, you can save up to50% of the price you would have used to purchase extra hard drives. You also can save money in internet download charges when you download compressed files.

Disadvantages of File Compression

1. Low Memory

Compressed files require extra memory to decompress; thus, your computer must use more memory to complete the task. It can either pause or run into an error when the memory is low.

2. Time Wasting

Decompressing files takes a lot of time; larger files take longer. If you want to access a file quickly, a compressed file will slow you down.

3. Viruses and Malware are hiding in compressed files

If you download compressed files over the internet or in email attachments, the computer will not scan them. Chances are they could carry harmful viruses that can harm your computer once you decompress the files.

4. Need for specific decompressing programs

One requires an appropriate decompressing program to access data in a compressed file. Usually, such programs are not easy to come by on the system or internet.


File compression has its advantages and disadvantages, where the bad is majorly technical difficulties. If you can overcome this, the initiative to compress PDFs and other files will save you lots of storage space, speed, and money for your file transfers.

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