Compressed File

What Does Compressed File Mean?

A compressed file is any file which is smaller than its
original size and could contain one or more files, or even a directory. A
compressed file has the compressed attribute switched on. Compressed
files have the advantage of being faster to transmit and download, and can allow
more data to be stored in physical or removable media.


Techopedia Explains Compressed File

Examples of compressed file extensions are .RAR, .ZIP and .TAR. A compressed file is created with the help of different file compression techniques which perform mathematical analysis of the data contained in the file and remove redundancies involved. Compressed files are ideal for text, word processor documents, .WAV audio files and spreadsheets. However, compressed files are poorer in quality in the case of graphic files or certain audio and video formats. It is often recommended to check the data contained in the files before creating compressed files.

There are many advantages associated with compressed files. Compressed files can help in saving hard drive space, and are also faster to transmit, download and store. Compressed files are more convenient for faster reading and writing, especially in the case of text or word processor documents.

However, there are a few disadvantages associated with compressed files. Working with a compressed file makes use of more processor time when compared to an uncompressed file, as the process of decompression and recompression is involved. In the case of the Windows operating system, the FAT file system does not support compressed files, and only NTFS file system does. Not all files can be compressed, as some of the files are required by the operating system while starting up. For example, NTLDR and BOOTMGR are file types which should never be compressed.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.