Memory Compression

What Does Memory Compression Mean?

Memory compression is a memory management technique that reduces the size of inactive data in the random access memory (RAM) to free up unused space and allow more programs to run at once. It is designed to fully use the available physical memory and thereby increase the system’s performance. Memory compression can be applied to computers, smartphones and embedded systems.


Techopedia Explains Memory Compression

Most computer equipment and gadgets have limited amounts of RAM in which to run applications. Memory compression enables the efficient utilization of the entire physical memory so that several programs can run concurrently and efficiently. There are various hardware- and software-based memory management techniques; which to use depends on the operating system, the application and type of computer or gadget.

In memory compression, portions of inactive applications in the memory are compressed to 50% or less of their original size. This frees up the RAM and leaves space for other programs and data. And, because the compression and decompression in the RAM are almost instant, the process saves on time that would otherwise have been used to transfer data between the memory and the computer storage. Memory compression is available for several operating systems such as Windows, Apple OS X, Linux and others. WKdm is a typical dictionary based technique available for most platforms; it combines the dictionary and statistical techniques to provide efficient, fast data compression and decompression operations.

Most memory compression processes are automatic, and only become active when the memory begins to fill up.


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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.