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Chris HoffmanEditor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He"s written about giải pháp công nghệ for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The Thành Phố New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations lượt thích Miami"s NBC 6, và had his work covered by news outlets like the Đài truyền hình BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have sầu been read nearly one billion times---& that"s just here at How-To Geek. Read more...

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UpdatedJul 10, 2017, 9:47 pm EDT| 3 min read
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mở cửa a drive’s properties window, và you’ll see an option lớn “compress this drive to lớn save disk space” on Windows. But how much disk space will you save, & what’s the catch?


This Option Uses NTFS Compression

RELATED: How khổng lồ Use NTFS Compression and When You Might Want To

Windows uses the NTFS file system, and NTFS has a built-in compression feature that allows you to compress individual files và folders.

The option in a drive’s properties window–open File Explorer or Windows Explorer, right-click a drive, and select “Properties” lớn find it–allows you lớn apply NTFS compression khổng lồ all the files on a drive & all the files you add to it in the future.

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Will This Slow Down My Computer?

NTFS compression works similarly to other types of compression, lượt thích zipping a tệp tin. However, it’s entirely transparent. In other words, you’ll still be able to access all the files on your drive sầu normally after flipping this option. Windows handles the compression in the background.

Will it slow file access times down? Well, that depends. When you load a compressed tệp tin, the CPU has lớn vì more work decompressing it. However, that compressed tệp tin is smaller on the disk, so your computer can load the compressed data from disk faster. On a computer with a fast CPU but a slow hard drive, reading a compressed tệp tin might actually be faster.


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However, it certainly slows down write operations. Even if you’re just copying a file khổng lồ another folder, the computer has khổng lồ load the compressed tệp tin, decompress it, move it khổng lồ the other thư mục, & compress it again it before writing it khổng lồ the drive.

How Much Space Will I Actually Save?

So is it worth it? That’s a good question, & there’s no ironclad answer. It depends on the types of files you’ll be compressing.

If the drive sầu contains files that are already compressed or just don’t compress well, you won’t save sầu much space. For example, if you compress a drive full of .zip files, those .zip files are already compressed files và the additional compression won’t vì chưng much.

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On the other h&, if you compress a drive sầu full of text files (.txt files), you’ll likely see huge space savings. (You’d see similar huge space savings by compressing those .txt files into lớn .zip files, too, of course.)

But the NTFS compression algorithm is optimized to be more speedy and lightweight, so it compresses less than similar tệp tin compression algorithms. In 2011, Tom’s Hardware did a benchmark và found that enabling NTFS compression for a Windows system drive sầu shrunk the drive from an original kích cỡ of 70.9 GB khổng lồ a compressed form size of 58.4 GB, for a 17.6% space savings. The exact space savings will depkết thúc on your drive and the files on it.

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Should I Use This Feature?

If you have sầu a computer with a slower CPU, you should probably avoid this option. This is especially true on slow laptops & tablets. That’s unfortunate because a cheap Windows notebook or tablet will often have a small amount of storage, making this option tempting. But that slower CPU means enabling compression will tax your system & slow things down.


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If you have a computer with a faster CPU, you can probably enable this option fairly safely. Your CPU can keep up with the compression. But if you’re buying or building a speedy computer, you’re probably better off buying a larger drive–or a secondary drive–so you can store more files without having lớn compress them. A larger drive will give you much more space than enabling compression would, anyway, và usually pretty cheaply.

Plus, even if you have a computer with a fast CPU, your computer’s CPU may be busy when it comes time lớn read or write files. This could slow file access times down in some cases.

This option can be enabled on USB flash drives & other external hard drives lớn save a bit of space, but–again–getting a larger drive is probably a better solution.

RELATED: How to Stress Test the Hard Drives in Your PC or Server

You won’t actually know how much space you’ll save sầu & how the performance is different unless you actually enable the option và benchmark it on your files and hardware. Even after performing such benchmarks và seeing good results in an artificial situation, you might see slowdowns if your CPU is busy and you need lớn read or write files.

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We’re being a bit skeptical of NTFS compression here, although we’ve heard reports that it works very well in certain situations. If you have sầu a files that compress very well, it can save you a lot of space and potentially be very worthwhile. But you may want khổng lồ compress only those files instead of an entire drive.


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Chris HoffmanChris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He"s written about công nghệ for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations lượt thích Miami"s NBC 6, và had his work covered by news outlets lượt thích the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times---& that"s just here at How-To Geek. Read Full Bio »