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Chris HoffmanEditor-in-Chief

Chris 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 Thủ đô New York Times, been interviewed as a công nghệ expert on TV stations like Miami"s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the Đài truyền hình 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 more...

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


This Option Uses NTFS Compression

RELATED: How to Use NTFS Compression & When You Might Want To

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

The option in a drive’s properties window–open File Explorer or Windows Explorer, right-click a drive, và select “Properties” lớn find it–allows you lớn apply NTFS compression to lớn all the files on a drive and all the files you add khổng lồ 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 file. However, it’s entirely transparent. In other words, you’ll still be able lớn access all the files on your drive 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 to lớn vị 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 sầu, reading a compressed file might actually be faster.


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

How Much Space Will I Actually Save?

So is it worth it? That’s a good question, and 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 and the additional compression won’t vì much.

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On the other hand, 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 inlớn .zip files, too, of course.)

But the NTFS compression algorithm is optimized to lớn be more speedy & lightweight, so it compresses less than similar file compression algorithms. In 2011, Tom’s Hardware did a benchmark & found that enabling NTFS compression for a Windows system drive shrunk the drive sầu from an original kích cỡ of 70.9 GB to lớn a compressed kích thước of 58.4 GB, for a 17.6% space savings. The exact space savings will depover on your drive sầu 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 sầu 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 sầu 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 khổng lồ 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 tệp tin access times down in some cases.

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

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

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

We’re being a bit skeptical of NTFS compression here, although we’ve sầu 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 lớn 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 giải pháp công nghệ for over a decade & 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 like Miami"s NBC 6, và had his work covered by news outlets like the 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 Full Bio »
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