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Chapter 33. Managing the Hard Disk > Compression: How It Works, How to Use It

Compression: How It Works, How to Use It

Windows 2000 ships with built-in provision for file compression that is implemented via NTFS. It's not strictly true that only NTFS files and folders can be compressed because a command-line program called compress can compress FAT-based files and folders. However, you must, in turn, use the expand command to decompress the resulting files and folders before you can use them. This procedure is awkward. So, for practical purposes, compression is implemented seamlessly into the operating system only on NTFS-formatted volumes.

File compression works by encoding data to take up less storage space. Digital data is compressed by finding repeatable patterns of binary 0s and 1s. The more patterns found, the more the data can be compressed. Text can generally be compressed to about 40 percent of its original size and graphics files from 20 to 90 percent. Some files (namely .EXE files) compress very little because of the lack of repeating data patterns within the program. The amount of compression depends entirely on the type of file and compression algorithm used.


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