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How to use File Compression - The Complete Guide

File compression lets you decrease the size of your email attachments, make your backups take up less space and make the files you put online download faster. To compress a file you will need to find software that can compress files, and you'll need to learn how to use it. Sounds complicated? Don't worry, in this short article you'll learn everything you need to know about how to compress files!

Choosing The Right Tools

There are lots of applications that can compress files. They are usually called "file archivers" or "archiving software". The speed, efficiency (compression ratio), file formats supported and all the other features vary greatly between various tools. Some archivers are free to use, others are "try before you buy", and some are even integrated in modern operating systems. How do you pick the best archiver for you?

There are several things that you need to consider when looking for a tool to compress files:

Personally, I recommend 7Zip - an open source archiver. As for the ever-so-popular WinZip, I believe it's just not worth the money. ZIP compression is inferior to both RAR and 7Zip, plus almost any archiver can handle .zip files.

How To Compress Files Using 7Zip

Yep, we're finally there - the actual step-by-step instructions on how to compress files! They're written for the free 7Zip application ( because I didn't want to pressure you into buying a commercial application.

  1. Select the file(s) you want to compress and right-click it.
  2. From the popup menu select 7Zip -> Add to archive...
  3. In the dialog box that will appear you need to set the archive name (the topmost textbox) and choose an archive format. The default is 7z, which offers great compression, but beware - if you're going to send the file to a friend or put it online, you should consider choosing the zip format which is better supported by other archivers.
  4. You can also set the compression level; the default is "Normal" and i's okay in most cases.
  5. Click "Ok" and wait while the file is compressed.
  6. Thats it!

Now you know how to compress files and can boast to your friends about it. Just kidding.