Data Compression or compressing of your files and folders do have many advantages. It is a process by which the resources such as disk space and network time can be conserved by reducing the overall size of the files. There are several reasons as to why you might want to compress the files and folders, several of which are good.
Though there are many advantages to the compressing process, there are also some caveats that you should be aware of. These are not really disadvantages of data compression, but more like the scenarios that you can run into and should be aware of. These scenarios can affect the software that you choose to use and the data compression process itself.
Once you have compressed your files and folders, you do require a similar if not the same software that understands the same format to be able to decompress it. A compressed file is not very useful unless you can decompress it when you need it. So, make sure that you have the software that will allow you to decompress the file at a later date and time and on a different machine.
If you plan to transfer the file over to another machine or to another person, then that machine or the person should have access to the same or similar software so that it can be decompressed.
Data compression and decompression are usually very time consuming and resource intensive processes. It will vary depending on the file type and file size. Some software or algorithms are good at compressing files faster, while others are better at decompressing them faster. Also, most times it is a compromise between space and time, as it takes longer to compress better and into smaller sizes.
Though rare, depending on the type of file, sometimes the compressed file might end up being larger than the original file itself. In that case, it defeats the whole purpose of compression. Media files such as jpeg images, audio and video files are good examples of this, as these files are already stored in a compressed form.
Compressed files, usually .zip files are blocked by several email servers. It is because the compressed files cannot be virus checked and hence might be used in as an email virus carrier. If you plan to send the compressed file using email then making sure that your server as well as the recipients’ server can handle compressed files.
There are a couple of additional features that you can make use of while you are compressing files, namely encryption and password protection. These are especially useful if the files you are compressing are sensitive and/or you do not want it decompressed by anybody without a password. Encryption will provide some added security to your files if they are being stored on a server in the cloud.
But remember that if you forget the password that you used when encrypting then it might be near impossible for you to decrypt it and get the files back.
There are several hundreds of formats of compression available. Some are free and widely available while others are proprietary. Make sure to use an algorithm and a software that is widely used and popular so that you can archive the files for a longer period of time. You do not want the software to be obsolete and out of date several years down the road with the vendor no longer in business.
Using a widely popular software and non-proprietary format would mean that several different software would be able to handle it, so even if a particular software is not available, you might still be able to use others at a later date.