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Is It Possible to Make ZIP Files Smaller?

Posted by Jessie Richardson on July 15, 2019
is it possible to make zip files smaller

ZIP file is the oldest and most popular compression method that can group your files for safe storage and distribution. Although compression should shrink the files and make them smaller, that’s not always the case.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple method to make a ZIP file smaller. Once you squeeze the files to their minimum size, you can’t squeeze them again. So zipping a zipped file won’t do anything, and on some occasions, it can make the size even bigger.

However, there are other compressing methods that are more effective than ZIP. First, you should know which files are suitable for compression. Second, you may either use some zipping alternatives or split the zip into smaller files. You will see how to do all that in this article.

You Can’t Successfully Compress Everything

Although some files can compress well and save you a decent amount of storage space, there are certain files that don’t compress well. For example, audio and video files such as JPEG or MP3 files since they are already heavily compressed. However, you can shrink image files like TIFF or RAW or AIFF and WAV for audio because they are all lossless (uncompressed) formats.

New text document formats such as Microsoft Office’s DOCX are also compressed, but you can squeeze some other textual formats like TXT and RTF. But considering that these formats are originally very lightweight, there’s usually no need to compress them.

Since ZIP is a very old compression format, it won’t compress as well as some newer ones. If you really want to save storage space or make your files easier to send via the internet, you should look at other compression tools.

Download Newer Compressing Tools

ZIP is still a very popular compression method because newer operating systems have a built-in feature that can recognize and decompress these files, so there’s no need to download additional software. However, if you would like a more efficient way to shrink certain files, you should get a different tool.

The most efficient and commonly used compressing tools today include:

  1. WinRAR – WinRAR makes RAR archives instead of ZIP files. These archives have a higher compression rate and take a lot less time to upload or download. With this tool, you can also create better-compressed ZIP files.
  2. 7zip – 7z format is similar to RAR. The tool has almost the same features where you can choose the compression level, method, and dictionary size (the bigger the size the more compressed the file). You can also use it to make regular ZIP files.
  3. Zpaq – Zpaq is a free and open source archiver that supports all popular operating systems. It has some more complex features, and tech-savvy users prefer it to archive their files.

Compressing Options

Most of these ZIP alternatives have similar compressing options. Let’s focus on WinRAR and see why it’s better than regular ZIP compression.

When you open WinRAR, choose a folder or a file that you want to compress and click the ‘Add’ button from the file menu. A new window will open with various options.

Compressing Options

  1. Archive Format: Here you can choose your archive type – RAR (or 7z for 7zip) or ZIP. RAR archives compress the files better, so you can save some additional storage space. If you want to share your file and you’re unsure if the recipient can unpack the RAR, always choose ZIP.
  2. Under the ‘Compression Method’ menu, you can choose how fast you want to create the archive. The slower you go, the better the compression. If you choose the ‘Store’ option, it will compress it in the quickest way possible, but if you choose the ‘Best’ option, you’ll have to wait.
  3. Dictionary Size: Usually, if your dictionary size is bigger, you’ll have more compression. However, most users say that there’s a point after which the difference is negligible, but the compression goes much slower, so you shouldn’t go above 1024KB.

There are tools with some additional features. For example, if you’re using 7zip, you can choose the Word Size (similar to dictionary size) and the Solid Block Size (keeps similar-sized files together).

By compressing your folders to some of these archive formats using the appropriate features, you can shrink large files to up to one-fourth or even one-fifth of their uncompressed size.

Splitting the ZIP File

You can use the same tools to separate a single ZIP archive into a bunch of smaller archives. This will not make your file smaller, but it will allow you to share it in smaller parts to other users. This is beneficial if you have limited storage, bandwidth, or a very large single file you want to share.

Usually, this option is in the same menu with all the features from the previous section. All you have to do is to choose ZIP as an archive format and locate the ‘Split to volumes’ option.

Splitting the ZIP File

The ‘Split to volumes’ option allows you to choose an exact size of each archive, which will then start the compression and splitting process. Once it finishes, you will need to store all the parts of a ZIP archive in the same folder. Later, when you start extracting them, you only need to click on one of the archives and all the parts will automatically be merged together.

Squeeze Every Byte

Most of the file formats that are necessary to a regular user are already compressed. As technology develops, there will probably be notably fewer files that will require compressing. Until then, it would be better to use third-party tools to compress your archives.

With these tools, you can utilize compression to the max, and also split one archive to a lot of smaller ones. Both of these options will help you while storing, transferring, or sharing the files online.

What is your preferred compression format? Which tool do you use to compress your files for easier online transfer? Let us know in the comments below.

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