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Have a small hard drive and a lot of data? No need to be embarrassed, you are not alone! In this guide you’ll learn how to compress the data on your drive; thus, saving space–with little to no side effects.

Important Note: There are arguments both ways, but I personally recommend you do not compress data on your system drive/partition. You have been warned.

Your Drive Needs NTFS

Ensure your drive is formatted with NTFS. If you know it is, skip down to More about NTFS Compression

Checking the File System of Your Drive

If you have Windows Vista, XP, 2000, or NT, you will likely be using NTFS on your drive. Check by doing the following:

  • Open (My) Computer [WinKey+E]
  • Right click on the drive letter you want to check and select Properties

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 1

  • Next to File System: look for NTFS
  • If it says FAT32, or anything else, then you are best to forget this guide exists, unless you know what you’re doing

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 2

More about NTFS Compression

NTFS Compression is extremly efficient; generally, read access does not slow down as decompression is done in real time.

Please note the following:

  • Encrypted data cannot be compressed
  • I strongly discourage compressing your Operating System drive
  • You can compress a whole drive/partition

How to Use NTFS Compression

Compressing Individual Folders/Files

1. Right click on the folder/file and select Properties

2. Now click Advanced…

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 3

3. Check Compress contents to save disk space

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 4

4. Press OK

5. Press OK on the properties screen. If you compressed a folder, you will be prompted to apply changes to the folder or the folder and subfolders.

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 5

Windows will spend some time compressing the data. After sometime (depending on folder/file) size, thew folder/file will be compressed. The name will change from black to blue in explorer mode.

Folder Before

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 6

Folder After

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 7

Note: There is a large change because this folder contains a lot of Bitmaps, which compress very well. Your results may vary.

Compressing a Whole Drive/Partition

Before we begin, here’s one last warning: I strongly discourage compressing your Operating System drive.

1. Open (My) Computer [WinKey+E]
2. Right click on the drive letter you want to check and select Properties
3. Check Compress drive to save disk space

Save Hard Drive Space with NTFS Compression 8

4. Press OK and get comfortable while your data is compressed!



About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

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Comments

  • shehab6003

    so i will compress the hole partition but when i nedd to open anything on the partition how long it’s gonna take for uncompressing ??

  • so i will compress the hole partition but when i nedd to open anything on the partition how long it’s gonna take for uncompressing ??

  • so i will compress the hole partition but when i nedd to open anything on the partition how long it’s gonna take for uncompressing ??

  • Rich

    It will take longer, but you shouldn’t even notice a time difference. Just be sure you aren’t compressing you OS’s partition (usually C)

  • It will take longer, but you shouldn’t even notice a time difference. Just be sure you aren’t compressing you OS’s partition (usually C)

  • It will take longer, but you shouldn’t even notice a time difference. Just be sure you aren’t compressing you OS’s partition (usually C)

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  • William Throop

    I have quite a few (4000 or so) mp3’s on my drive, would compressing that folder be ok in you opinion, what happens when I add new files to that folder? are they automaticly compressed when added?

  • William Throop

    I have quite a few (4000 or so) mp3’s on my drive, would compressing that folder be ok in you opinion, what happens when I add new files to that folder? are they automaticly compressed when added?

  • William Throop

    I have quite a few (4000 or so) mp3’s on my drive, would compressing that folder be ok in you opinion, what happens when I add new files to that folder? are they automaticly compressed when added?

  • Rich

    William, MP3s are so well compressed already that you will not see much space savings. If you compress a folder, newly added files are automatically compressed.

  • William, MP3s are so well compressed already that you will not see much space savings. If you compress a folder, newly added files are automatically compressed.

  • William, MP3s are so well compressed already that you will not see much space savings. If you compress a folder, newly added files are automatically compressed.

  • Susan D’Andrilli

    Thank you.

  • Susan D’Andrilli

    Thank you.

  • Susan D’Andrilli

    Thank you.

  • John

    i have only 1 hard drive my operating system is also on it but i have only used this computer for about 4 months and i have already used 250 GB of my 581 i am thinking about compressing it but i am not sure that is safe……….. what are your suggestions and will it wipe out my files???

  • John

    i have only 1 hard drive my operating system is also on it but i have only used this computer for about 4 months and i have already used 250 GB of my 581 i am thinking about compressing it but i am not sure that is safe……….. what are your suggestions and will it wipe out my files???

    • I highly recommend you do not compress OS files. You have plenty of space left, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  • John

    i have only 1 hard drive my operating system is also on it but i have only used this computer for about 4 months and i have already used 250 GB of my 581 i am thinking about compressing it but i am not sure that is safe……….. what are your suggestions and will it wipe out my files???

    • I highly recommend you do not compress OS files. You have plenty of space left, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  • Rich

    I highly recommend you do not compress OS files. You have plenty of space left, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  • Kazlak5000

    gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood

  • Venslan

    I compress the whole drive but when i turn of the loptop and i start again it cannot of open…..
    plss…. help me……..

    • I don’t have a solution to this. In the guide, it’s clearly stated:

      “Important Note: There are arguments both ways, but I personally recommend you do not compress data on your system drive/partition. You have been warned.”

  • Kparham

    I have a 220 GB HD on my main C drive.  I have used 219 GB with only 1.39 GB remaining.  I have used disk cleanup and I am at 0% defrag.  Help!!! Don’t want to crash… should I compress this drive, or would it be safe to compress the largeer folders.  I have a lot of videos. 

    I also have a bulit-in HP recovery disk drive with 1.80 GB free of 11.9GB

    I thought about buying a 4 GB HD, but I don’t know how to install it and transfer my data.

    What are your suggestions??? Please help me. Thanks

    • Just like trying to organize people, in ascending height order, in a packed room vs. an open room, you’re making life difficult for yourself. Here are three solutions:

      1. The $0 method: Delete some data until you are at 10% (22 GB) free space.
      2. The $0.50 method: Burn non-essential (archival) data to a CD/DVD/Blu Ray.
      3. The ~$50 method. Buy an inexpensive 250-500 GB hard drive and backup media etc. to this drive.

      I hope this helps… :)


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