When you want to upload a file or email a collection of files to a friend, it’s best to archive it as a .zip or .sit file first. This will decrease the time it takes for your computer to send it elsewhere, and it will also decrease the time it takes for someone else to download it.
Lossless compression basically works by removing redundancy. What does that mean? Let’s simplify things. Say you have a file that is comprised of the following data:
We can represent the data as F5I2L3E6
Information that’s redundant is replaced with instructions telling the computer how much identical data repeats. This is only one method of lossless compression, of course, but it points to how this is possible. Other math tricks are used, but the main thing to remember about lossless compression is that while space is temporarily saved, it is possible to reconstruct the original file entirely from the compressed one. lossless compression the decompress stage returns the data back to the original contents. Lossless compression is used in databases, emails, spreadsheets, office documents and source code to name a few. Lossy compression does not return the data back to the original contents. Lossy compression is used with music, photos, videos, medical images, scanned documents, and fax machines.
To create your own .zip or .sit file, you can select a single file or a group of files from within Explorer, and right-click the selection. Again, depending on how you installed Winzip or StuffIt, you can click the “Add to Zip” or “Add to Sit” option and have these programs automatically archive the file(s) into one.
Assuming that you have Winzip or StuffIt installed on your computer, you can access the files archived inside a .zip or .sit file by simply double-clicking the archive (a file ending in a .zip or .sit extension). Double-clicking one of these kinds of files will open up a window that displays the contents of the archive. In most cases, you can double click a file inside this window to use it, or you can select it and drag the file to a folder to view later.
Depending on how you elected to install Winzip or StuffIt, you may be able to right-click a .zip or .sit file and have the program extract its contents into a new folder for you.
Some files compress better than others and in some instances, you may not notice that much of a difference. The files that compress the best are images, documents, and multimedia files. Executable files (files that end in an .exe extension) don’t compress that well, however when they’re archived with a sizable number of other files, they compress rather well.
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