What is Data Compression?

Data compression is a way of arranging information so that it takes up less space and is easier to transfer to the cloud, over a network or onto and off of the internet. The compression of files is routinely done by people who use portable memory in order to access files on different devices. Becoming familiar with what data compression is could help a person optimize their time and technology resources.


What Compression of Data Means

Compression of data involves coding it more efficiently so that it takes up less space. It is coded for ease of restoration. The compression process uses statistical techniques in order to get rid of repeated information. That might mean removing spaces or using one character to represent a string. Long recurring strings might be replaced with shorter ones. Data compression has been around for more than 100 years, since well before the modern internet. Morse code is an early example of data compression. It makes use of shortcodes as a substitute for longer characters. Telephony is another type of data compression in which high voice frequencies are removed from audio.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Compressing Data

There are many advantages to compressing data. When transferring a file online, a smaller one takes less time to send or receive. A smaller file also requires less space, so it may fit on a portable drive or phone with limited memory. Some types of compression software can package and zip multiple files into one compressed file for ease of sending by email. The actual compression process requires a lot of computing resources. The process can also be time-consuming. Decompressing the file also takes considerable computing resources. The recipient of a compressed file might not have the right software to decompress it. Over time, decompression programs may become obsolete or unsupported, and a person might not be able to access their saved, compressed files.

How Compressed Data Is Used

There are many uses for compressed data. Audio compression is one of the most common types of data compression that most people encounter. An MP3 file is a type of audio compression. It is a form of data compression that is without loss of the information. It allows a large amount of information to be stored in a way that preserves bandwidth. Another use for data compression is for videos. One example of a compressed video file is a MPEG format. In video compression, the information may be broken down into different files and packaged for later reconstruction.

Types of Data Compression

According to 2 Bright Sparks, there are many types of data compression. Different types of software offer different types of compression, and there are five main types to consider. DEFLATE is one type, and it uses LZ77 as an advance processor along with Huffman coding. Another type is DEFLATE64, which is a premium product related to DEFLATE. Burrows-Wheeler Transform is a reversible transformation process. BZip2 is an open-source type of Burrows-Wheeler Transform. The Lempel-Ziv-Markov algorithm has the highest compression but slowest speed.

Understanding data compression could help a person in their career. Familiarity with this concept could also facilitate the choice of a career path. Knowing about the different types of data compression could also aid a person in making informed decisions about how to handle information.