This article is good for general audiences and provides an introduction to data compression techniques and uses.
File compression is a technique for “squeezing” data files so that they take up less storage space, whether on a hard drive or other media. Many different kinds of software, including backup programs, operating systems, media apps, and file management utilities, use this technique. While the type of source file and the type of compression algorithm determines how well compression works, a compressed set of an average mix of files typically takes about 50 percent less space than the originals. This technology has applications ranging from archives and backups to media and software distribution.