Free Up Hard Drive Space Without Deleting a Single File (XP and Vista)

This is an amazing feature that I have seen on my computer a year ago but I can’t believe I never touched it until recently. I was able to free up gigabytes of spaces on many of my drives using this feature. And this was the result:

There is no specific name for this feature but for the sake of this article, let’s call it Windows Compression. Windows (XP or Vista) is able to compress any file on the fly, and will indicate it by turning the file name blue.

When you compress a file or folder, the file will look and behave exactly as before. If you’re worried about slowdowns in decompressing, there won’t be any because Windows Explorer is able to decompress on the fly. (For anyone that believes this claim is false, I specifically looked this up through many sources, and having tested it myself, it does not produce any slowdowns)

Before you compress, you should know that:

  • Files/folders/drives encrypted cannot be compressed and vice versa
  • Once a folder or drive is encrypted, any file that enters the folder or drive will automatically be encrypted
  • Compression only works on NTFS drives

You are NOT recommended to:

  • Compress a drive with system files on it: That being said, do NOT ever compress any drive with an operating system. Doing this will sabotage your computer. A compressed file can only be decompressed with Windows Explorer or an application. If you compress your system files, you won’t be able to boot up!
  • Compress a drive: I do not recommend you compress a drive unless you are absolutely sure that there are no system files on it. If you have created a partition for the purpose of storing your word documents, that should be fine.
  • Compress program files or game files: Any files that are part of a program or game should not be compressed. Depending on the program, it may increase load time dramatically. To be on the safe side, it is best not to compress such files.

Compressing Folders and Files:

First, right click on a folder or file of your choice and choose Properties, then click on Advanced.

Once you’re at this screen, all you have to do is click on “Compress contents to save disk space” and choose OK. Now you’re back at the folder properties. Click on Apply and this window should come up:

This is simply asking you if you want to apply compression to the folder only, or if you also want it to compress the folders inside and the files within. Choose an option, click OK and your computer will do its work. Depending on the number of files and size, compression may take a while.

Once it is finished, you can right click the folder and choose properties to see how much your folder was compressed.

About 30MB, which is not too bad for a couple of word documents and other files ;)

Compressing a Drive:

Before you compress a drive, I just want to remind you to NEVER compress any drive with an operating system on it. Doing so will make your computer unbootable.
Compressing a drive is really easy. Simply right click a drive and choose Properties. The “Compress this drive to save disk space” option is right at the bottom. Just check it and click OK to compress.

This is a great feature and everyone should use it. Still need help? Check out our new forums where you can get an even faster and better response!