Whether you’re a hobby blogger, or a journalist, or a super programmer extraordinaire, you need to know the basics of data compassion.

Data compression is vital across multiple professional fields as well as plenty of what we affectionately call “side hustles.” It’s important to know how the size of data can affect how it loads online, how it can be sent back and forth, and what different methods of compression due to the information you’re trying to send.

So let’s talk about this extremely relevant topic which is becoming more and more important to understand – and put to practical use – in the digital age:

What is Data Compression?

Okay, so think about the word compression: it means to reduce in volume and comes from a middle English word meaning “to press together.” In a sense, data compression is the pressing together of data to make it easier to send or load.

Data compression techniques fall into two categories: lossy and lossless, which is relatively self-explanatory. Lossy techniques will lose data when used, whereas lossless techniques will maintain the original integrity of the file(s) you’re compressing.

Lossy techniques are great for compressing images that are needlessly large when putting them online or in print (because there are only so many pixels on a screen meaning that the image can just be so sharp regardless of how high quality it is). If you’re putting up a photo on a website or in a print publication, you’re going to want to compress the image so that it loses some of its data.

If you are archiving an image, you’re going to want to use a lossless technique because you don’t want to ruin the integrity of the original file. Who knows, maybe it will be used in a future project in a way where you need all that extra data that isn’t relevant for average print or online publication.

Obviously there are plenty of other reasons to compress files; however, using photos as an example is a great way to explain the difference between lossy and lossless compression.

Why is it Important?

Data compression is necessary because you’re probably going to be using it some capacity. There are very few fields which don’t require the use of computers in some way nowadays, which means you’re going to need to be able to communicate and send information effectively.

Data compression is something as simple as sending a zip file of vacation photos to your aunt and something as complicated as sending an entire program to a colleague across the country.

You need to understand and be able to implement data compression to ensure you’re using the right technique and the right programs that are right for your needs and provide the proper amount of security.

WinRAR vs 7Zip:

Speaking of programs…

There’s long-standing competition between WinRAR and 7Zip when it comes to compression software.
After doing some research and experimentation of my own, I’ve concluded that 7Zip is the better of the two… you can always decide for yourself, but recently WinRAR has finally discovered and fixed a 19-year-old vulnerability in its software… I don’ know about you, but I’m not taking my chances against the hackers, I’ll use 7Zip!