Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've gotten a shiny new computer with just a 60gb SSD, and I don't store much media so it hasn't been a problem... until I bought a game pack that needs 50gb+ to install. With hard drive prices and my wallet as it is, I cannibalized my old laptop for its slow, 5400rpm drive.

I'm wondering if the performance will be better or worse if I compress it. Specifically, I'm hoping I can use this effect, considering that I rarely max out more than 2 of my 4 cores.

share|improve this question
What game needs 50gb?! – Shinrai Jan 9 '12 at 16:06
@Shinrai game pack... steam had some sort of deal with almost every single total war game ever (except for shogun) for $30. – bdares Jan 9 '12 at 16:07
Right, but you can install them individually... – Shinrai Jan 9 '12 at 16:23
@Shinrai but who wants to do that? – Nate Jan 9 '12 at 17:56
@Shinrai, Fair point. I have about 10, and I like to keep them all ready to run, in the event a friend is online and ready to play I don't want to have to wait for 10GB to download because I have the wrong game loaded. – Nate Jan 9 '12 at 18:11
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Compressing and decompressing a file is processor intensive task (varies a lot depending on file sizes and how frequently files are created/modified).

I dont think compression is going to improve performance.(My guess is it will worsen it)

So i think you would be better off with slow 5400 rpm drive.

share|improve this answer
I don't think so. Compression isn't such complicated. In Linux you have already compressed ram. – Betterdev Jan 9 '12 at 16:42
@David As Daya stated, it's a processor intensive task. If the CPU is up to the work, it shouldn't be a big deal. That said, it will increase file access time, when compaired against a non-compressed version of the same task. It will not have any impact on running performance, only on loading and saving files. – Nate Jan 9 '12 at 17:58
@NataBross: I'm using compcache on my handy and I've only 800 Mhz cpu. Not to mention that a simple compression scheme is so easy to compute. – Betterdev Jan 9 '12 at 18:35
@NateBross: If you are interested you can read my link from tomshardware. – Betterdev Jan 9 '12 at 18:36
I think the point is here that if you enable compression you have to read LESS DATA off your slow hard drive and then you can use the fast CPU to decompress it. If it takes, say, two minutes to read 100 MB and then 10 seconds to decompress it into 150 MB you've gained time versus taking 3 minutes to read out 150 uncompressed MB. – evilspoons Jan 9 '12 at 20:07

It depends on how fast your processor is and how slow the drive is. If your CPU can compress/decompress the data faster than the drive can read/write the uncompressed data then that is the way to go.

You should also consider whether the program you are using stores its data in compressed format. If it does then trying to compress/decompress it will result in even worse performance. Given that huge amount of data it uses there is a good chance that the data is stored compressed. Check with software makers or the games forums

share|improve this answer

Best Practices for NTFS Compression

According to this article by Microsoft,

NTFS Compression is heavily reliant on CPU performance. Yet, repeated read/writes would drastically influence performance as well.

share|improve this answer

I've asked this question before and my conclusion is to buy some RAM and use a ram disk. Most likely it's possible to add 6 or 8 GB ram. This will speed up Windows 7 a lot. Then you can get a good ram disk that can handle images and save the most accessed file to the ram disk. You can link the folder if you can't change the path. You can find out the most accessed file with procmon.exe. Here is the link to my question How can I compress my system drive in Windows 7?. Unfortunately is was closed but I posted a link from tomshardware where there was a benchmark. In short compression can help a bit. Here is the link from tomshardware,testberichte-240895.html.

share|improve this answer

Yes, compression can increase performance. These days with Intel Haswell and AMD Richland CPUs, we have super computers on our laps. Implementing disk-wide NTFS compression on your system drive will increase performance because the processor will decompress the file very very quickly.

Compressing a file reduces the size on the disk, thus the disk reads the file quicker, and the additional time taken to decompress the file in the CPU is very small, thus you have a net performance increase. But if you have an SSD then not worth it. Slow mechanical drive, absolutely yes, do it.

share|improve this answer
Microsoft claims otherwise: Do you have a citation showing increased performance with compression? – ChrisInEdmonton Jun 5 '13 at 15:10

I don't believe compression will gain you much. Typically the files that take the lot of space are movies and music. These compress very poorly and therefore will be lost work.

But especially movies are usually played rarely and can easily be stored on a slow drive. If you really need to get that little extra speed you could move these on your slow drive and place a link instead on your SSD. (unfortunately I don't know exactly how to do this in Win 7)

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .