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On Windows7 with NTFS filesystem - I have a bunch of files which contents are purely nulls (confirmed with text editor pspad). Is it possible that I can reclaim this space transparently? Meaning that if these files are subsequently opened for writing the space is then allocated.

Understandably this could create a situation of overprovisioning and thus writes could fail if there is not enough free space - this is acceptable in my case.

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The easiest thing would be to use NTFS compression on these files.

Windows also supports Sparse Files. You would need to be able to modify the programs that create the files to use this.

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NTFS compression is a good idea, it will require some jiggerypokery on my side as the directory contains a mix of seldom/heavily accessed files - but it would work. It's a shame I can't force Spare Files from my end rather than needing application support - oh well. –  aland Feb 23 '13 at 15:05

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