The Differences Between Lossless And Lossy Compression

The Differences Between Lossless And Lossy Compression
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The amount of files and data a person can accumulate over a period of time, can quickly fill out their hard drives or cloud storage space. Because of that, many people have to look for ways to reduce the amount of space those files are taking up. Since deleting those files, is often not an option, resorting to file compression is another alternative. However, before you begin to convert your files, or compress them, you need to know about the methods available. In addition, when sharing files via email, messages or social media, being able to compress the files is crucial and beneficial. Not just for the person sending the files, but the for the person receiving them as well. This is why knowing the differences between lossless and lossy compression, is very important.  




File Compression


One of the best things about file compression, is that you can compress images, music or video files easily. In the day and age where there is so much information available on the internet, the amount of data we download, send, or save, can take up lots of space. Luckily, people can choose to compress their files as a means not only save space, but to make it easier to share those files as well. Still, when it comes to file compression, it is very important to know and understand the differences between the types of formats available. The reason for this is because choosing the wrong format, can end up rendering a file obsolete in several ways. For one, it can ruin the file’s original quality. Secondly, compressing it in the wrong format, can end up making the file size immensely larger.


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Lossless And Lossy Compression


So what are lossless and lossy compression, and what are the differences? Lossless and lossy compression are characterizations which are used to explicate the distinction between two file compression formats. One (lossless) allows for all of the original data to be recovered whenever the file is uncompressed again. The other (lossy) works differently since it ends up eliminating all the “unnecessary” bits and pieces of information in the original file to make it smaller when compressed. The question some people often ask is how can I choose between the two, or when? The answer to that question, largely depends on several factors. One, is the size and type of file you want to compress or convert. Secondly, the amount of space available, as well as the amount of space you want to save.


Lossy File Compression


While lossy file compression are mostly associated with image files, it can also be used for audio files. Files such as MP3s, MP4s, and AAC files, or images such as JPEGs, are usually compressed in the lossy format. Whenever you choose to compress a file using the lossy format, many of the redundant information in the files, are eliminated. Because of that, lossy compression tends to be used whenever people are reducing the size of a bitmap images, or other files. This does not mean that lossy file compression does not work very well when it comes to reducing and preserving files from their original state. In fact, an original image which has been compressed using lossy format, will retain about 80% of it’s original quality. For audio files, such as a MP3, the reduction of the original file can be reduced to about one tenth, while almost sounding identical.


Lossless File Compression


Unlike lossy file compression, using the lossless format can end up reducing a file’s size without any loss of the original quality. With new compression algorithms available now, lossless compressed files are preserved better than ever before. Using lossless compression to compress a file, will rewrite the data in the same manner as that of the original file. However, audio and image files compressed using lossless compression, will tend to be larger in size than that of lossy.


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Choosing Between The Two


If you are trying to decide between which two methods to choose for compressing your files, the answer depends on several factors. If you are willing to accept minor losses of a file’s original quality as a means to compensate for saving space, then you can choose lossy compression. However, if you are not that really concerned about space, or want to keep your file in its original state, then lossless is your best option. Many experts agree that if you have the space, then going with lossless is recommended. The reasons for choosing to compress files using lossless compression are several. For one, after the file has been compressed using the lossless format, it can be restored or converted again back to the original state without any losses. In addition, lossless compression, allows the original data to be completely and fully reconstructed from the original compressed data afterwards.

In the end, choosing between the two also depends on the types of files as well as the space available. For photos, going with the lossy compression is an option. But for audio and video files, lossless is better.