What is “Compress Old Files”, and is that a Thing Today?

A few years ago you might have seen that some filenames were blue. On previous windows versions the Compress Old Files was a feature of the Disk Cleanup tool (cleanmgr.exe). Most thought of it as a folder, but it’s not. It was actually an action that was used by the OS to save disk space.
What it does is to run a compression scheme to make old files take less disk space by compressing them.
Whenever you see a file that are displayed with a blue color in Windows Explorer, you see a “Compress Old File”.
This wasn’t a bad idea when hard drives were small and expensive, but it’s not such a good idea today. A file like this would need to be extracted first before the system can open it, whish on huge files could take some time.
The files that benefit most from this kind of compression are files like Microsoft Office files (and these are already compressed as a standard when saved in the new Office 2007 and above), and OpenOffice file formats.
The files that take up most space like sound, image and video files with extensions such as jpg, mp3, mp4 and mkv have most likely already been compressed. Trying to compress them further takes a long time and they usually ends up larger than they were before.

But that was back then, what about today?
Honestly I’m not sure if this is a thing on the windows 10 system as i haven’t spotted any “blue files”. Nor have i seen the option in the “Cleanup Manager” so i guess the feature is gone on Windows 10 version 2004, but don’t take my word on it. What i have noticed is the option on drive properties saying “Compress this drive to save disk space”. If this is somewhat the same, I’m not sure.

What i do know is that there is a feature called “NTFS Compression” enabled as a default (Which only affects NTFS partitions as the name kind of explains this itself). When you copy or move a compressed NTFS file to a different folder, NTFS decompresses the file, copies or moves the file to the new location, and then recompresses the file. If the file is copied to a FAT32 drive then the file is not being compressed again after being copied.
According to the book: “Windows10 for Dummies” The difference between this method and ZIP (or any other file compression system) is that NTFS compression is capable of compressing the entire drive containing system files in use, where as ZIP can only do files, and not system files.
Also, you cannot set password on NTFS compression as you can with ZIP files.

Should you happen to see the two blue arrows on a file or folder, you should know that this object and it’s content have been compressed.

If you do not want to compress the entire drive, but still want to compress some folders, you can select them manually by right clicking on the folder you wish to compress and select properties. At the bottom under “Attributes” there should be an “Advanced” button that contain what we seek. In here there should be an option to let you add compression on the folder and it’s sub items.

If we really need this type of feature is not up to me to say, but in todays technical world where the drives gets bigger and bigger it seems less likely that this feature will become permanent on future windows releases. Me myself have never used this..

Thanks for reading, and stay curious!