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General Question on Compression.

I am 70% Computer Geek and 30% still human....a very dangerous combination. My question is more for the community to repond to for general learning....we  can all still learn....

I would like expert opinion on ........With the availability of Memory now, at low cost........is compression of any type worth the risks involved in recovery........especially when the compressed data is often (foolishly) the single valuable backup of someones irreplaceable data. We will soon have ,basically, unlimited dynamic memory. We are closing in on  Terebyte hard drives......that's 10^+12 .  If you stack pennies up and use just 1 Gig worth you can go to the sun...try comprehending multples of 1000 Gigs and more!!!! I am sure we will get into petabyte,exa,zetta, etc. etc.

And if the risk of compression is worth it what is the best method???


Just food for thought.....

Rick
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rspalding
Asked:
rspalding
4 Solutions
 
NetworkArchitekCommented:
Well it is cerainly worth it. Disk space is cheap but that is no reason to unnecessarily clog them up, disk space is still not free. As well I think the idea that that decompression is risky is a non-starter if we're using proper algorithms and programs. Sure I would not trust my client's corporate data to a compression program my nephew wrote as an excercise in Huffman Coding, but if you use a proper compression program/method then it is fine. I don't think it is any riskier than trusting one's data to say a filesystem such as FAT32 or NTFS. As well, bandwidth is still not even cheap, so we certainly must turn to compression for any sort of transfer or large data files. Well, these are just my thoughs/
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r-kCommented:
As a general rule, I would definitely recommend against using compression unless you are faced with a special circumstance, i.e. having to store large amounts of data onto limited disk space. Long-term viability is definitely put at risk when you compress your data. Not worth it in most cases.
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InteractiveMindCommented:
I have no problem with compressing data, as NetworkArchitek has said, as long as it's with the use of a well known/trustworthy application.
For the most important data of mine however, I always back them up to some sort of storage media (usually just a DVD-R/W), uncompressed.

As long as errors don't occur while compressing the data, then it makes sense that it's even less likely going to get corrupted, than it would if it wasn't compressed; reason for this would be that it requires less space (and thus, less sectors on your HDD, for example), therefore, any sector-errors are less probable to effect the compressed file.. do you see what I mean?  ;-)
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NetworkArchitekCommented:
InteractiveMind makes an excellant point. The compressed file has far less chance of being corrupted. We have to remember that compression is not a "willy nilly" way of doing things, in it is rooted in structured mathematical and tree based algorithms. There is a difference in file compression and lossy compression as that found in media files such as mp3's and mpg's.
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PaulCaswellCommented:
Its the old speed against size issue. If you want maximum speed access to your data, dont compress. If you are prepared to trade one for the other, its just where does the balance point appear for you? If the process you are running would generate a petabyte of uncompressed data per day then compress it, if this would take a decade, dont!

Paul
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rspaldingAuthor Commented:
Yep I agree you all have good points......thanks for your opinions....Rick S
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InteractiveMindCommented:
:-)
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