Memory compression definition
Memory compression is a computer technique that reduces the amount of space that data occupies in a computer’s memory (RAM) — but without losing any information. It does this by temporarily compressing unused or less frequently accessed data, freeing up memory space for actively used applications and processes. When needed, the compressed data can be quickly decompressed and accessible again, making memory management much more efficient and helping the systems function better.
How memory compression works
- The computer system identifies unused data in its memory (RAM). For example, this could be a large image file that’s not been opened or edited in a while.
- It compresses this unused data (or file) to save memory space. For instance, the file size may be reduced from 10 to 2 MB.
- Doing so frees up RAM for actively used tasks. You now have 8 MB of freed-up RAM for active tasks, such as running a web browser or using a document editor.
- When you need the file or data again, you can decompress it, which restores it to its original size (10 MB).
The compression methods and the data to be compressed will vary depending on your operating system and the memory management system on your device.
Benefits of memory compression
- Optimizes RAM usage for better performance.
- Rapid compression and decompression.
- Uses minimal CPU power.
- Automatic — works without manual intervention.
- Supported by modern operating systems.
- Enables smoother task switching.
- Delays the need for additional RAM upgrades.