While surfing the Internet, you will undoubtedly find audio and video files to download. Since media files, especially full length movies can be very large, downloading them may take hours, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.
Smaller is Better
To speed things up and make efficient use of disk space, many large
files are compressed. File compression reduces the size of a file, shortening the time it takes to download. Compression software uses complex
mathematical equations to scan a file for repeating patterns in the data.
It replaces the data with smaller codes that take up less room. For example,
one way compression software works is to replace repeating text characters
with a code that also notes the locations of those characters in the data.
With a picture, it would find all of the red pieces, for example, and
replace them with a code.
Viewing Compressed Files
To view compressed files, you need a compatible decompression program that reads these codes and converts the data to its original form.
Most of the files you encounter on the Web are either text, graphics,
audio, or video files. Some may be compressed, others not. The most common
compressed files are those with extensions such as .zip,
.sit and .tar. These extensions represent popular compression
formats for the PC, Macintosh, and Linux. They may be a single file or groups
of files that have been bundled into a single archive.
An archive file can sometimes contain any type of file
and often contains software programs with related documentation.
Create a Download folder on your hard drive, then download the compressed file into this empty folder and decompress it. This helps you track the extracted files.
To decompress a .zip file you need an utility like WinZIP. To unstuff a file with a
.sit extension, you need a program called Stuffit Expander, a popular
program for the Mac. Though WinZip will not decompress files that have
been "stuffed," there is a StuffIt Expander version for Windows. StuffIt
Expander can also decompress other formats, including .zip
Files with a .sea or .exe extension are self-extracting files for the Macintosh and Windows. They don't require additional software to run. You simply click on the file to launch it.