Disable File Compression on Windows 11/10: Step-by-Step Guide

Windows 11 and 10 offer a feature called NTFS file compression, which is a method that allows us to save storage space on our hard drives. This can be particularly useful if we’re dealing with limited disk space. However, despite its benefits, file compression may not be desirable in all cases. It can lead to increased CPU usage because files need to be compressed and decompressed on the fly, which might slow down our system, especially if we’re working with large files or if our processor is already under a heavy load.

A computer screen displaying Windows 11 settings with the file compression option unchecked

When deciding to disable file compression, the reasons may vary. It could be for the sake of performance, as the compression process can consume additional processor resources. Similarly, if we frequently access large files, compression can increase access times, thus impacting our workflow efficiency. Disabling it can therefore be a straightforward choice for improving system responsiveness. Crucially, turning off file compression in Windows does not need to be a complicated process, and Microsoft offers several native tools within the operating system to manage this setting.

Understanding File Compression in Windows

A computer screen shows the "File Compression" settings in Windows 11. The option to disable file compression is highlighted

When we discuss file compression on the Windows operating system, particularly with NTFS (New Technology File System) volumes, we’re looking at a method that reduces file sizes to free up disk space without compromising data integrity.

Benefits of NTFS Compression

Maximizing Disk Space: One of the foremost advantages of NTFS file compression is its ability to save valuable disk space. By compressing files and folders, we can store more data on the same physical hard drive.

Automatic and Transparent: The process is seamless; files are compressed and decompressed on the fly, making them accessible without extra user action. System performance is not significantly hindered during these operations for everyday tasks, making NTFS compression a smart option for systems with limited storage.

Potential Drawbacks

CPU Overhead: Compression and decompression of files require CPU resources. On systems with older processors or high CPU load, this could marginally impact system performance.

Fragmentation: NTFS-compressed files can become fragmented over time. Fragmentation can slow down reading and writing to disk as the system needs to access data from multiple locations.

Not Suitable for All Files: Certain types of files, such as already compressed videos or images, see little to no benefit from NTFS compression, and in some cases, it can even slightly increase the file size.

Disabling File Compression via System Settings

Disabling file compression on Windows can help improve system performance, as it turns off the process of compressing files to save disk space. We’ll guide you through the steps using the File Explorer interface and the Advanced Attributes configuration.

Using File Explorer

Firstly, open File Explorer and navigate to the folder or drive you wish to adjust. Right-click on the item, and from the context menu, select Properties. This action brings up the properties window, which is where you can control the compression settings.

Advanced Attributes Configuration

In the Properties window, under the General tab, locate and click the Advanced button to open the Advanced Attributes section. Here, locate the Compress or Encrypt attributes section. You will see an option labeled Compress contents to save disk space. Ensure to uncheck this box to disable compression, press OK, then Apply your changes.

Modifying Group Policy and Registry Settings

Windows 11 and 10 users can disable file compression using Group Policy and Registry Editor methods. These tools are powerful for system administrators seeking to enact wide-ranging changes across the system.

Local Group Policy Editor

To modify file compression settings via the Local Group Policy Editor:

  1. Press WIN + R, type gpedit.msc, and press Enter to open the Group Policy Editor.
  2. Navigate to: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Filesystem > NTFS.
  3. Locate the policy “Do not allow compression on all NTFS volumes”.
Action Setting
Double-click the policy. Choose the Enabled option to disable compression.
Click Apply. Then, click OK to confirm.

Registry Editor Method

Using the Registry Editor is a direct approach to alter system settings. Caution is advised since incorrect changes can lead to system instability.

Steps to disable file compression via the Registry Editor:

  1. Open the Run dialog with WIN + R, type regedit, and press Enter.
  2. Navigate to the key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Policies.
  3. Within ‘Policies’, proceed to create or modify the DWORD value:
Value Name Value Data
NtfsDisableCompression Set to 1 to disable NTFS compression.

Taking these actions within Group Policy and Registry can effectively disable file compression across the computer’s NTFS volumes.

Command-Line Tools and PowerShell Scripting

In managing file compression on Windows 10 and 11, command-line tools and PowerShell scripting are robust options. We leverage these to gain direct control over the system’s compression settings with precision and efficiency.

Using Command Prompt

To work with file compression through the Command Prompt, an elevated command prompt is necessary. This gives us administrative privileges required for system configurations. Here’s how we can disable NTFS file compression with “fsutil”:

Steps to Disable NTFS File Compression:

  • Open Start and type cmd.
  • Right-click on Command Prompt and select ‘Run as administrator’.
  • At the command line, enter fsutil behavior set disablecompression 1.
  • Press Enter.

This command tells the system to stop compressing files. The setting is applied system-wide, so all new files remain uncompressed, but it won’t affect any that are currently compressed. We must manually decompress those if necessary.

PowerShell Commands

PowerShell scripting allows us to manipulate more complex features like memory compression. We can enable or disable memory compression on Windows 11, which can potentially make the system faster by reducing the page file usage.

For memory compression, we utilize Get-MMAgent to check the current status and Disable-MMAgent or Enable-MMAgent to turn the feature off or on. Here’s the command to disable memory compression:

Disabling Memory Compression:

  • Right-click Start and select ‘Windows PowerShell (Admin)’.
  • Input the command Disable-MMAgent -mc and press Enter.

And to re-enable it:

Enabling Memory Compression:
  • Type Enable-MMAgent -mc and hit Enter.

These PowerShell commands are specific and need administrative rights to execute. Subtle changes to a system like enabling or disabling memory compression should be done with care, as they can impact performance. We always recommend understanding the full scope of these commands before applying them.

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