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Compress files in Windows

As a Windows Network Administrator I always have to make space delete unneeded files, archive old files, compress files that we don’t need but we might need at some point.
I don’t use the same compression method every time, because the scenario is different. Here are a three compression methods for Windows.

Compress Files Using the NTFS Compression

Compress Contents to Save Disk Space

This method of compression only works on NTFS partitions. You don’t have the option for a FAT or FAT32 partition.
The most usual and easier way to do this is to use the Windows’ Graphical Interface and access the Advanced File Properties and select Compress contents to save disk space.

Compact – Compress files or folders from command line

If you would like to compress files from a batch file use this command line variant. Usually if you access the advanced file properties, (right-click => properties and => advanced) you have the option to compress contents to save space. Another good use of the command line is that it gives you a better view of the progress. The graphic interface sometimes hangs and you don’t know if the job is still active.

The command to compress a folder from within the folder is compact /c /s. It compresses all of the files within the folder and marks the folder as compressed so that new files are created compressed.

Why would you choose Compact and not Zipped Folder?

The main reason is that a compacted folder can be used by applications. In other words if the path of a log file points to a compacted folder this is transparent for the application that writes the log file. As a result your log files will be compacted. You cannot do this with Zipped folders or files.

Compress files using the Windows’ built-in zip archiving utility

Send to Compressed (Zipped) folder

Why would you choose Compressed (Zipped) Folder over the Compacted Folder?

The zipped Folder has better compression and better portability. The zipped folder has a slightly better compression rate, and you can copy the files to any other Operating System, send them by email and they will retain the compression. The compacted folders will only be compressed on the original location unless you compress the file again at the new destination. Note in the image below the difference between the two file compression formats. The Windows shell has the option to “show NTFS compressed files in color”, which is a great option. Note that the zipped file is slightly smaller than the compacted, (blue colored), one.

Compact (the native NTFS compression) vs Compress the send to Zipped Folder
Compact vs Compress click to enlarge

Is there a Compressed (zipped) Folder – command line variant?

Unfortunately, there isn’t any Windows built-in option. The good news though is that there is a free archiver that has a command line version as well. 7zip is a great free utility very flexible that manipulates all of the popular archiving file formats.

Compressing from the command line with 7zip is very simple, the simplest command is 7z a NewFolder.zip “New Folder” that compresses the folder New Folder into the archive: NewFolder.zip. For more options and switches type: 7z –h, note that 7z doesn’t understand the /? switch, usual on any Windows application.

Why would you choose 7Zip over the Windows’ built in compressing solutions?

The main reason is flexibility. 7zip has a lot of options/switches that control a lot of the compression aspects and it is very easy to use in a batch file.

An interesting application is to separately archive a lot of folders from a batch file. Let’s say you have 500 folders that you want to archive and you know you will be accessing those folders on a regular. It makes more sense to archive the folders separately and not in one big file. It is easier to access smaller zip files from the Windows shell and keeps the system responsive. To do this manually for 500 folders is a nightmare. Here is a command that runs from a batch file that will compress those folders separately, each folder one zip file:

for /D %%d in (*.*) do 7z a -tzip “%%d.zip” “.\%%d\*”

To run the command from the command line and not from a batch file the command is slightly different:

for /D %d in (*.*) do 7z a -tzip “%d.zip” “.\%d\*”

There are other great archiving utilities such as Winzip, Winrar, Pkzip, etc… They are not free, but you can get a trial-ware which in many cases is good enough for anybody.

A few tips on what to compress and what not.
Usually Installation files are already compressed so there is no benefit in compressing.
Digital photos in a jpg or gif format are already compressed using special algorithms.
PDF files don’t compress.
Text files, (plain text, log files, etc…) compress the best.
Word files can be compressed but not as much as the text files.

Internet Business – How to choose your First Web Hosting Company

The Internet Business is a business model that can be started with a minimum of investment. Your work, talent and favourable circumstances can be enough to help you start an Internet business.

If you already have an idea and you planned everything about your product and site’s content you need to start your business. At first you need to minimize the costs and investments in order to diminish risks. If the business will not take off as expected the loss will be minimal and you can try another idea. Read this article about successful business ideas.

The minimum for an Internet business is a domain name, (this is not 100% required but strongly recommended) and a Web Server. A web server can be your own equipment or hosted server. Hosting companies will sell various types of hosting services ranging from a dedicated server with one or more dedicated IP addresses to shared hardware.

A good web hosting package will contain support for application development platforms such as PHP, ASP, ColdFusion, etc… access to a database server and a Control Panel that offers to customers an easy way to manage their website.

As a starter the minimal package will be perfect for you, you can always switch to a dedicated server if shared services can’t accommodate your growing traffic.
Affiliate Disclosure


When you choose your first web hosting look these features even if you don’t think you are going to need them; as your business grows you will certainly need it.

  • Disk space – this should not be a problem, as most of the companies will give you plenty of space or even unlimited space.
  • Technical support – you need good technical support that you can rely on if something happens. 24/7 support is desired so you don’t have to wait the next day to fix your website.
  • Email support, auto-responders, mail forwarding will be great marketing tools.
  • FTP is a definite requirement, SSH connection could be needed, Control Panel is an excellent tool for administration you should choose a package that provides it.
  • Multiple domains and sub-domains will help you pay for a minimal single package while testing various domain names.
  • Up-time is a measure of reliability of a web site. 99.5% or more is a good up-time.
  • Web-site speed – can be determined by a series of factors of which the important ones when picking your hosting company are: the Internet Connection Speed of your host, the number of customers that share a server, the resources taken by the other customers that share the server with your web-site, the capability to partition hardware so that CPU and IO are equally shared between customers, (some companies use a CPU throttling mechanism).
  • Support to database, PHP, ASP or ColdFusion and Perl.
  • Price is very important, at least at this stage, but don’t go for the cheapes just because of the price. All the previous aspects are more important.
  • Try to go local, the language barrier, the time-zone sometimes make a difference. Also it will be faster for your clients to access a local provider than a server located on another continent.

It is important that you focus more on the content of the website and running the business and not on developing the website and learning PHP or ASP. That’s why you have to look for a Control Panel that contains the ability to install a CMS, (Content Management System), such as Drupal or Joomla or even WordPress.

Following is a list with some of the most popular Web Hosting providers:

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Affiliate Disclosure

Free Protection against Computer Viruses and Other Malware

Today’s computers are under a constant assault of viruses and other malware. We all need to have up to date Antimalware software to protect our computer. Buying antivirus software and subscription could be expensive because you need to update your subscription yearly. However there are free options for your computer’s security.

What is Malware?

Computer Malware

Malware is a general term for any software designed with the intention to affect negatively a computer or to steal private information.
Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, adware, crimeware and other malicious software.

There is a misconception that only Windows operating systems are affected by Malware. However, this isn’t true. Mac’s and Linux machines are affected as well. There are not as many viruses written for Mac and Linux machines, but this is mainly because of their popularity as Operating Systems. Windows OS is the most popular therefore many Malware programmers exists.

Today a computer without an antivirus is extremely vulnerable. Especially if the computer is connected to Internet or and exchanges files with other computers, which is the case of most of the computers today. More than that, nowadays an antivirus is not enough for avid Internet users. There are so many types of threats that an antivirus alone will not protect you entirely. All computers should have an up to date Antivirus and Antispyware as a minimum. Sometimes, websites that seem inoffensive can infect your computer with spyware, Trojans or even computer viruses.

Some websites will create deceiving pop-ups to mislead you in believing that your computer is infected. An action is requested on the next step asking you if you want to scan your computer. Many times you don’t have the choice to refuse this action as the pop-up special crafted and you cannot close it. The best thing to do in this situation is to save all of your work and logoff or reboot your computer. Advanced users can alternatively kill the task from the task manager.

Free Antimalware

There are a few good choices for people who don’t want to pay for their computer security. There are free antivirus, free antispyware, free personal firewalls, and free anti add-ware. The vast majority of them are only free for personal use. In other words, if your computer is a company computer you should buy a license.
Don’t forget that you need to have at least an antispyware, an antivirus, and a firewall to be protected, or software that combines all of them.

Firewall

Firewall

A firewall is a must for any laptop, since connecting your laptop in other networks puts a serious threat on the security of your computer. Depending on how your home firewall is configured, if you own one, you might need a firewall on all of your home computers.

A basic firewall is included with all modern operating systems so you don’t need to buy one. However, if you need a more advanced personal firewall that gives you a very granular control of all your network and Internet activity, in and out, you should consider the free Sygate Personal Firewall, or Online Armor Free, or Comodo firewall which is part of the Comodo Internet Security suite, or Sunbelt Personal Firewall.

Antispyware

Spyware is one of the most common Malware today. Spyware can range from almost inoffensive pieces of code to software that will damage your computer and make you lose data or steal private information from your computer. A computer without an antispyware protection will be, sooner or later, affected by spyware.
There are a few free Anti-spyware products on the market. I will first mention the free for anyone “Spybot-S&D!”. It is a good antispyware with a long history on the Market. You need some computer knowledge to configure it for best results. If you need a scan only free Anti-Spyware it’s one of the best choices.
Ad-aware, the known anti add-ware has evolved to an antispyware program. There is a free limited version.
Windows Defender is Microsoft’s antispyware solution. Windows Defender is now part of the operating system with Windows Vista and Windows 7. There are Free, (for Personal Use), Security Suites that include antispyware as part of the bundle. See the Security Suites for more antispyware.

Antivirus

Clamav Logo

Antivirus has always been a must for any computer that exchanges data with other computers in any way. There are viruses that can even render your computer useless. For instance the virus CIH will corrupt your computer BIOS. The BIOS chip is essential for starting your computer. Other viruses will trash all your hard drive data.

Free antivirus programs exist on the market. ClamAv is a free, open source, antivirus for both personal and commercial use. Other free for personal use Antivirus include Avira Antivir, Kaspersky Anti-Virus free edition, Norton Security Scan and eTrust EZ Antivirus as a one year trial. There are also free online scanners, many antivirus manufacturers provide an online scanner for free.

Security Suites

Security suites are sets of Anti-Malware programs designed to protect against more than one threat. They can contain an Anti-Virus, an Anti-Spyware, Anti-Phishing, a firewall, an Anti-SPAM, as well as other protections against Malware. They are the choice of most of us since they are easy to administrate and don’t require advanced computer knowledge.
Very popular Free Security Suites are AVG, Avast, Comodo Internet Security, Google Pack – a collection of software that includes an antivirus and an Anti-spyware and Microsoft’s Security Essentials.

As you see, there are a lot of free choices, so not having an up-to-date Anti-virus and Anti-spyware is free if you can’t afford to pay for one.
Share you thoughts about Internet Security and your choice of Antivirus.