Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

App of the Week: Squeeze

This is the first in a weekly look at an application I’ve been using lately and come to like. All of them will run on Mac OS X but some will be cross-platform.
For this inaugural App of the Week post, I’m going to look at Squeeze, a file system compression tool for OS X. Normally it’s a very reasonable USD $9.95, but right now you can get it for free at MacHeist.
Squeeze preferences
Squeeze brings to OS X a feature that has been in Windows NT-based OSes for quite some time – file system compression. This allows you to compress certain files transparently – they will open and work like normal files, but are compressed and so take up less disk space than they would normally – as opposed to compressing them in archive formats like Zip and Rar. Both NTFS, the Windows file system, and HFS+ which is the Mac file system support this type of compression but OS X doesn’t allow users to compress files like Windows does. Enter Squeeze.
Squeeze adds a preference pane and a small notification bar application which allows you to select folders to compress. The notification bar application quietly watches those folders ensures that any new files that you save also get compressed.
The space savings are, at best, modest – many files such as MP3 tracks and JPEG images are already compressed and so applying additional compression to them isn’t going to make them much smaller. Also, while I haven’t noticed it myself, if the system has to regularly access compressed files this may result in a slowdown due to the extra processor power required. It’s therefore probably best that you stick to lightly-used files and not your System folder, for example.
It could do with one big new feature, which is to find seldom-used files and present them to the user as candidates to compress. The Disk Cleanup Wizard in Windows does this and it can claw back significant amounts of space from files which are not used very often, with little or no performance degradation. Also, Squeeze only runs on Snow Leopard – if you have an older version of OS X then Squeeze isn’t for you.
At $9.95, this makes for a very good value way of getting extra disk space without needing to add an extra hard drive, or upgrade. It’s a simple tool that does what it needs to do very well.
(Full disclosure: I got Squeeze for free as part of the MacHeist promotion)

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