5 ways to compress/uncompress files in .NET

There are numerous compression algorithm out there for file compression. Here come 5 examples with how-to-do links from this blog.

Compressing individual files

The following algorithms can be used to compress a single file. E.g. source.txt will be compressed to source.txt.gz.

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Compressing and decompressing strings with BZip2 in .NET C#

There are times when you need to return a large text from a web service. The large text will then need to be handled by the recipient. In order to reduce the size of the message you can combine two simple techniques:

  • Compress the string value with a compression algorithm, such as BZip2
  • Base64 encode the resulting byte array

You will be able to send the base 64 encoded compressed string over the wire.

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How to compress and decompress files with GZip in .NET C#

You have probably seen compressed files with the “gz” extension. These are files that hold a single compressed file according to the GZIP specifications.

GZip files are represented by the GZipStream object in .NET. It’s important to note that the GZip format doesn’t support adding multiple files to the same .gz file. If you need to insert multiple files in a GZip file then you’ll need to create a “tar” file first which bundles the individual files and then compresses the tar file itself. The result will be a “.tar.gz” file. At present tar files are not supported in .NET. They are supported by the ICSharpCode SharpZipLib library available here. We’ll look at tar files in another post soon.

With that in mind let’s see how a single file can be gzipped:

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Packing and unpacking files using Zip archives in .NET

We’ve looked at a couple of (de)compression techniques available in .NET in previous posts, see link below. Here we’ll look at how to compress multiple files into well-known ZIP files using .NET.

.NET4.5 has added native support for ZIP files, though you need to add the following library to reach the new functions:

New system compression dll

Say you’d like to compress all files within a folder:

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Compressing and decompressing files with BZip2 in .NET C#

BZip2 is yet another data compression algorithm, similar to GZip and Deflate. There’s no native support for BZip2 (de)compression in .NET but there’s a NuGet package provided by icsharpcode.net.

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Compressing and decompressing strings with BZip2 in .NET C#

There are times when you need to return a large text from a web service. The large text will then need to be handled by the recipient. In order to reduce the size of the message you can combine two simple techniques:

  • Compress the string value with a compression algorithm, such as BZip2
  • Base64 encode the resulting byte array

You will be able to send the base 64 encoded compressed string over the wire.

Read more of this post

Packing and unpacking files using Tar archives in .NET

You must have come across files that were archives using the tar file format. Tar files are most often used on Unix systems like Linux but it happens that you need to deal with them in a .NET project.

You can find examples of .tar files throughout the Apache download pages, such this one. You’ll notice that .tar files are often also compressed using the GZip compression algorithm which together give the “.tar.gz” extension: they are files that were packed into a tar archive and then zipped using GZip. You can find an example of using GZip in .NET on this blog here. I have only little experience with Linux but I haven’t seen standalone “.tar” files yet, only ones that were compressed in some way. This is also the approach we’ll take in the example: pack and compress a group of files.

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