How To Linux Which Is the Best Compression Tool for Linux? Take a Look at Zip, Gzip, and bzip2 Share Pin Email Print cnythz/Getty Images Linux Tips & Tricks Basics Guides & Tutorials Installing & Upgrading Commands Key Concepts by Gary Newell An application developer and software tester with more than 20 years in the IT industry working on Windows, UNIX and Linux. Updated November 16, 2018 When it comes to finding file compression tools in Linux, you are bound to encounter zip, gzip and bzip2. Which one is the best compression tool for you depends in part on what you are planning to compress. A series of tests put these three tools through their paces to see which one is best. Best Tool for Compressing Windows Documents The first test uses each compression tool on a single file type to determine how each tool handles the file in question. This series of tests ran on a Windows document in the Microsoft DOCX format. Using the default settings, the results are: Tool File Size Initial Filesize 12202 bytes zip 9685 gzip 9537 bzip2 10109 Using the maximum compression settings on the same file delivered similar results. Using the maximum compression didn't deliver better results than using the default settings. Tool File Size Initial Filesize 12202 bytes zip 9677 gzip 9530 bzip2 10109 Running this same test on two other files, one containing text only and one containing text, images, and formatting, delivered the same result: The maximum compression settings didn't make much difference in the results. In all three tests, gzip comes out on top in all categories and bzip2 is the least effective. Best Tool for Compressing Images The next test shows the results of compressing images in PNG, JPG, Bitmap, and GIF formats. In theory, JPG files are already compressed and therefore may not compress at all and could, in theory, make the file bigger. The test results illustrated that compressing the JPB format images had little effect. PNG File Tool File Size Initial Filesize 345265 zip 345399 gzip 345247 bzip2 346484 JPEG File Tool File Size Initial Filesize 44340 zip 44165 gzip 44015 bzip2 44281 Bitmap File Tool File Size Initial Filesize 3113334 zip 495028 gzip 494883 bzip2 397569 GIF File Tool File Size Initial Filesize 6164 zip 5772 gzip 5627 bzip2 6051 In all cases, gzip came out on top again except for the humble bitmap. On the bitmap image, the bzip2 compression produced a tiny file in comparison to the original and the other compression formats. Best Tool for Compressing Audio Files The most common audio format is MP3, which has already been compressed, so the tools did not make much difference in the size of the two files that were tested. File 1 Tool File Size Initial Filesize 5278905 zip 5270224 gzip 5270086 bzip2 5270491 File 2 Tool File Size Initial Filesize 4135331 zip 4126138 gzip 4126000 bzip2 4119410 Best Tool For Compressing Video For this test, two video files were tested. As with MP3, the MP4 file already contains a level of compression. The FLV file does not have any level of compression as it is a lossless format. MP4 Tool File Size Initial Filesize 731908 zip 478546 gzip 478407 bzip2 478042 FLV Tool File Size Initial Filesize 7833634 zip 4339169 gzip 4339030 bzip2 4300295 Both file formats were compressed, and on both, bzip2 did the best job, although the results were similar. Executables The last category contains executables. Because executables are compiled code, it's no surprise that they don't compress well. File 1 Tool File Size Initial Filesize 26557472 zip 26514031 gzip 26513892 bzip2 26639209 File 2 Tool File Size Initial Filesize 195629144 zip 193951631 gzip 193951493 bzip2 194834876 Although the effects were minimal, the gzip compression comes out on top and bzip2 comes in last. Complete Folder Test This time, the test is run on a folder full of images, documents, spreadsheets, videos, audio files, executables, and other different file formats. Default Compression Tool File Size Time Taken Initial File 1333084160 0 zip 1303177778 1 minute 10 seconds gzip 1303177637 1 minute 35 seconds bzip2 1309234947 6 minutes 5 seconds Maximum Compression Tool File Size Time Taken Initial File 1333084160 0 zip 1303107894 1 minute 10 seconds gzip 1303107753 1 minute 35 seconds bzip2 1309234947 6 minutes 10 seconds Fastest Compression Tool File Size Time Taken Initial File 1333084160 0 zip 1304163943 1 minute 0 seconds gzip 1304163802 1 minute 15 seconds bzip2 1313557595 6 minutes 10 seconds Based on the final test, it is clear that bzip2 is not as useful as the other two compression tools. It takes longer to compress the files, and the final file size is larger than the other two tools. The difference between zip and gzip is negligible, and while gzip generally comes out on top, the zip format is more common across different operating systems. The Verdict Use either zip or gzip as your Linux file compression tool. Maybe bzip2 has had its day and needs to be confined to history. Continue Reading An Alternative Way to Compress Files Using Linux Linux / Unix Command: zcat How To Compress Files Using The gzip Command How To Search Compressed Files Using Linux How to Use the bunzip2 Command in Linux How to Extract tar.gz Files in Linux Optimize Your Images for the Web With These Compression Tools 10 Steps to Becoming a Linux Guru How to Compress Files Using the Linux Command Line Keep files grouped together within a tarball How to Unzip Files in Linux The 5 Best Zip File Extractors for Android Get the Best Rar Opening Tools for Android How to Decompress Files With the "gz" Extension How to Determine the File Type of a File Using Linux Example uses of the Linux Command "tar"