If you're looking to clear some space on your phone, you may want to upload your photos and videos to Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or whichever cloud storage solution you use. Besides apps, these files are usually the largest found on most people's phones.

And if you plan to upload your photos and videos to your cloud account so that you can properly label and store them, you may find that your files come in several formats. Your videos may have extensions like AVI, MOV, FLV, or WMV, among others. You may discover extensions like JPG, TIFF, PNG, or GIF when sorting through your image files. While some of these may sound completely foreign to you, you may have heard of one or two.

If you're on social media, you've more than likely heard of GIF files. GIFs are commonly seen in their animated form in memes and other widely shared images across the web. But what exactly are they? And what else do you need to know about them before deciding whether to delete them from your phone and other devices?

What are GIF files?

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and refers to image files comprised of up to 256 colors. People often use image files in GIF format for web graphics. GIF files can also be animated, hence their widespread use in meme development and sharing. And GIFs can have transparent pixels, which can be helpful for achieving certain effects. For example, if you were looking to create a montage of your friends, you could superimpose the GIFs of your friends' images with transparent backgrounds onto a background image.

You can open GIFs with a wide range of applications, including industry-standard graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as much simpler graphics editors like Microsoft Paint. GIF files are saved using lossless data compress techniques so that the visual quality is preserved even as the file size is reduced.

Why you need to compress GIF files

Because GIF files use lossless compress, GIF file sizes may be substantial. And even simple GIF animations may have larger file sizes than some video files.

To make a great animated GIF that has a good chance of going viral requires some work. Even if you're ultimately creating a file with a runtime of 15 seconds or less, you may need to edit your file extensively using Photoshop or similar software. You may need to access your draft on different devices or share it with others, especially if you handle your business' social media accounts. And you'll need to store your raw file(s) and finished products somewhere.

The larger the file sizes and the more of them, the more you'll wind up paying for storage. It's best to compress your GIF files for quick and easy storage and transmission if you're developing them for work or fun. And even if you've just stumbled across a bunch on your phone, you'll want to compress them, along with your image files, until you know which ones you want to preserve and which ones can go into the Recycle Bin.

How to compress GIF files

When you compress files, especially image and video files you want to preserve for posterity, you want to use lossless compress methods. Some compress methods, known as lossy compress methods, delete some data to reduce the file's size. But over time, these methods may degrade the quality of your file. While you may not want to save those dance craze GIFs on your phone for the next 40 years, you may have photos of old relatives that may be in GIF form that you can't replace.

You can compress GIF files using open-source options or web applications. But sorting through these solutions can be tricky. And if what you're looking for is a quick and easy way to compress your personal data for storage, then you'll want a secure and straightforward solution like WinZip.

How to compress GIF files in WinZip

From File Explorer:

  1. From your File Explorer select all of the files you want to compress.
  2. Right-click on the selected files. WinZip > Add/Move to Zip File… This will open WinZip with options about how you want your file zipped.
  3. Select your file options, like name, location, encryption, and any other features you want to include.
  4. Select Add. This will create a zip file in the location you selected containing all your files.

From within WinZip:

  1. From within WinZip, locate the files you want to zip using the panel on the left.
  2. Select all of the files you want to compress.
  3. Select the Add to Zip button at the bottom of the left panel.
  4. After you add all of the files you want to the Zip file, select the "Save as" button in the right bottom corner. Name your file and select save.

Note: Certain file types do not compress as much as others. You must have WinZip installed on your computer to use these methods.

Conclusion

So before you start deleting all of your big and bulky files en masse (to free up space for that new mobile game, no doubt), compress all your files using WinZip and save them online or on a hard drive first.

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