Zstd: Everything to Know About Zstandard Compression


Internet users often encounter large files and documents which require compression to ease download and storage. If you are a curious internet user, you've probably noticed that different compression algorithms work uniquely and produce different outputs.

While RAR, ZIP, 7Z are standard file compressions, Zstd compression offers a suitable compression alternative. Users looking for smaller and faster data compression solutions will especially appreciate the value that Zstandard compression provides.

Read on to learn more about zstd and how this compression algorithm works.

What is zstd?

Zstd is an emerging compression algorithm from Facebook that is ideal for compressing database dumps. This algorithm delivers better compression compared to gzip that relies on the deflate algorithm. Users also prefer this algorithm for its speed and minimized usage of CPU cycles.

Zstandard compression has a smaller CPU footprint as it often averages 20 to 30% usage compared to other compression algorithms that can use up to 100% on one core. Users who've invested heavily in virtualized infrastructures can leverage this efficient algorithm.

This compression algorithm simplifies data processing as it helps to encode information on different forms of digital data with fewer bits than the original file. This capability allows you to use less hard drive space and share information across multiple systems faster.

Zstd designers created an algorithm that can scale with modern hardware. The algorithm combines a performance-first design with recent compression breakthroughs. Users can leverage the algorithm that optimizes the design of modern CPUs while offering diverse applicability at high decompression speed.

How to do zstd compression

Zstd is a lossless compression algorithm that has multiple implementations in different programming languages. Users can use the flexible in-memory compression and decompression functions to complete their compression needs.

If you're using a Linux-powered system, you'll need to install the tool before you can perform data compression or decompression. While the underlying implementation and technology may differ from other compressors, ZStd's usage resembles that of other compression tools. Here are the steps to follow when compressing a file with zstd:

  • Call the zstd command
  • Include the z-flag tag to indicate what your algorithm needs to compress
  • Complete the process with the file's name

The process completes the creation of files with the .zst extension. When you execute the command, the algorithm compresses your file, then creates a filename .zst that you can decompress later.

While working with zstd compression, you'll notice that you won't remove the source files by default upon compression. You'll need to use the –rm flag to remove source files when performing file compression.

Zstandard lets you specify your desired compression level. You'll simply include "–" along with any value that ranges between 1 and 19. If you fail to determine the compression level, the algorithm will use 3 as the default compression level.

You could refine your compression command further when you specify the compression speed. Often, the compression speed relies on the compression ratio. While the default compression speed is 1, higher values ensure that you achieve faster compression speeds.

With zstd, you won't have to settle for the default zst compression. You can specify your preferred compression format using the –format flag that lets you choose from the zstd, lzma, xz, lz4, and gzip formats.

For file decompression, zstandard offers two alternatives. You could opt to use the unzstd command or use the –d flag with the zstd command to decompress your files.

Conclusion

Zstd compression is a suitable option for anyone looking to compress data in real-time. This free, open-source compression algorithm offers remarkable compression ratios, reducing your processing power requirements significantly.

Essentially, this compression algorithm offers diverse use cases and consistent outcomes.

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