About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

May 3, 2011

Filename Color Enigma

Several weeks ago I got an interesting email from Pat in Port Republic, about something I thought may affect many of my readers.  It also affects all Windows users at some time or another.

Pat essentially said that, "…in an attempt to speed-up my computer I ran the Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter programs."  So far this isn’t a problem and I heartily recommend that you all do both of these things on a fairly regular basis.  Perform these maintenance steps once a week, month, etc., depending on how often you use your computer.

Pat went on to say that when she turned on her computer the next morning  she found the color of some of the file names had been changed from black to blue text.

This is nothing new.  If  you notice your filenames have done the same thing don’t worry about it and go back to what you were doing before.  This has been going on in Windows for many years through many versions of the Windows Operating Systems.

Back around 2000 Windows switched its file system structure from FAT (File Allocation Tables) to NTFS (New Technology File System).  This provides, among other useful features, the ability to easily compress file sizes to save hard drive storage space.  When you compress a file in the NTFS structure it changes the color of the filename from…you guessed it, black to bright blue.

If you want to test it out do this.  Right click on a filename of a text or Word file. (This doesn’t work on audio files since the sounds/music could be corrupted.)  Next, click on "Properties".  If you aren’t already there click on the "General" tab and click on the "Advanced" button in the lower-right part of the window.  Now check, "Compress contents to save disk space".  Your file will compress and turn blue showing it has been completed.  You can also do this to all of the files that are in a folder.  Just right click the folder and follow the same directions.  If you right click a folder you will be asked if you wish to perform the compression on all of the files and folders in this main folder.

The wording may differ slightly depending on which version of Windows you have.

Do you need to perform this compression to be "on top" of things?  No.  I won’t worry with it and if you are really running out of space on your hard drive, buy a new one.  It isn’t too costly.  I saw a 2 TB hard drive for less than $80 a couple of weeks ago.

So basically, blue files are compressed files.  But Pat didn’t go through all the steps above.  How did her files get compressed?  Easy, when you run the Disk Cleanup utility and choose to "Compress old or rarely used files" or to, "Compress this drive to save disk space", you get compressed files with blue filenames.

Just ignore them since nothing is wrong.  If the color really bothers you, follow the same instructions above and uncheck, "Compress contents to save disk space".

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