How to reduce PDF file size without losing quality

by Sven Larsen, Digital Marketing IntERN

How to reduce PDF file size without losing quality

Storing scanned documents as PDF files allows for more efficient document organizing, faster sharing, and cheaper storage costs. Despite these benefits, compressing physical documents into PDF files does run a risk in losing the quality of the document in its electronic version.

Because of this apparent trade-off, many businesses have had to strike a balance between reaping the rewards of keeping smaller PDF documents and sacrificing their documents’ quality. What these organizations may not know is that there do exist some very helpful ways to ensure that PDF documents can be both compressed and preserved at their original level of quality.

Why both quality and compression matter

Preserving document quality is essential for law firms, banks, life sciences organizations, and businesses in any other highly regulated industry dealing with large-scale archiving and conversion challenges. In the legal industry for example, courts in the United States, Europe, and Australia mandate that all documents submitted for e-discovery and efiling are sent in a compressed, searchable PDF format below 10 MB.

Since 2016, every state in the United States has implemented an electronic filing system to record court documents and even the Supreme Court of the United States requires PDF files to be available via e-discovery.

Notably, the quality of these PDF files is also mandated by the court. Exact digital copies are often required to ensure validity, accuracy, and accessibility. Many courts have file size limits up for these documents such as 10MB set by the United States Bankruptcy Court. When a firm or business compresses their PDF legal files to meet these limits, they run the risk of decreasing accessibility and reducing the quality of them, leading to compliance issues.

Compression is still vital even when direct compliance laws are not applicable. Larger file sizes can quickly lead to dramatically higher storage costs. The ability to reduce documents down to 1% of their original sizes helps to reduce expenses that add up especially for large enterprises and cloud storage clients. There’s a common belief that too much compression can harm the quality, leading to added time in deciphering the document as well as mistakes in accessing them for use.

Two ways to compress PDF files and still maintain quality

Lossless compression creates a smaller document from one you start with by removing any repetitive information. The new compressed document will still retain all the original information and data of your documents when you access them for as long as needed.

Many people solve the issues with sending and storing large files through using ZIP files. Microsoft has made compressing through using ZIP files a built in feature since 1998, which allow for users to compress multiple larger files into one file that can be further compressed.

The quality of your documents inside ZIP files won’t be compromised since ZIP files use lossless compression to ensure quality, but archiving compliance issues arise with ZIP files because documents cannot be opened directly. Further, capability with compliance mandates can be a concern since the ZIP files themselves run the risk of being corrupted. Since your files are in one ZIP file, if some data becomes damaged, the rest of the files inside can be affected.

Lossless MRC compression is the best practice alternative to ZIP files and lossy document compression methods. MRC utilizes lossless compression techniques to significantly reduce PDF file size while preserving the quality of the document despite a high compression ratio.

How so? MRC compression takes a document, divides it into three respective layers, compresses each layer independently, removes redundancy, and stitches the layers together into a smaller and high-quality PDF file.

Each one of these layers holds key aspects of the document that get compressed:

  1. A binary mask layer for text and images in high resolution
  2. A foreground layer for text and images in lower resolution
  3. A background layer for just images and the document’s background

By compressing documents in several levels instead of one whole image, MRC compression doesn’t neglect details or lose quality for a smaller file size.

Using lossless image compression on each of these layers, the scanned document is smaller from losing any redundancy while also better quality from the careful attention to layers and details.

Unlike ZIP files, using MRC compression doesn’t involve as high a risk for corruption since each document would be individually compressed instead of being held in a compressed file with other documents like with ZIP files. Using MRC compression also solves the document access problem since documents are simply placed into a repository as themselves rather than as a zipped folder that requires proprietary technology to unzip and extract.

How MRC compression enables regulatory compliance

MRC compression allows for smaller PDF files to remain clear and high quality, making it an essential choice for many industries. PDF quality and clarity is a necessity in communicating with other businesses, governmental organizations, and — of course — customers.

Complying with quality requirements that many court systems require for their e-discovery and online filing systems is made easier through using MRC compression. The file size restrictions can be met using the lossless compression feature while the necessary quality for these court documents is maintained by MRC compression’s multilayer analyzing and reduced risk to corruption when compared to ZIP files.

Lossless Document Compression Does That Too: Lower Storage Costs, Faster Emailing

For many organizations, storing files and data is an expensive necessity. Compressing PDF files using MRC compression can reduce storage by 50% or more and ensure that networks run more smoothly.

MRC compression can also allow for faster communication between workers and customers. Sending larger documents can slow down operations, but using MRC compression to create smaller PDF files can speed up distribution of these documents.

Gmail’s attachment file size limit is set at 25MB while Outlook has a meager limit of 10MB, but a PDF Compressor with MRC compression can allow for new ease in communication and getting important documents shared.

Test out how MRC compression can change your business with a free trial of a PDF Compressor

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