Jay Taylor's notes

back to listing index

facebook/zstd: Zstandard - Fast real-time compression algorithm

[web search]
Original source (github.com)
Tags: facebook compression tools zstd github.com
Clipped on: 2020-02-21

Skip to content
Image (Asset 1/14) alt= You have unread notifications
Zstandard - Fast real-time compression algorithm http://www.zstd.net
C C++ Shell Makefile Python CMake Other
Branch: dev
New pull request
Clone or download
Latest commit 61eeca4 40 minutes ago
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
.circleci Removing symbols already in unit tests and adding some new unit tests… 16 days ago
.github/workflows [CIFuzz] Rename output path to artifacts 10 days ago
build Removing symbols already in unit tests and adding some new unit tests… 16 days ago
contrib Add Support for Dictionaries 2 months ago
doc added ability to remove error messages and dictionary support (#1975) 25 days ago
examples Fix streaming compression/decompression examples 6 months ago
lib Line-wrapping 18 days ago
programs Merge pull request #2007 from lgarrison/cli-allow-sizet 40 minutes ago
tests Removing symbols already in unit tests and adding some new unit tests… 16 days ago
zlibWrapper Merge branch 'dev' into ahmed_file 3 months ago
.buckconfig Update builds to not support legacy v01-v03 3 years ago
.buckversion Add BUCK files for Nuclide support 3 years ago
.cirrus.yml [cirrus] Run playTests.sh 13 months ago
.gitattributes zstd.exe has FileVersion and ProductVersion 4 years ago
.gitignore added ppc64le tests on travis 2 months ago
.travis.yml Removing symbols already in unit tests and adding some new unit tests… 16 days ago
CHANGELOG updated CHANGELOG 28 days ago
CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md added code of conduct 2 years ago
CONTRIBUTING.md Remove redundant section and typo 3 days ago
COPYING added GPLv2 license 3 years ago
LICENSE added boilerplate 4 years ago
Makefile [cmake] Add playTests.sh as a test last month
README.md Update comments last month
TESTING.md Removing symbols already in unit tests and adding some new unit tests… 16 days ago
appveyor.yml Removing symbols already in unit tests and adding some new unit tests… 16 days ago


Image (Asset 4/14) alt=Benchmarks

For reference, several fast compression algorithms were tested and compared on a server running Arch Linux (Linux version 5.0.5-arch1-1), with a Core i9-9900K CPU @ 5.0GHz, using lzbench, an open-source in-memory benchmark by @inikep compiled with gcc 8.2.1, on the Silesia compression corpus.

Compressor name Ratio Compression Decompress.
zstd 1.4.4 -1 2.884 520 MB/s 1600 MB/s
zlib 1.2.11 -1 2.743 110 MB/s 440 MB/s
brotli 1.0.7 -0 2.701 430 MB/s 470 MB/s
quicklz 1.5.0 -1 2.238 600 MB/s 800 MB/s
lzo1x 2.09 -1 2.106 680 MB/s 950 MB/s
lz4 1.8.3 2.101 800 MB/s 4220 MB/s
snappy 1.1.4 2.073 580 MB/s 2020 MB/s
lzf 3.6 -1 2.077 440 MB/s 930 MB/s

Zstd can also offer stronger compression ratios at the cost of compression speed. Speed vs Compression trade-off is configurable by small increments. Decompression speed is preserved and remains roughly the same at all settings, a property shared by most LZ compression algorithms, such as zlib or lzma.

The following tests were run on a server running Linux Debian (Linux version 4.14.0-3-amd64) with a Core i7-6700K CPU @ 4.0GHz, using lzbench, an open-source in-memory benchmark by @inikep compiled with gcc 7.3.0, on the Silesia compression corpus.

Compression Speed vs Ratio Decompression Speed
Image (Asset 5/14) alt=The case for Small Data compression

Previous charts provide results applicable to typical file and stream scenarios (several MB). Small data comes with different perspectives.

The smaller the amount of data to compress, the more difficult it is to compress. This problem is common to all compression algorithms, and reason is, compression algorithms learn from past data how to compress future data. But at the beginning of a new data set, there is no "past" to build upon.

To solve this situation, Zstd offers a training mode, which can be used to tune the algorithm for a selected type of data. Training Zstandard is achieved by providing it with a few samples (one file per sample). The result of this training is stored in a file called "dictionary", which must be loaded before compression and decompression. Using this dictionary, the compression ratio achievable on small data improves dramatically.

The following example uses the github-users sample set, created from github public API. It consists of roughly 10K records weighing about 1KB each.

Compression Ratio Compression Speed Decompression Speed
Image (Asset 6/14) alt=Dictionary compression How To:
  1. Create the dictionary

    zstd --train FullPathToTrainingSet/* -o dictionaryName

  2. Compress with dictionary

    zstd -D dictionaryName FILE

  3. Decompress with dictionary

    zstd -D dictionaryName --decompress FILE.zst

Build instructions


If your system is compatible with standard make (or gmake), invoking make in root directory will generate zstd cli in root directory.

Other available options include:

  • make install : create and install zstd cli, library and man pages
  • make check : create and run zstd, tests its behavior on local platform


A cmake project generator is provided within build/cmake. It can generate Makefiles or other build scripts to create zstd binary, and libzstd dynamic and static libraries.

By default, CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE is set to Release.


A Meson project is provided within build/meson. Follow build instructions in that directory.

You can also take a look at .travis.yml file for an example about how Meson is used to build this project.

Note that default build type is release.


You can build and install zstd vcpkg dependency manager:

git clone https://github.com/Microsoft/vcpkg.git
cd vcpkg
./vcpkg integrate install
./vcpkg install zstd

The zstd port in vcpkg is kept up to date by Microsoft team members and community contributors. If the version is out of date, please create an issue or pull request on the vcpkg repository.

Visual Studio (Windows)

Going into build directory, you will find additional possibilities:

  • Projects for Visual Studio 2005, 2008 and 2010.
    • VS2010 project is compatible with VS2012, VS2013, VS2015 and VS2017.
  • Automated build scripts for Visual compiler by @KrzysFR, in build/VS_scripts, which will build zstd cli and libzstd library without any need to open Visual Studio solution.


You can build the zstd binary via buck by executing: buck build programs:zstd from the root of the repo. The output binary will be in buck-out/gen/programs/.


Zstandard is currently deployed within Facebook. It is used continuously to compress large amounts of data in multiple formats and use cases. Zstandard is considered safe for production environments.


Zstandard is dual-licensed under BSD and GPLv2.


The "dev" branch is the one where all contributions are merged before reaching "master". If you plan to propose a patch, please commit into the "dev" branch, or its own feature branch. Direct commit to "master" are not permitted. For more information, please read CONTRIBUTING.