Understanding Compression Codecs in Apache Parquet

Dipankar Mazumdar
3 min readJun 7, 2024


Apache Parquet is a columnar storage file format optimized for fast processing and querying with large-scale data volumes. It offers advanced compression and encoding capabilities to efficiently manage complex, large-scale data sets. Reducing the size of stored data is essential for optimizing storage costs and improving data processing speeds, especially in environments with large-scale data operations.

Parquet File Format

Compression codecs in Apache Parquet address this by efficiently compressing data, allowing for more data to be stored using less physical space and enhancing system performance by decreasing the load on disk I/O during data retrieval.

This technical overview delves into the specifics of these compression techniques, their mechanisms, and their integration with Parquet to handle large-scale data effectively.

Importance of Compression in Parquet

Compression in Parquet serves critical functionalities:

  • Storage Efficiency: Compressing data reduces physical storage requirements, which is essential in cost-sensitive storage environments.
  • Performance Optimization: Compression decreases the amount of data read from storage, reducing I/O operations and enhancing query performance across distributed systems.

In-Depth Look at Compression Codecs

Parquet supports a variety of compression codecs, each engineered for specific types of data and performance requirements:

Different Compression codes
  • ZSTD (Zstandard): ZSTD is a real-time compression algorithm providing high compression ratios with impressive decompression speeds. It leverages a combination of dictionary and entropy coding to optimize both textual and binary data efficiently. ZSTD is particularly effective in scenarios where the trade-off between data compression quality and speed is crucial.
  • GZIP: Utilizing the DEFLATE algorithm, GZIP is a robust codec providing solid compression at reasonable speeds. It is well-suited for consistent data where redundancy is common, such as log files or older archives. GZIP offers a reasonable trade-off between compression ratio and speed, making it a suitable choice for a wide range of data set sizes.
  • LZ4: LZ4 is designed for extremely fast data compression and decompression, achieving speeds orders of magnitude faster than traditional algorithms at the expense of lower compression ratios. Its design is beneficial for near-real-time data processing applications, where processing latency is more critical than data size reduction.
  • Snappy: Snappy is optimized for speed rather than maximum compression, providing moderate compression ratios with minimal impact on system resources. This codec is ideal for applications where computing resources are a concern than the compression rate.
  • Brotli: Originally developed for web content compression, Brotli excels in environments with high volumes of text data. It primarily uses the LZ77 algorithm to compress its data. While Brotli can offer superior compression to other algorithms, it might do so at the cost of slower compression and decompression speeds.

The performance and efficiency of a compression codec are highly dependent on the characteristics of the data it is applied to and the computational environment in which it operates. For instance, codecs like ZSTD excel with complex data structures that benefit from high compression ratios, while others like LZ4 are better suited for simpler data that prioritizes speed over compression depth.

Today all of the Lakehouse table formats — Apache Hudi, Apache Iceberg, and Delta Lake utilizes Parquet as the underlying file format to write data. These formats benefit immensely from Parquet’s compression capabilities, which can be finely tuned to enhance data storage and performance when integrated with Apache Spark.

For instance:

  • In Apache Hudi, you can specify the compression codec using the property hoodie.parquet.compression.codec, choosing from options like gzip, snappy, or lzo based on your specific needs.
  • In Apache Iceberg, the property write.parquet.compression-codec allows you to select from zstd, lz4, brotli, or snappy, enabling a tailored approach to balance compression efficiency and processing speed.

By using these settings, data engineers can configure their data pipelines to utilize the most effective compression codec, thereby enhancing storage efficiency and query performance in a Lakehouse environment. This allows reducing storage footprint and accelerating data processing, thereby transforming efficiency in cost-sensitive and performance-demanding environments.



Dipankar Mazumdar

Dipankar is currently a Staff Data Engineering Advocate at Onehouse.ai where he focuses on open source projects in the data lakehouse space.