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CD Games Compression - Storage [Best way]?


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Hi all,

As I stated yesterday, I am new around and planning to get a massive game collection (with time and effort). Even though, I have realised -talking of CD games era- that they take a lot of storage so, trying to figure this out before getting a proper external storage, I would like to know which is the best way to store games to have an idea of how much room I can have occupied in a hard drive. I am thinking of PS1, PS2, PSP, Game Cube, DreamCast, Wii and Xbox Classic for now.

I am asking this because most of them seem to be in RAR and then some bin+cue inside or an iso file or something similar. Is there any compressed way launchbox emulators can read them so I can save as much storage as possible?

Many thanks.

Edited by MijacOnAir
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If you plan on using Retroarch for its supported platforms, many of its cores support the MAME compressed hard drive format called CHD. Some other stand alone emulators support their own compressed format. For example PPSSPP supports CSO which is compressed ISO. Here is a great page which lists many of the options.


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CHD format is typically supported on most of the Retroarch cores.  I have slowly moved most of mine from iso/bin formats over to CHD.  It does save quite a bit of space plus it can be uncompressed back to original format/CUE/ISO etc if needed.  There have been version changes to CHD over years (up to 5 now) which have improved the archiving and compression process so best to use current CHD.EXE if compressing files.  Here is a listing for the larger game files:

  • PS2 - use GZip format.  see more info in LB Forum thread here
  • PS1 - use CHD format if using Retroarch Mednafen HW cores it supports CHDs. Note that standalone emulator PSXe does not support CHD format.  For multi-discs I use the PBP format that was compression tool designed by Sony for the PSP.  Use a tool called PSX2PSP.   The advantage is it allows you to merge Disc 1, Disc 2 type multi-disc games into one compressed file (cannot do that in CHD, must retain each Disc # separately).  You can also do that with M3U playlists for CHDs but the PBP format is much simpler.  In theory could compress all to PBP but the PSX2PSP tool isn't well suited to mass conversion and isn't quite as a efficient as CHD (typically over half size of original disc)
  • See below for batch conversion (and limitations) for PBP using PSX2PSP:
  • PSP - Use CSO compression format on most games.  Tool called PSP ISO Compressor works well (again, not easy for mass number of files).
  • Saturn - can use CHD with Retroarch Mednafen cores.
  • Sega CD - can use CHD with Genesis Plus GX Retroarch core. Note for the Sega 32X CD games I had to leave those in native bin/cue format since the Retroarch core for Sega 32X didn't accep CHDs (but was only a few games for me so didn't worry about it).
  • NEC Turbografx-CD - can use CHD with Mednefen PCE Retroarch core
  • Sega Dreamcast - can use CHD with reicast Retroarch core.  Also works with Demul standalone emulator.
  • Gamecube - can use the GCZ compression format with Dolphin standalone or Retroarch core. There is a command line tool called GCIT that will compress from ISO or can use the compress option within Dolphin (full standalone emulator). 
  • Wii - Use the WBFS format in Dolphin.
  • Phillips CDi (I use MAME here) and Panasonic 3DO (Retroarch 4DO core) also can use CHD format
  • Most other games ZIP will work fine.

All the compression can take time and some of the non-command line tools are "one by one" conversions which can suck a lot of time.  For the CHD format, the MAME monthly package has the CHD EXE.  There are variety of scripts to convert in mass. Search the forum here for several examples since that is where I got mine (attached).  For the batch file just change the extension and path.  CHD.EXE must be in same directory and would start with a test file or two first.  Any errors it will just stop waiting for input.  The advantage when all done is that have smaller size files, less "stuff" since don't have CUE, ISO, BINs all floating around, and if you already have the MAME Software List files for Saturn, PSX, and Dreamcast, you don't have to bother with conversion since they already converted to CHD format.  The RetroPie wiki site also had good information on various compression formats. 


Edited by sundogak
updated to indicate batch file ability for PSX2PSP and Dolphin feature
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you both for such a detailed reply :)

Some questions arise:

- For PS1 games then, I understand you don't recommend using PBP for any single disc game because of the final size of the game? I think except from this could be great since a lot of games bring a bin file plus tons of "audio tracks" or things like this. I am asking because I mainly use PSXe for emulating.

- For Dreamcast, does ReDream support CHD? That's the emu I am using.

- Regarding GameCube games, should I stay with the most commonly used iso or I can go for wbfs as the Wii games (no idea if they can be held in the same container so to speak).

- For Wii U, is there any way of compressing? I have heard that Loadiine versions are far more compressed than the extracted dumps. Since I have really no idea of this, is there any way of converting to Loadiine compression? How does it work? and what tools are used for this?

Big thank you again :)

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  1. I originally wanted to stick with PBP for the PS1 since ePSX is not compatible with CHD and likely will not be anytime soon based on some comments made by the developer in their forums.  Size wise they are fairly close but CHD being more efficient.  However, the deal breaker for me was that the only tool I could find a few years back was the PSX2PSP tool.  PSX2PSP is not a batch tool so you have to do each game individually (at least I couldn't figure out how to do in mass).   see For the 30 or so multi disc games I had that was okay but it gets tedious real quick doing one by one.  Maybe there is a batch PBP tool out there but I didn't find.  So that pushed me to CHD where could easily batch convert and/or use my MAME Software CHD set which I already had with no conversion.  If there was a batch tool, I likely would have stuck with PBP. So really just up to how much time you want to burn and/or how many games have.
  2. ReDream supports CHD via Retroarch core and via the main ReDream emulator.  My understanding based on the Retroarch News is that ReDream core is still work in progress relative to the Reicast. In Retroarch, if you ever want to see what file types a core supports, go to "Information" and then "Core Information" within Retroarch and will note.
  3. On GameCube, not sure on that.  Mine were ISOs >>>GCZ.  I never saw (but wasn't really looking at time either) a GC WBFS container. Only my Wii files are in WBFS.  To some degree, I was less worried about the "best" compression as long as they were close.  Convenience to convert and emulator compatibility became key considerations.
  4. I didn't mess too much with worrying about compression for Wii U since I only have a few games (mostly as a curiosity just to see if could get running). Once start getting closer to current generation of consoles things get complicated beyond the compression aspect.  CEMU is a cool piece of software but my experience was it took lots of fiddling around to get most to run in good state and it takes a fast computer. My Switch has most of the games I would want on Wii U anyway.  ? So not much help there but the CEMU site and Reddit may be best bets for info.
Edited by sundogak
updated to indicate there is a batch tool for PSX2PSP
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On 9/23/2018 at 11:35 PM, sundogak said:


  • Gamecube - can use the GCZ compression format with Dolphin standalone or Retroarch core. There is a command line tool called GCIT that will compress from ISO. 

Is it better to use this tool for compressing Gamecube isos instead of the built in compression tool in Dolphin? Do they do the same thing/are the target formats the same?

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I wouldn't say better just what I used at the time but both will give same results.  The Dolphin one is more convenient to use if already have imported the ISO/GCMs.  But either tool will work and compress to GCZ or un-compress back to ISO (or GCM which is just ISO with different extension).  GCZ files for both tools compress to same level (at least based on a quick test of two games I did).  You can multi-select in Dolphin and compress so that would easiest if already have Dolphin up and running.


Oh this was a good link I found that helped me along the way with all the format craziness. 

Edited by sundogak
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