When looking at saving, sharing, editing, or printing an image, it is important to know the best way to save and store it. There are a lot of options when it comes to file storage, and there are a lot of things that need to be saved. Due to their widespread use, though, we have narrowed these options down to JPG vs PNG, as they are commonly available and cover the basics.
These two file types provide optimal storage depending on what the file is needed for. Whether is it a treasured memory, a snapshot of an experience, a project for work, or part of your business, to help you decide which file type you need, we have compiled research on both to compare.
What Is A JPG VS PNG File?
When choosing between a JPG vs PNG, know that both types of formatting file storage are used for images—whether it be pictures or graphics. Both have been in use for over a decade and have become common technological necessities. Before you can decide which is best for what you have though, it is important to understand what each type is.
A JPG file is likely the type most are more familiar with. Think of it like the default save setting for most graphics. It was designed to store images when internal space was a concern—which means that when you save something as a JPG, you are compressing the image. This is a great option for those who need space for other files, or have limited space to begin with.
When an image is compressed for a JPG, the compression is lossy. This means that it saves space but it also loses unnecessary information and data within the image—permanently.
This loss can be fine for simple images that will never be blown up or edited (think personal photos or scrapbooking), but for those wanting to frame images or edit them moderately to heavily, you may lose too much data in the compression.
Overall: JPGs are great for posting pictures online (though maybe not on your professional photo site), printing simple and small pictures, or just having a database of photo history. They fit most needs in terms of file saving in a basic sense and if you are not planning on doing much more than preserving photos for nostalgic or historic purposes, the JPG format it likely all you need.
A PNG file compression is not lossy, which means it takes up more space but does not compromise data or details. Because this is a lossless type of file and holds more information, it is best utilized for editing and printing professional photos or uploading graphics (think logos or icons—not “pictures” but still an “image”).
A PNG format does not alter the image in any way, so in saving the original specs, another benefit of using PNG is that they support transparency. This means that if you have a graphic or image that is not the standard shape, it will not automatically fill the background to fill that shape.
This transparency tool is vital for those using a lot of icons or logos as it negates the need to manually take out the added background a JPG would create. This is great for business logos or graphic design icons.
Overall: PNGs are great for photos that will need to be blown up or edited, and for graphics. It also does not fill background space unnecessarily and keeps the original features and spec of an image which is perfect for selling or editing pictures.
What Are Some Key Differences Between JPG VS PNG?
In choosing between JPG vs PNG, the obvious save size is, of course, a blatant difference—though it is a difference that may not matter to a lot of people. The compression ratio though can range from 2:1 to 100:1 depending on settings, so if you have typography, crisp lines, or sharp edges, they will likely become pixilated areas upon any type of zooming.
We will restate though that those needing to save graphics or professional photos should definitely go with a PNG file. If you have an oddly shaped graphic, a PNG file would be less of a hassle as well.
However, with a PNG vs JPG file, large files will take up a bit of space. Keep in mind that if you are putting them online you may find the page or website running slower while it tries to work with such a heavy load—so there is some compromise there.
For most other needs, a JPG works just fine. For online posting, scrapbooking, or personal photo albums, you will find that a JPG file will allow you to save more images, and the compromised data will likely not be noticeable either for the purpose you are using the image for.
However, make sure that what you save as a JPG vs PNG is something you plan to keep as a JPG, because the lost data is permanent, and the file size and data can become smaller with each save. Simply put, there is no turning back.
Is JPG Or PNG Better For My Project?
The JPG vs PNG battle is actually not a battle of specs but a battle of purpose. When deciding which format to use, ask these questions:
What Type Of Image Is It?
This question gets at the picture specs. If you have a simple image—of your dog, or your rose bush—then you will have different needs than if it were a picture of your wedding or the view from Machu Picchu—things that may be altered, blown up, or hung up.
Also ask yourself if this image is a graphic—has it been designed? It is a non-standard shape? Answering those questions can save a lot of frustrating time in the future editing out an unnecessary background.
What Is The Permanent Purpose Of This Image?
If you are saving something now to post on social media but may decide later that you want it blown up and professionally framed, you may want to hold off on the JPG. Saving as a JPG vs PNG is permanent. You cannot regain lost data or size, so it should be carefully considered if you feel there is a chance you may want a bigger option.
We would like to add in here that if you are working on a project for business or for work, we would recommend saving in PNG. It will allow you to go back and edit things easier as you, the client, or the company see fit, so the flexibility can be invaluable here and worth the compromised space or speed.
As a side note, we have not included GIFs in this comparison. You do need to save moving images as GIFs, as neither PNG or JPG will be able to save all the functions of a moving image and will instead just capture a snapshot.
Though they do use a lossless compression, GIFs should only be used for moving images, as there is a color palette translation that can greatly distort even the files they were created for, which are more basic in design. Attempting a GIF save on a photograph would result in extreme color dilution as well as line and graphics distortion.
In the end, there is no right or wrong answer. The file type and formatting are up to you depending on the needs you have for each saved image. Understanding the basics of what a JPG vs PNG file can do for you and for the image is important for choosing the best option.
All in all, picking the best save format for your needs should be simple and straightforward with the information and guidelines given here. They are not overly complicated aspects of technology, however their simplicity makes them seem similar, so choosing between a JPG vs PNG can often lead to picking the wrong save format. The simple questions outlined above should help define each format and their differences more clearly.
One suggestion we did want to add, though, is that based on the size PNG images can take up, if you know you need to save as PNG vs JPG (whether for a photography business, graphic design, or other needs), purchase at least a 1 terabyte drive—possibly multiple terabytes depending on use.
Having a separate storage place for photos or designs will save space and speed on your computer, so you will not have to compromise your computer’s function for quality files.
Even if you are saving as JPG, if you have a lot of images, invest in a separate drive—it will keep your computer space free and your images safer if there is a malfunction on the hard drive.