How to convert (all) "sparse" files into "normal" files?


Extraordinary Member
After some investigations I found out that some (many > 100) files of my hard disc are "sparse" files.
These sparse files are mostly *.pdf and *.avi files.

From what I know so far sparse files are files which occupy not their full official size on the hard disc.

I don't know why e.g. the *.pdf files are sparse files.
I can open them successfully without problems in a pdf reader.

So how can I convert sparse files into non-sparse files?



Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Since I have never heard that term before, I will provide this link. Maybe others here know about them.

Sparse Files


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

Since you can open them I would try just opening them in an appropriate program, i.e. Acrobat Reader for the PDF files and re-saving them to a new folder.

See if they become normal PDF files.

As for the AVI files I can open and save them in Premiere Elements and re-save them but I'm not sure what software you have.

I had a program before I did my recant reinstall that analysed AVI files and converter them to different versions of AVI files but I'm going blank at the moment.

If I can find it I'll come back and post the link.

I think this will do it...

I removed this link because I got malware when I tried to download it.

Look for a good link to Virtual Dub, it will convert AVI files to pretty much anything.


Last edited:


Essential Member
Premium Supporter
Mikes suggestion could work for PDFs. As I understand it, Sparse files are supposed to be a very efficient way od compressing, but I don't get it. It obviously works for PDFs, as you are succesfully opening them. But I believe it strips the visual content of Avis, leaving only the headers. Ihope I am wrong, but I doubt you will be able to get any use from them.
But, you have no idea what program made the files? I suspect an online game? Perhaps you could move them all to a temporary folder and see if there is anything not working on your computer after a few days.


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Try Any Video Converter for the AVI files and see if that works...

Any Video Converter -

I have used it when I had AVI files that wouldn't open in certain programs and it made them readable.
If it can open the AVI files that you have it should be able to save them in a normal format.

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