top of page

3ds Max tutorial on how to save hard disk space

3ds Max tutorial : how to save hard disk space and memory usage.

Assalaamualaikum. My name is Widhi Muttaqien. In this 3ds max tutorial we’re going to cover several methods to save hard disk space when working with 3ds Max. We’re going to cover 3 things: file compression, instantiation and proxy.

File compression

Okay first about file compression. It is hard to believe that a lot of 3ds max users don’t know that there is a file compression feature built in into 3ds max. And that feature is turned off by default.

To turn that thing on you need to go to “customize menu” then “preference” and then click in this files tab. Down here you’ll find “compress on save” option. Click the check box to turn it on.

Now when you save the file it looks like 3ds max saving it as ordinary “.MAX” file just like before, but if you look closely the file size of it will be significantly smaller than before.

For example I have this scene from one of my project. When I save it without compression it takes about 17 MB but with “compress on save” option turn on 3ds max able save the file to only about 6 MB file size. That is almost one third of the original file size. For one file you may not get significant benefit but just imagine if you have hundreds of max files taking up to 3 TB disk space before, now you can save it in only 1 TB space that is 2 TB of disk space saving. That’s a huge difference.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 002

The nice thing about this method is that you don’t need to use or install other file compression software and your 3ds max file is still in dot MAX format and not in other format.


When you have identical objects scattered around your scene, it is best to use instance instead of copy. By using instances you basically tell 3ds max to save the object’s geometry once in the memory but display it several times. Beside impact to RAM usage and rendering time, the impact to file size is also big. Lets take a look at this example.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 003

In this scene I have these 1000 teapots, they are editable poly objects, and they are all independent objects, meaning they are not instances. When I save the file I have this 83 MB file size.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 004

Now! we have the same scene setup with 1000 teapot editable objects, but right now all of them are instances to each other. When I save the file it only takes around two megabytes! Huge different if you’re working with exceedingly numerous objects in your scene. This is because, again, as I explain before, Instances will enable 3ds max to save the geometry information only once although displaying it multiple times.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 005

Ok so now how can we create instances? We create them when cloning objects. Lets say we want to have a lot of trees from 1 tree object. Simply click to select it and hold shift then move it to another position. Now look at the option we have copy, instance and reference. If the tree’s geometry will be identical from one to another. We always want to go for instance not copy.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 006

Later we can scale each instances independently, or rotate it or move it with no problem. Each instance has their own unique transformation. So we can use this as our advantages, we can move it and rotate them a bit and give different scale values so we have more variation and the scene looks more natural. There are scripts and plugins that can do this for us but that will be for another tutorial in-sha-Allah.


Okay! Our next discussion in this 3ds Max tutorial is about proxy. Lets define what is proxy first. in terms of 3d animation; proxy is a dummy object in our scene used to represent the real 3D model from external sources. We use proxy usually together with instancing. So we use it for the things that are repeatable in our scene and we use them again and again for different projects. In architectural visualization projects for example we use proxies for 3D trees, 3D people or crowd, cars etc. Usually we set proxies to show up in the viewports as low resolution objects such as box or point clouds but when you hit the render button they will show up as the original high resolution objects. So, proxy is used mainly for saving RAM usage but it works very well also for saving hard disk space.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 007

To make things more clear? Let say we have a 3ds max file, inside it a scene with a lot of 3d objects needed for a finished project. Now the total of the 3ds max file size is 100 mb, the number is just for example only.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 008

With proxy we can take out the tree type number 1 geometry, put in the library folder and replace the object in the scene with a proxy object, then we do the same with tree type number 2 and so on and so forth. And then we take out the cars and people models and replace them with proxy again. Okay.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 009

Now this setup will have big advantages: First the 3ds max file size reduced significantly. And then If later we save the file to version 2 then 3 and so on; the benefit effect will be multiplied and more hard disk space are being saved because we don’t need additional disk space for saving these objects again. And then… if we have a new project that use the same library object of trees, cars and 3d people as before. We simply create proxies from these external library files. So as you can see utilizing proxies in your projects can give you a ton of benefits and one of them is saving your system’s disk space.

3ds max tutorial save hard disk space image 010

Okay the next question is “how can we create proxy?” Mostly proxy are technology provided by rendering engines. So if you are working with mental ray you can create mental ray proxy. If you use VRay, you can create VRay proxy. Or if you are like me who choose Corona renderer, you can create Corona proxy. I believe every rendering engines have their own way of creating proxy. I’m not going into the technical details about how to create this proxy, just enough for us to see the big picture and understand why proxies are an important part of CG workflow nowadays.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos like the one at the top of the page.

3D visualization workshop final project with 3DS MAX and corona rendering engine

If you want to learn 3ds max from scratch, no prior experience needed and be able to create this interior scene. Be sure to check out my Udemy course: 3d visualization for beginners. I have 50% discount available for you.

That is all. I hope this 3ds Max tutorial help you some how. Wassalaamualaikum.

#filecompression #3dsmax #savememory #instance #proxy #saveharddrive #saveharddisk

bottom of page