Are Vector Files Lossy or Lossless?

Graphic designers may opt for vector files during their design processes. Vector files offer different features than other file types, such as raster files. Of these features, whether a file type is lossy or lossless has an impact on its usefulness. So, are vector files lossy or lossless?

Technically, vector files are lossless. However, how a vector file is used determines if it is lossy. It is not whether a file is a vector or raster that determines if it is lossy or lossless. Vector describes the way a file is made up. The actual file type tells if it is lossy or lossless.

Continue reading to learn more about whether vector files are lossy or lossless as well as other advantages of using vector files. You may not always choose vector files, but they certainly have attributes that can support your graphic design needs. Learning everything you can about differences in file types can help boost your knowledge and abilities concerning graphic design.

Are Vector Files Lossy or Lossless?

Vector images display image quality based on mathematical equations that make up a file. As opposed to raster images that use individual pixels, vector files use mathematical features that maintain the quality of an image. 

So, technically, file types used as vector files should be lossless, meaning that when they are saved or stored, they will not lose quality. The mathematical formulas implemented into vector files allow them to alter anything that needs changing to ensure that the image does not lose quality. As lossless format reflects an image that does not lose any components, vector files could be labeled as such.

As you will learn later, there are specific file types that are often saved as vector files. Although, some file types can be saved either as vector files or raster files. It all depends on your purpose for using a file, uploading an image, etc.

When considering the most common file type for vector files, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) are typically the answer. SVG files are preferred among many graphic designers when designing a website. SVG files are great for images and animations of various sizes as they maintain the resolution of the original product. Because of the mathematical equations involved in vector files and other attributes of SVG files, they make for great displays on different search engines.

Are Vector Files Compressed or Uncompressed?

Whether a vector file is compressed or uncompressed is similarly decided in the way that it is lossless. The more specific file type determines compression, but because of the mathematics used to maintain the quality of an image saved as a vector file, compression is not a huge distinction.

Vector files are not technically compressed or uncompressed when they are stored. They are saved as listed attributes that essentially save the information and recreate the exact same image, regardless of whether the newly uploaded image is enlarged or not.

One of the largest advantages of vector files is that no matter how small the saved image is, it can be scaled upward and maintain the same resolution. Vector images are widely used, from website designing to printed advertisements. There is a high chance that a billboard you see on the interstate was printed after being saved as a vector file. Even after having been saved as a small image on a computer, the image can be resized without having to worry about loss of quality.

How Do Vector Files Compare to Raster Files?

Vector files are preferred over raster files in some circumstances, while the outcome may be different in others. As mentioned, for things such as printing an image much larger than the saved file or designing a website, vector images are often the better choice. On the other hand, raster files – files saved as individual pixels that make up an image – can be useful but may lose some components upon saving and converting.

Which Formats Do Vector Files Come In

Like raster files, vector files have a subset of file types that they can be converted into. Below are the most common types of raster files that you may use as a graphic designer:

  • Scalable vector graphics (SVG)
  • Portable document format (PDF)
  • Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)

Based on your use of vector files, the file type you choose to save your image as may vary. In any case, the most common file type for vector files is typically SVG, which makes for great results on computer uploads and designs.


Vector files, in essence, are lossless, though the file type used can affect their capabilities. Still, vector files maintain pristine image quality and therefore make for great file types when image clarity is of the utmost importance.