One of the most common ways to quickly and effectively compress files on a Linx server such as Ubuntu us the combination of TAR GZIP. When moving directories between servers this is far faster to compress, transfer and expand — compared to raw transfer of files.
Here is an example of how I used the command recently to move some files between web hosting servers.
tar -czvf name-of-archive.tar.gz /path/to/directory-or-file
Then using normal FTP I copied this file to my local machine before uploading it to my destination server.
tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz