How do I break a large, +4GB file into smaller files of about 500MB each.

And how do I re-assemble them again to get the original file?


2 Answers 2


You can use split and cat.

For example something like

$ split --bytes 500M --numeric-suffixes --suffix-length=3 foo foo.

(where the input filename is foo and the last argument is the output prefix). This will create files like foo.000 foo.001 ...

The same command with short options:

$ split -b 100k -d -a 3 foo foo

You can also specify "--line-bytes" if you wish it to split on line boundaries instead of just exact number of bytes.

For re-assembling the generated pieces again you can use e.g.:

$ cat foo.* > foo_2

(assuming that the shell sorts the results of shell globbing - and the number of parts does not exceed the system dependent limit of arguments)

You can compare the result via:

$ cmp foo foo_2
$ echo $?

(which should output 0)

Alternatively, you can use a combination of find/sort/xargs to re-assemble the pieces:

$ find -maxdepth 1 -type f -name 'foo.*'  | sort | xargs cat > foo_3
  • 2
    Try this command: man split cat md5sum
    – Kevin M
    Sep 4, 2010 at 19:13
  • 6
    When assembling, I recommend cat foo.{000..NNN} where NNN is the last expected piece. That way you get an error message if one of the pieces is missing. But note that -d to get numeric suffixes is specific to GNU split; on other platforms you have to make do with foo.aaa, foo.aab, etc. Oct 17, 2010 at 11:16
  • 2
    And bear in mind that, for split, KB = 1000, K = 1024, MB = 1000*1000, M = 1024*1024 etc.
    – Zorawar
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:05
  • 1
    Shouldn't this ... cat > foo_3 be ... cat >>foo_3?
    – alk
    Jul 8, 2015 at 12:10
  • 1
    If you decide to ease pain by using a utility. rar and 7zip are often used in making such splits easier to reassemble cross-platform
    – infixed
    Jun 3, 2016 at 18:05

You can also do this with Archive Manager if you prefer a GUI. Look under 'Save->Other Options->Split into volumes of'.

  • 7
    i tagged it 'command-line', but thanks for the answer :)
    – Stefan
    Sep 5, 2010 at 19:25

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