Split large files into a number of smaller files in Unix

To split large files into smaller files in Unix, use the split command. At the Unix prompt, enter:

  split [options] filename prefix

Replace filename with the name of the large file you wish to split. Replace prefix with the name you wish to give the small output files. You can exclude [options], or replace it with either of the following:

  -l linenumber

  -b bytes

If you use the -l (a lowercase L) option, replace linenumber with the number of lines you'd like in each of the smaller files (the default is 1,000). If you use the -b option, replace bytes with the number of bytes you'd like in each of the smaller files.

The split command will give each output file it creates the name prefix with an extension tacked to the end that indicates its order. By default, the split command adds aa to the first output file, proceeding through the alphabet to zz for subsequent files. If you do not specify a prefix, most systems use x.

Examples

  • In this simple example, assume myfile is 3,000 lines long:
      split myfile

    This will output three 1000-line files: xaa, xab, and xac.

  • Working on the same file, this next example is more complex:
      split -l 500 myfile segment

    This will output six 500-line files: segmentaa, segmentab, segmentac, segmentad, segmentae, and segmentaf.

  • Finally, assume myfile is a 160KB file:
      split -b 40k myfile segment

    This will output four 40KB files: segmentaa, segmentab, segmentac, and segmentad.

For more information, consult the man page for the split command. At the Unix prompt, enter:

  man split

You may also wish to investigate the csplit command, which splits files based on context. For more information, see the man page for the csplit command. At the Unix prompt, enter:

  man csplit

At Indiana University, for personal or departmental Linux or Unix systems support, see At IU, how do I get support for Linux or Unix?

This is document afar in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2017-12-20 14:55:36.

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