Have your ever wished that you could split a really large video, zip, backup or MP3 file into smaller files so that you can copy it to multiple DVDs or USB sticks or maybe email it to someone?  These days there isn’t as much of a need to split files as there was 10 years ago, but there some cases where the ability comes in handy. If you run your own FTP server and you have friends and family download content off of it, it might be smart to split really huge files into smaller chunks in case the connection fails during a transfer. Luckily, there are a few free tools that you can use to split and merge files quickly and easily.

One newer program that works all the way up to Windows 7 is HJ-Split. It’s free and very easy to use. Once you install it, just click on the big Split button to get started. In addition to splitting and joining files, it’s got a couple of other useful functions like Compare and Checksum. Compare will just tell you if the files are exactly the same or not. Checksum will let you generate an MD5 checksum for a file, which you can use to give to others to ensure the integrity of the file.

split files

Now you’ll need to pick the input file and the output location. By default, the output location is in the same folder as the original file. You also have to choose the size chunks you want for the split files. By default, it’s set to something like 1400 KB, which is really tiny. In my case, I had a 3.5 GB ISO file and I wanted to split it up into smaller pieces of 500 MB each.

hjsplit file

Depending on the size of your file and how you want it split, it could take a while for the program to finish the splitting process. The program will append an .001, .002, .003, etc to each split part. At this point, you can move, email, or transfer them to their final location and someone else needs to run the program and click the Join button. When they click the Join button and go to browse for the split files, it will only show the .001 file, so select that. Make sure all the other parts are in the same directory as the .001 file.

Another good one is File Splitter, a freeware program that does not require any installation to use and that has default settings to split a file for a floppy disk, zip drive, CD, DVD, or custom size. It’s a bit older and hasn’t been updated since 2008, but it still works well. Since it requires no installation, it’s a handy tool to carry on a USB stick, so that you can use it a friends place, at work, or at school if you need it. Even if the computers have restrictions that does not allow software to be installed, you can still run this program.

Once downloaded, open the program and choose the big file that you want to split.

The source file can be of any size or any type. Remember though, this program does NOT split a video file into smaller video clips that you can then play separately. It simply looks at the data and pulls it apart! In order to open the file again, you HAVE to re-join them. So you cannot, for example, take an MP3 file and split it into three files and then play each file on its own. Same is true for HJ-Split.

Actually, when a file is split using File Splitter, the program creates files with a .chunkXXX appended to the file name. So if you split a file called reallylargefile.avi into 2 pieces, the program will create reallylargefile.avi.chunk001 and reallylargefile.avi.chunk002. So as you can see, these files obviously cannot be opened by Windows or any other program except for File Splitter.

In order to join your files back together, open File Splitter and click on the Join Files tab.

The nice thing about this program is that you can select any of the chunks in the set and File Splitter will locate the other files and join them together into the destination file. If you’re confused as to what destination file it’s asking for, it is going to be a new file, so you click Browse and enter the name for your new file and also type in the file extension.

The only thing that I wish this program did for you is to automatically know the file type when rejoining the files. As of now, if you split a file called bigfile.exe, when you join it, you need to type in bigfile.exe as the destination file, otherwise it will simply be bigfile and Windows will not be able to open it. So just remember that one caveat. HJ-Split remembers the file name, so you don’t have to manually type that in.

If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!