In this day and age of digital downloads, I have more of a need to backup my purchases than ever before. It used to be, when purchasing a CD or movie, that I could copy the files to my hard drive for viewing or listening on the computer, and put the original disc away for safe-keeping. With the iTunes Store, Amazon MP3 and other digital services, that’s no longer an option. With most of those stores, once you’ve downloaded your purchase, there is no other download. The iTunes Store isn’t a backup for your purchases (if you lose your downloaded copy, they won’t let you download another copy without purchasing it again, just like Best Buy won’t replace your lost CD for free), so I’ve needed to come up with another backup solution. Generally I’ll backup my purchases to an external hard drive, but I’ll also backup my purchases to a place like Mediafire, which lets me store files on the Web.
The problem with backing up to Mediafire and other file storage websites (especially for those using the free account option), is that there is a size limit. Sometimes the limit is as small as 100 MB, which for a cd in full quality (FLAC or another lossless codec), means you can’t upload it. Unless you split the file. There are many ways to split files. RAR files can be split into equal-sized chunks at creation, but even after a file has been created, it can be split. Linux users actually have a program called “split” which is able to take a large file and split it into chunks based on size. Now, however, for those looking for a helpful, friendly way to do this (“split” is a commandline tool which is used strictly from the Terminal), a program called GNOME Split has come to the rescue.
And GNOME Split is really user-friendly. When you first start it up you’ll get a little window asking you whether you want to split a file or merge several files which have already been split. If you don’t want to see this assistant in the future, just uncheck the “Show the assistant on start” box and you’ll always be taken to the main interface. The main interface offers the same features, and more. From here you can split or merge a file, as well as tell GNOME Split where you want the resulting files to be saved.
You also have options as far as HOW you want to split your files. You can simply create “x” number of chunks (all of which would be the same size), or you can choose a target file size in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes or gigabytes, as well as standard sizes (the 700 MB CD-R and the 4.7 GB DVD-R). Using this option is as simple as choosing the measurement unit, and how many of those units you want. For instance, if uploading to a website that doesn’t allow files larger than 100 MB, you would simply choose the MB option, then type in 100 before that, and when you split your file, the resulting chunks would be exactly the right size.
GNOME Split also offers different algorithms you can use when splitting your files. Many of these help make GNOME Split compatible with other splitting programs. It offers a generic split (this is what you would accomplish using the commandline “split” utility), the GNOME Split algorithm, as well as Xtremsplit, KFK and YoyoCut.
Finally, there are many options is the preferences that allow you to tailor GNOME Split to exactly the way you’ll use it. You can choose here whether or not to show the assistant, and whether the default option should be to split or to merge. If you want to be able to run multiple split or merge operations at once, you can choose to allow multiple instances of GNOME Split in order to accomplish this. Also handy is the ability to create a MD5 checksum, which allows you, once files are merged, to check that the resulting file is identical to the original. You also have the option to let GNOME Split inhibit any screensavers or other power saving measures, along with receiving desktop notifications when an operation is complete, and if you’d rather hide GNOME Split from view while splitting or merging, you can have it show an icon in the panel, for simple click-and-it’s-gone, click-and-it’s-back operations.
GNOME Split really doesn’t offer anything that can’t be done from the commandline, but it’s not always easy to remember the exact syntax of a program, so in my view GNOME Split definitely serves a need. It makes it simple to accomplish a job with a helpful GUI that turns a chore into a simple task.