The gzip Recovery Toolkit

So you thought you had your files backed up - until it came time to restore. Then you found out that you had bad sectors and you've lost almost everything because gzip craps out 10% of the way through your archive. The gzip Recovery Toolkit has a program - gzrecover - that attempts to skip over bad data in a gzip archive. This saved me from exactly the above situation. Hopefully it will help you as well.

I'm very eager for feedback on this program. If you download and try it, I'd appreciate and email letting me know what your results were. My email is Thanks.


99% of "corrupted" gzip archives are caused by transferring the file via FTP in ASCII mode instead of binary mode. Please re-transfer the file in the correct mode first before attempting to recover from a file you believe is corrupted.

Disclaimer and Warning

This program is provided AS IS with absolutely NO WARRANTY. It is not guaranteed to recover anything from your file, nor is what it does recover guaranteed to be good data. The bigger your file, the more likely that something will be extracted from it. Also keep in mind that this program gets faked out and is likely to "recover" some bad data. Everything should be manually verified.

Downloading and Installing

Note that version 0.8 contains major bug fixes and improvements. See the ChangeLog for details. Upgrading is recommended. The old version is provided in the event you run into troubles with the new release.

You need the following packages:

First, build and install zlib if necessary. Next, unpack the gzrt sources. Then cd to the gzrt directory and build the gzrecover program by typing make. Install manually by copying to the directory of your choice.


Run gzrecover on a corrupted .gz file. If you leave the filename blank, gzrecover will read from the standard input. Anything that can be read from the file will be written to a file with the same name, but with a .recovered appended (any .gz is stripped). You can override this with the -o option. The default filename when reading from the standard input is "stdin.recovered". To write recovered data to the standard output, use the -p option. (Note that -p and -o cannot be used together).

To get a verbose readout of exactly where gzrecover is finding bad bytes, use the -v option to enable verbose mode. This will probably overflow your screen with text so best to redirect the stderr stream to a file. Once gzrecover has finished, you will need to manually verify any data recovered as it is quite likely that our output file is corrupt and has some garbage data in it. Note that gzrecover will take longer than regular gunzip. The more corrupt your data the longer it takes. If your archive is a tarball, read on.

For tarballs, the tar program will choke because GNU tar cannot handle errors in the file format. Fortunately, GNU cpio (tested at version 2.6 or higher) handles corrupted files out of the box.

Here's an example:

$ ls *.gz
$ gzrecover my-corrupted-backup.tar.gz
$ ls *.recovered
$ cpio -F my-corrupted-backup.tar.recovered -i -v

Note that newer versions of cpio can spew voluminous error messages to your terminal. You may want to redirect the stderr stream to /dev/null. Also, cpio might take quite a long while to run.


The gzip Recovery Toolkit v0.8
Copyright (c) 2002-2013 Aaron M. Renn (

The gzrecover program is licensed under the GNU General Public License.

Copyright © 2003-2013 Aaron M. Renn ( All Rights Reserved