The default behavior of gunzip is to delete the .gz file after it decompresses.

How do I prevent it from deleting the file??

If this functionality is not included then is there an alternative program that allows this?

I'm using Ubuntu 9.04

  • 3
    use the following command: gunzip -k – fazineroso Aug 3 '15 at 13:45
  • what gunzip has -k option? I see no one. – Znik Nov 27 '15 at 14:42
  • 1
    @Znik, gzip/gunzip version 1.6 and higher has the option -k. – aleksandr barakin Sep 14 '16 at 11:48

You're looking for:

gzcat x.txt.gz >x.txt

The gzcat command is equivalent to gunzip -c which simply writes the output stream to stdout. This will leave the compressed file untouched. So you can also use:

gunzip -c x.txt.gz >x.txt

Note that on some systems gzcat is also known as zcat so run like this instead:

zcat x.txt.gz >x.txt
  • 2
    Thanks for the answer. Growing up with pkunzip in DOS I find it so strange that there isn't an option to keep the file. Especially with a tool like gzip being so widely used... just weird. – Sen Sep 23 '09 at 14:59
  • 4
    FYI, I actually don't have gzcat. Neither my local system or the system I was ssh'ed into. So, I have to use gunzip -c – Sen Sep 23 '09 at 16:15
  • 26
    it's probably just zcat on your system. – user23307 Jan 31 '10 at 14:52
  • 2
    An additional option to keep the file would be nice indeed. For example, b(un)zip2 uses similar syntax and allows to simply add -k to keep the original file. – schnaader Sep 8 '11 at 20:19
  • 1
    You can also add the line alias gzcat="gunzip -c" to your .bashrc – James Kingsbery Mar 30 '12 at 20:04

You can use the -c option of gunzip which writes the output to stdout, and then pipe it to the file of your choice:

gunzip -c compressed-file.gz > decompressed-file

More details on the manual page.

  • By the way, note that the man page referred to above lists a -k option, which means keep input files. Maybe this works on the BSD version, but it doesn't on mine, so the -c solution seems to be the correct one. – user49260 Sep 13 '10 at 22:01

A simpler solution is to just use gunzip as a filter like this:

gunzip < myfile.gz > myfile
  • I think this is the cleanest way since gunzip never knows what file it's getting, all it sees is a stream of data, so can't possibly alter the original file. – Walf Dec 9 '16 at 1:11

If it's actually a tarball (.tgz or .tar.gz extension), then instead of redirecting to file like all of the answers so far, you'll want to pipe it to tar, like so:

gunzip -c myfile.tar.gz | tar xvf -

so that you get the actual contents.

  • 7
    or just do: tar xzvf myfile.tar.gz – Joakim Elofsson Sep 23 '09 at 17:39
  • true, but only if you have GNU tar. The one that comes with Solaris, for example, doesn't support the z option. – Alex Sep 23 '09 at 20:01

Use the -c option to uncompress the file to stdout. It will not touch the original file.

gunzip -c myfile.gz > myfile
gzip -dk myfile.gz


gunzip -k myfile.gz


   -k --keep    Keep (don't delete) input files during compression or decompression.

Gnu tar can read gzip files: tar -zxsvf myfile.tar.gz or tar -jxzvf myfile.tar.bz2 for bzipped tar files.

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