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File format

The gzip file (.gz) format consists of:

  • a file header
  • optional headers
    • extra fields
    • original file name
    • comment
    • header checksum
  • a body, containing a DEFLATE-compressed payload
  • a file footer

File header

The file header is 10 bytes in size and contains:

Offset Size Value Description
0 2 0x1f 0x8b Signature (or identification byte 1 and 2)
2 1 Compression Method
3 1 Flags
4 4 Last modification time
Contains a POSIX timestamp.
8 1 Extra flags
9 1 Operating system
Value that indicates on which operating system the gzip file was created.

Compression method

Value Identifier Description
0 - 7 Reserved
8 "deflate" zlib compressed data


Value Identifier Description
0x01 FTEXT If set the uncompressed data needs to be treated as text instead of binary data.
This flag hints end-of-line conversion for cross-platform text files but does not enforce it.
0x02 FHCRC The file contains a header checksum (CRC-16)
0x04 FEXTRA The file contains extra fields
0x08 FNAME The file contains an original file name string
0x10 FCOMMENT The file contains comment
0x20 Reserved
0x40 Reserved
0x80 Reserved

Note: The FHCRC bit was never set by versions of gzip up to 1.2.4, even though it was documented with a different meaning in gzip 1.2.4.

Extra flags

If compression method is 8 the following extra flags can be defined:

Value Identifier Description
0x02 compressor used maximum compression, slowest algorithm
0x04 compressor used fastest algorithm

Operating System

Value Identifier Description
0 FAT filesystem (MS-DOS, OS/2, NT/Win32)
1 Amiga
2 VMS (or OpenVMS)
3 Unix
5 Atari TOS
6 HPFS filesystem (OS/2, NT)
7 Macintosh
8 Z-System
9 CP/M
10 TOPS-20
11 NTFS filesystem (NT)
13 Acorn RISCOS
255 unknown

Optional headers

Extra fields

TODO: add description

The extra field are variable of size and contains:

Offset Size Value Description
0 2 Extra field data size
Value in bytes.
2 ... Extra field data

Original file name

This is the original name of the file being compressed, with any directory components removed, and, if the file being compressed is on a file system with case insensitive names, forced to lower case.

Contains an ISO 8859-1 (LATIN-1) string with end-of-string character.


Contains an ISO 8859-1 (LATIN-1) string with end-of-string character. Line breaks should be denoted by a single line feed character.

Header checksum

The header checksum contain a CRC-16 that consists of the two least significant bytes of the CRC-32 for all bytes of the gzip header up to and not including the CRC-16.

File footer

The file footer is 8 bytes in size and contains:

Offset Size Value Description
0 4 Checksum (CRC-32)
4 4 Uncompressed data size
Value in bytes.

See Also

External Links