GoPro Split Files? Why are my GoPro Files Broken Up?!

All GoPro cameras split long video files on the memory card by doing something called chaptering. As annoying as this is, there is a good reason why your GoPro video files are broken up.

Long GoPro Files Broken Up

If you record a long session on your GoPro (let's say 30 minutes), you would expect to have a 30-minute long video clip on your MicroSD card, right? Of course, you would expect that… so it's very common for new GoPro owners to
but GoPro cameras are designed to split long video files, essentially taking one long video clip and segmenting it so it's broken up into multiple video files.

January is “what the fudge” month over on the VidProMom YouTube channel and here on the blog… I'm answering some common yet totally confusing GoPro questions that I hear from new GoPro owners often. Recently I covered “what are LRV and THM files?” and “what's up with the HEVC h.265 video format on the new Hero6 cameras?“. Today's wtf question is the answer to why long GoPro video files are split or broken up on the memory card.

Why does my GoPro split up video files?

If you own a GoPro, you probably own a microSD card that you put into your camera, and then your video files are recorded onto that card. Right? If you've never seen this happen before, you might look at your gopro files and think something must be wrong. Your long GoPro files will be split up between multiple files instead of one long file.

Gopro Time Lapse Files Broken Up On The Memory Card

There's nothing wrong with your GoPro or your memory card if this is happening. It's actually totally normal.

Some new GoPro owners think their GoPro stopped recording automatically, then started again, but this is not the case here. Your GoPro didn't stop recording, it kept recording without losing even a nanosecond, but what it did was started a new file. If you recorded for a long session, like an hour, it's going to start multiple new files. This is called file chaptering.

File Chaptering on the GoPro

Your GoPro camera does something called file chaptering, and it does this in 4GB-sized “chunks” (in most cases). So it could be a 17-minute file or a 12-minute clip. It really depends on your video capture settings, because it's not the length of those video clips that we're talking here, it's size – the capacity of that “chunk” of data.

Now you should find that if you view your video file on your camera, it should play back the whole video as one video. But when you pull those files off your card onto your computer, you will have those multiple files.

I've been avoiding writing a blog post on this exact topic for a long time because every time I started doing some research to try and understand why the files are broken up like this… it get's really complicated, and it's hard to find a concrete answer as to whether it's the camera, or if it's the memory card and the file system on the memory card.

Maybe it's both, but I will spare you most of the nerdy details, and tell you what GoPro says about this on their website:

“When taking a video recording, the camera will automatically segment into a new file chapter once it has reached a certain size… This chaptering is intentional and there is no way to keep the camera from doing so. Chapters are divided like this so in the event of a jolt or crash that causes a file to become corrupted, only a portion of your video will be effected and not the whole thing. While there is a file recovery feature in the camera, chaptering is a precaution step just in case the feature is unable to fix the video.”

And that page goes on to tell you what which cameras will chapter at 4GB and which ones will chapter at 2.2 GB.

Gopro's File Chaptering Information... The Answer To Why Long Gopro Files Are Broken Up And Split On The Memory Card

via gopro.com

So, taking a look at some video files I have of a sunset I shot, I have a bunch of chapters here, and the first video is GOPR0135.mp4, and the next is GP010135.mp4, then GP020135, on up to GP060135.mp4.

Gopro File Chaptering Split Up On Memory Card

Join Split GoPro Files back Together

If you want to take those broken up, split files and join them together, you'll have to use a video editing program, like Premiere Elements, VSDC, iMovie, etc.

Related: GoPro editing software for Beginners

I have several tutorials here on my site for using video editing software for basic edits. For example if you're on a Mac, you can easily use iMovie to stitch your clips together and export them as one video.

There is a page on GoPro's website that outlines the naming convention of their files, and I trying to make sense of the file chaptering naming convention will drive you mad.

To be completely honest… I think GoPro could easily have simplified their naming convention for the user. Allow me to illustrate:

Gopro Chaptering File Naming Convention Ideas From Vidpromom

This is a little bit of a rant but seriously, GoPro, consider this:

  • Put the chapter number AFTER the filename. This would help sort through files easier and help users spot chaptered files. Throw an underscore in there for extra clarity. Example: GP0123_01, GP0123_02, etc.
  • Completely eliminate the use of the capital letter “O” in your file names. Is it an O or is it a zero? Using zeros makes sense, but you have to throw the “O” in there for what, branding purposes? Come on, man…
  • How about using a naming convention that sticks to the actual naming convention. Instead of the first file being “GOPR0123” and the chaptered files being “GP010123,” “GP020123,” just eliminate the O and start all files the same.

Split GoPro files does seem annoying at first, but you get used to it, and honestly… there is no much that can be done to avoid it, other than not letting your GoPro roll for long periods of time. Do the broken up files bother you? Let me know in the comments!

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