Tar Command Examples in Linux


Are you looking to become a Linux pro and master the art of archiving and compressing files? Look no further! In this extensive guide, we’ll explore the Tar command in Linux, break down its uses in simple terms, and provide you with practical examples. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll have a deep understanding of Tar and its various options, all while ensuring that your content is SEO-friendly.

1. What is the Tar Command?

The Tar command in Linux is a versatile utility used for creating, managing, and extracting archives. “Tar” stands for “tape archive,” reflecting its historical roots when files were stored on tapes. Nowadays, it is commonly used to bundle files and directories into a single archive file, which can then be compressed for efficient storage or transmission.

2. Basic Tar Usage

To use the Tar command, open your terminal or command prompt. The basic syntax is as follows:

tar [options] [archive_name] [files/directories...]
  • options: These are optional and modify the behavior of the Tar command.
  • archive_name: This is the name of the archive you want to create or manipulate.
  • files/directories...: These are the files or directories you want to include in the archive.

3. Creating Tar Archives

Creating a Tar archive is as simple as specifying a name for the archive and listing the files or directories you want to include. For example, to create an archive named “my_archive.tar” containing two files, “file1.txt” and “file2.txt,” use the following command:

tar -cvf my_archive.tar file1.txt file2.txt

The -c option stands for “create,” while -v stands for “verbose,” providing you with details of the files being added to the archive.

4. Extracting Tar Archives

To extract the contents of a Tar archive, use the -x option. For instance, to extract the contents of “my_archive.tar” to the current directory, use:

tar -xvf my_archive.tar

This command will recreate the files “file1.txt” and “file2.txt” in your current directory.

5. Viewing Tar Archives

If you want to view the contents of a Tar archive without extracting them, you can use the -t option. For example:

tar -tvf my_archive.tar

This command will display a list of files and directories within “my_archive.tar.”

6. Compressing Tar Archives

To compress a Tar archive, you can use various compression tools like gzip or bzip2 in combination with Tar. For instance, to create a compressed Tar archive named “my_archive.tar.gz,” you can use the following command:

tar -czvf my_archive.tar.gz files/

Here, -z tells Tar to use gzip compression. This will create a smaller archive file suitable for efficient storage and transmission.

7. Extracting Compressed Tar Archives

To extract a compressed Tar archive, you need to specify both the compression and extraction options. For example, to extract “my_archive.tar.gz” to the current directory, use:

tar -xzvf my_archive.tar.gz

This command will extract the contents of the compressed archive, recreating the original files and directories.

8. Tar Command Options

The Tar command offers a plethora of options to tailor your archiving and extraction needs. Here are some commonly used ones:

  • -c: Create a new archive.
  • -x: Extract files from an archive.
  • -t: List the contents of an archive.
  • -v: Verbose mode, providing details about the process.
  • -f: Specify the archive file’s name.
  • -z: Use gzip compression.
  • -j: Use bzip2 compression.
  • -r: Append files to an existing archive.
  • -u: Update files in an existing archive.
  • -A: Concatenate multiple archives.
  • -C: Change to a specified directory before performing operations.
  • --delete: Remove files from an archive.
  • --strip-components: Remove leading directory components when extracting.

9. Archiving Directories

To archive entire directories, simply provide the directory name as an argument. For example, to create an archive of a directory named “my_directory,” use:

tar -cvf my_archive.tar my_directory/

This command will include all files and subdirectories within “my_directory” in the archive.

10. Handling Permissions and Ownership

Tar preserves file permissions and ownership by default. This means that when you extract files from an archive, they retain their original permissions and ownership information. However, there may be cases where you want to extract files as a different user or maintain specific permissions.

To extract files with specific permissions, you can use the --no-same-owner and --no-same-permissions options to prevent Tar from preserving ownership and permissions. For example:

tar --no-same-owner --no-same-permissions -xvf my_archive.tar

This command extracts the files without preserving ownership and permissions.


You’ve reached the end of this comprehensive guide on the Tar command in Linux. Congratulations! You now have a solid understanding of how to create, extract, view, compress, and manage archives using Tar. With its extensive range of options, you can customize your archiving and extraction processes to suit your needs.

As you continue to explore Linux, practice with different files and directories to become a Tar expert. Remember that Tar is an essential tool for efficiently managing files and backups in a Linux environment. Happy archiving!

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