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Mastering the Linux Tar Command: A Guide to Archive Creation and Extraction

📆 · ⏳ 3 min read · · 👀


Archiving files is a common task in the world of computing. Whether you’re transferring large files between computers or storing files for long-term storage, you’ll need a way to compress and package them into a single file. The Linux tar command is one of the most powerful tools available for this purpose.

The tar command is short for “tape archive” and was originally designed to create archives of files for backup purposes. However, over time, it has become a popular tool for compressing and packaging files for various applications.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of using the tar command to create and extract archive files on Linux.

Using the Linux Tar Command for Archive Creation

To create a new archive file using the tar command, you’ll need to specify the name of the archive file and the files you want to include in the archive.

The basic syntax for creating an archive file is as follows:

Terminal window
tar -cvf archive.tar file1 file2 file3

In this example, we’re creating an archive file called “archive.tar” and including three files named “file1”, “file2”, and “file3” in the archive.

The -c option tells tar to create a new archive file, and the -v option is used to print the names of the files as they’re added to the archive.

You can also use wildcards to include multiple files in the archive. For example, the following command will include all files with the .txt extension in the current directory in the archive:

Terminal window
tar -cvf archive.tar *.txt

Once you’ve created an archive file, you can use the tar command to list the contents of the archive using the -t option:

Terminal window
tar -tvf archive.tar

Using the Linux Tar Command for Archive Extraction

To extract files from an archive created using the tar command, you’ll need to specify the name of the archive file and the directory where you want to extract the files.

The basic syntax for extracting files from an archive is as follows:

Terminal window
tar -xvf archive.tar -C /path/to/extract

In this example, we’re extracting files from the “archive.tar” file and placing them in the “/path/to/extract” directory.

The -x option tells tar to extract files from the archive, and the -C option specifies the directory where the files should be extracted.

You can also use the -t option to list the contents of an archive file without extracting it:

Terminal window
tar -tvf archive.tar


The Linux tar command is a powerful tool for creating and extracting archive files on Linux. By mastering this command, you can easily package and compress files for transfer or long-term storage.

I hope this article has provided you with a solid understanding of the tar command and its capabilities. Happy archiving!

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