in Linux, Random, Ubuntu

How to Compress and Extract Files Using the tar Command on Linux


Compress an Entire Directory or a Single File

Use the following command to compress an entire directory or a single file on Linux. It’ll also compress every other directory inside a directory you specify–in other words, it works recursively.

tar -czvf name-of-archive.tar.gz /path/to/directory-or-file

Here’s what those switches actually mean:

  • -c: Create an archive.
  • -z: Compress the archive with gzip.
  • -v: Display progress in the terminal while creating the archive, also known as “verbose” mode. The v is always optional in these commands, but it’s helpful.
  • -f: Allows you to specify the filename of the archive.

Extract an Archive

Once you have an archive, you can extract it with the tar command. The following command will extract the contents of archive.tar.gz to the current directory.

tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz

It’s the same as the archive creation command we used above, except the -x switch replaces the -c switch. This specifies you want to extract an archive instead of create one.

You may want to extract the contents of the archive to a specific directory. You can do so by appending the -C switch to the end of the command. For example, the following command will extract the contents of the archive.tar.gz file to the /tmp directory.

tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz -C /tmp