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

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  • Last Updated : 29 Jun, 2021
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An archive is a special file that contains any number of files inside. It can be restored via special programs, for example, tar.inside.

  • .tar – archive files are usually not compressed.
  • .tar.gz – archive file compressed with gzip tool
  • .tar.bz2 – archive file compressed with bzip2 tool


tar options [archive_name.tar] files_to_archive

The tar command does not create a compressed archive, instead, it uses external utilities like gzip and bzip2.

Command functionality:

OptionFull formatDescription
-a–concatenateConcentrate two archives
-c–createCreating a new archive



Showing the difference between archives

Delete file from the archive

-r–appendadd files at the end of the existing archive
-t–listShow archive content
-u–updateUpdate an archive
-x–extract Extract files from the archive

Command parameters:

ParameterFull formatDescription
-C dir–directory=DIRchange directory before executing
-f –file=ARCHIVEUse specified archive file 
-j–bzip2compress using bzip2
-p–same-permissions Save file permissions to file 



Show process information

Show final result 

-z–gzip compress using gzip

Example of using the tar command: 

1) Compress one file using the tar command:

tar -czvf one-file-compressed.tar.gz hello_world

2) Compress directory using the tar command:

tar -czvf dir-compressed.tar.gz test_directory/

3) Show the archive content:

tar -tf archive.tar.gz

4) Add content to the existing archive:

tar -rvf existing-archive-name.tar file-directory-to-compress/

5) Update content in an archive: 

6) Compress with bzip2:

tar -cjvf one-file-compressed.tar.bz2 hello_world

7) Extract files from a .tar archive:

tar -xf archive.tar.gz

The same with .tar.gz and .tar.bz2

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