How to use TAR and GZIP

Linux, OSX, tip, Tools

I’ve been doing a lot of server maintenance recently and have found myself having to archive and transfer file to and from different server, as a result I’m continually looking at the man page for TAR trying to figure out which exact flags to use in each situation.

See the guide below for a quick 101:

How to TAR a Directory

  • -z: Compress archive using gzip program
  • -c: Create archive
  • -v: Verbose i.e display progress while creating archive
  • -f: Archive File name

For example, you have directory called /home/jerry/prog and you would like to compress this directory then you can type tar command as follows:

$ tar -zcvf prog-1-jan-2005.tar.gz /home/jerry/prog

Above command will create an archive file called prog-1-jan-2005.tar.gz in current directory.

NB. the -v flag “Verbose” is optional  and prints a list of each item added or extracted to the console.

How to Extract a TAR

If you wish to restore your archive then you need to use following command (it will extract all files in current directory):

$ tar -zxvf prog-1-jan-2005.tar.gz


  • -x: Extract files

If you wish to extract files in particular directory, for example in /tmp then you need to use following command:

$ tar -zxvf prog-1-jan-2005.tar.gz -C /tmp
$ cd /tmp
$ ls -


I can’t remember the exact source of this example but its been used and reused all over the web.. here’s a few places it maybe from: