tar - tape (or other media) file archiver
tar -[BcdDhiklmopRstvxXzZ] [-b N] [-f F] [-T F] [filename|regexp ...]
tar provides a way to store many files into a single archive, which can
be kept in another Unix file, stored on an I/O device such as tape,
floppy, cartridge, or disk, sent over a network, or piped to another
program. It is useful for making backup copies, or for packaging up a
set of files to move them to another system.
tar has existed since Version 7 Unix with very little change. It has
been proposed as the standard format for interchange of files among
systems that conform to the IEEE P1003 ``Portable Operating System''
This version of tar supports some of the extensions which were proposed
in the P1003 draft standards, including owner and group names, and
support for named pipes, fifos, contiguous files, and block and character
When reading an archive, this version of tar continues after finding an
error. Previous versions required the `i' option to ignore checksum
tar options can be specified in either of two ways. The usual Unix
conventions can be used: each option is preceded by `-'; arguments
directly follow each option; multiple options can be combined behind one
`-' as long as they take no arguments. For compatability with the Unix
tar program, the options may also be specified as ``keyletters,'' wherein
all the option letters occur in the first argument to tar, with no `-',
and their arguments, if any, occur in the second, third, ... arguments.
Normal: tar -f arcname -cv file1 file2
Old: tar fcv arcname file1 file2
At least one of the -c, -t, -d, or -x options must be included. The rest
Files to be operated upon are specified by a list of file names, which
follows the option specifications (or can be read from a file by the -T
option). Specifying a directory name causes that directory and all the
files it contains to be (recursively) processed.
When extracting or listing files, the ``file names'' are treated as
regular expressions, using mostly the same syntax as the shell. The
shell actually matches each substring between ``/''s separately, while
tar matches the entire string at once, so some anomalies will occur; e.g.
``*'' or ``?'' can match a ``/''. To specify a regular expression as an
argument to tar, quote it so the shell will not expand it.
-b N Specify a blocking factor for the archive. The block size will be N
x 512 bytes. Larger blocks typically run faster and let you fit
more data on a tape. The default blocking factor is set when tar is
compiled, and is typically 20. There is no limit to the maximum
block size, as long as enough memory can be allocated for it, and as
long as the device containing the archive can read or write that
-B When reading an archive, reblock it as we read it. Normally, tar
reads each block with a single read(2) system call. This does not
work when reading from a pipe or network socket under Berkeley Unix;
read(2) only gives as much data as has arrived at the moment. With
this option, it will do multiple read(2)s to fill out to a record
boundary, rather than reporting an error. This option is default
when reading an archive from standard input, or over a network.
-c Create an archive from a list of files.
-d Diff an archive against the files in the file system. Reports
differences in file size, mode, uid, gid, and contents. If a file
exists on the tape, but not in the file system, that is reported.
This option needs further work to be really useful.
-D When creating an archive, only dump each directory itself; don't
dump all the files inside the directory. In conjunction with
find(1), this is useful in creating incremental dumps for archival
backups, similar to those produced by dump(8).
-f F Specify the filename of the archive. If the specified filename is
``-'', the archive is read from the standard input or written to the
standard output. If the -f option is not used, and the environment
variable TAPE exists, its value will be used; otherwise, a default
archive name (which was picked when tar was compiled) is used. The
default is normally set to the ``first'' tape drive or other
transportable I/O medium on the system.
If the filename contains a colon before a slash, it is interpreted
as a ``hostname:/file/name'' pair. tar will invoke the commands rsh
and dd to access the specified file or device on the system
hostname. If you need to do something unusual like rsh with a
different user name, use ``-f -'' and pipe it to rsh manually.
-h When creating an archive, if a symbolic link is encountered, dump
the file or directory to which it points, rather than dumping it as
a symbolic link.
-i When reading an archive, ignore blocks of zeros in the archive.
Normally a block of zeros indicates the end of the archive, but in a
damaged archive, or one which was created by appending several
archives, this option allows tar to continue. It is not on by
default because there is garbage written after the zeroed blocks by
the Unix tar program. Note that with this option set, tar will read
all the way to the end of the file, eliminating problems with multi-
-k When extracting files from an archive, keep existing files, rather
than overwriting them with the version from the archive.
-l When dumping the contents of a directory to an archive, stay within
the local file system of that directory. This option only affects
the files dumped because they are in a dumped directory; files named
on the command line are always dumped, and they can be from various
file systems. This is useful for making ``full dump'' archival
backups of a file system, as with the dump(8) command. Files which
are skipped due to this option are mentioned on the standard error.
-m When extracting files from an archive, set each file's modified
timestamp to the current time, rather than extracting each file's
modified timestamp from the archive.
-n Use the numeric user and group id instead of the user and group
names when extracting or listing.
-o When creating an archive, write an old format archive, which does
not include information about directories, pipes, fifos, contiguous
files, or device files, and specifies file ownership by uid's and
gid's rather than by user names and group names. In most cases, a
``new'' format archive can be read by an ``old'' tar program without
serious trouble, so this option should seldom be needed.
-p When extracting files from an archive, restore them to the same
permissions that they had in the archive. If -p is not specified,
the current umask limits the permissions of the extracted files.
-R With each message that tar produces, print the record number within
the archive where the message occurred. This option is especially
useful when reading damaged archives, since it helps to pinpoint the
-s When specifying a list of filenames to be listed or extracted from
an archive, the -s flag specifies that the list is sorted into the
same order as the tape. This allows a large list to be used, even
on small machines, because the entire list need not be read into
memory at once. Such a sorted list can easily be created by running
``tar -t'' on the archive and editing its output.
-t List a table of contents of an existing archive. If file names are
specified, just list files matching the specified names. The
listing appears on the standard output.
-T F Rather than specifying file names or regular expressions as
arguments to the tar command, this option specifies that they should
be read from the file F, one per line. If the file name specified
is ``-'', the list is read from the standard input. This option, in
conjunction with the -s option, allows an arbitrarily large list of
files to be processed, and allows the list to be piped to tar.
-v Be verbose about the files that are being processed or listed.
Normally, archive creation, file extraction, and differencing are
silent, and archive listing just gives file names. The -v option
causes an ``ls -l''-like listing to be produced. The output from -v
appears on the standard output except when creating an archive
(since the new archive might be on standard output), where it goes
to the standard error output.
-x Extract files from an existing archive. If file names are
specified, just extract files matching the specified names,
otherwise extract all the files in the archive.
-X Strip leading slashes from an absolute path, allowing these paths to
be extracted in a different place.
-z or -Z
The archive should be compressed as it is written, or decompressed
as it is read, using the compress(1) program. This option works on
I/O devices and over the network, as well as on disk files; data to
or from such devices is reblocked using a ``dd'' command to enforce
the specified (or default) block size. The default compression
parameters are used; if you need to override them, avoid the ``z''
option and compress it yourself.
shar(1), tar(5), ar(1), cpio(1), dump(8), restore(8), rsh(1), dd(1),
The r, u, w, l, F, C, and digit options of Unix tar are not supported.
Multiple-tape (or floppy) archives should be supported, but so far no
clean way has been implemented.
A bug in the Bourne Shell usually causes an extra newline to be written
to the standard error when using compressed or remote archives.
A bug in ``dd'' prevents turning off the ``x+y records in/out'' messages
on the standard error when ``dd'' is used to reblock or transport an