Tar The Most Basic Backup Tool

The tar tool, the bewhiskered old man of archiving utilities, is installed by default. It is an excellent tool for saving entire directories full of files. For example, here is the command used to back up the /etc directory:

sudo tar cvf etc.tar /etc

Here, the options use tar to create an archive, be verbose in the message output, and use the filename etc.tar as the archive name for the contents of the directory /etc.

Alternatively, if the output of tar is sent to the standard output and redirected to a file, the command appears as follows:

sudo tar cv /etc > etc.tar and the result is the same.

All files in the /etc directory will be saved to a file named etc.tar. With an impressive array of options (see the man page), tar is quite flexible and powerful in combination with shell scripts. With the -z option, it can even create and restore gzip compressed archives while the -j option works with bzipped files.

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