How safely convert folder into tarball

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The correct command is

tar cvf /tmp/tarball.tar -C target_directory . 


If you want to delete files in the same step you can use option --remove-files (this option removes both files and directories  -- the whole tree as expected)

tar -cvf /tmp/tarball.tar --remove-files -C target_directory . 

You can specify the option --remove-files before your other arguments like this:

tar --remove-files -cvf /tmp/tarball.tar -C target_directory . 


Usefulness of the option --remove-files entails some of the risks of rm operation (Creative uses of rm )

For example if your -C parameter is wrong (say  -C / ) you can damage system directories.  You can remove files later yourself using Saferm -- wrapper for rm command  with more control over the results then tar provides.


  1. Always check tar return code after the operation. Tarball can well be incomplete. I would recommend to check the tarball content against the tree using tar  -d option in a separate step. Of course, for large tarball (say, over 1TB) this operation is excruciatingly slow, but this is too important operation to skip
  2. Already create manifest to store with the tarball using the command:
    tar tvf tarrball-name > tarball_name.manifest
  3. Create md5 sum and store it as a separate file to verity that tarball is intact.
  4. If you run tar not as root you need to ensure that all files are readable to this particular user. I would recommend doing this as a separate step before the creation of the tarball.
  5. Manual entering of rm command after creation of the tarball is a very dangerous operation and unless it is pre-programmed and checked in your script you can remove wrong files for which tarball do not still exists.

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[Jul 29, 2019] How do I tar a directory of files and folders without including the directory itself - Stack Overflow

Jan 5, 2017 |

How do I tar a directory of files and folders without including the directory itself? Ask Question Asked 10 years, 1 month ago Active 8 months ago Viewed 464k times 348 105

tvanfosson ,Jan 5, 2017 at 12:29

I typically do:
tar -czvf my_directory.tar.gz my_directory

What if I just want to include everything (including any hidden system files) in my_directory, but not the directory itself? I don't want:

   --- my_file
   --- my_file
   --- my_file

I want:


PanCrit ,Feb 19 at 13:04

cd my_directory/ && tar -zcvf ../my_dir.tgz . && cd -

should do the job in one line. It works well for hidden files as well. "*" doesn't expand hidden files by path name expansion at least in bash. Below is my experiment:

$ mkdir my_directory
$ touch my_directory/file1
$ touch my_directory/file2
$ touch my_directory/.hiddenfile1
$ touch my_directory/.hiddenfile2
$ cd my_directory/ && tar -zcvf ../my_dir.tgz . && cd ..
$ tar ztf my_dir.tgz

JCotton ,Mar 3, 2015 at 2:46

Use the -C switch of tar:
tar -czvf my_directory.tar.gz -C my_directory .

The -C my_directory tells tar to change the current directory to my_directory , and then . means "add the entire current directory" (including hidden files and sub-directories).

Make sure you do -C my_directory before you do . or else you'll get the files in the current directory.

Digger ,Mar 23 at 6:52

You can also create archive as usual and extract it with:
tar --strip-components 1 -xvf my_directory.tar.gz

jwg ,Mar 8, 2017 at 12:56

Have a look at --transform / --xform , it gives you the opportunity to massage the file name as the file is added to the archive:
% mkdir my_directory
% touch my_directory/file1
% touch my_directory/file2
% touch my_directory/.hiddenfile1
% touch my_directory/.hiddenfile2
% tar -v -c -f my_dir.tgz --xform='s,my_directory/,,' $(find my_directory -type f)
% tar -t -f my_dir.tgz 

Transform expression is similar to that of sed , and we can use separators other than / ( , in the above example).

Alex ,Mar 31, 2017 at 15:40

find /my/dir/ -printf "%P\n" | tar -czf mydir.tgz --no-recursion -C /my/dir/ -T -

With some conditions (archive only files, dirs and symlinks):

find /my/dir/ -printf "%P\n" -type f -o -type l -o -type d | tar -czf mydir.tgz --no-recursion -C /my/dir/ -T -

The below unfortunately includes a parent directory ./ in the archive:

tar -czf mydir.tgz -C /my/dir .

You can move all the files out of that directory by using the --transform configuration option, but that doesn't get rid of the . directory itself. It becomes increasingly difficult to tame the command.

You could use $(find ...) to add a file list to the command (like in magnus' answer ), but that potentially causes a "file list too long" error. The best way is to combine it with tar's -T option, like this:

find /my/dir/ -printf "%P\n" -type f -o -type l -o -type d | tar -czf mydir.tgz --no-recursion -C /my/dir/ -T -

Basically what it does is list all files ( -type f ), links ( -type l ) and subdirectories ( -type d ) under your directory, make all filenames relative using -printf "%P\n" , and then pass that to the tar command (it takes filenames from STDIN using -T - ). The -C option is needed so tar knows where the files with relative names are located. The --no-recursion flag is so that tar doesn't recurse into folders it is told to archive (causing duplicate files).

If you need to do something special with filenames (filtering, following symlinks etc), the find command is pretty powerful, and you can test it by just removing the tar part of the above command:

$ find /my/dir/ -printf "%P\n" -type f -o -type l -o -type d
> textfile.txt
> documentation.pdf
> subfolder2
> subfolder
> subfolder/.gitignore

For example if you want to filter PDF files, add ! -name '*.pdf'

$ find /my/dir/ -printf "%P\n" -type f ! -name '*.pdf' -o -type l -o -type d
> textfile.txt
> subfolder2
> subfolder
> subfolder/.gitignore
Non-GNU find

The command uses printf (available in GNU find ) which tells find to print its results with relative paths. However, if you don't have GNU find , this works to make the paths relative (removes parents with sed ):

find /my/dir/ -type f -o -type l -o -type d | sed s,^/my/dir/,, | tar -czf mydir.tgz --no-recursion -C /my/dir/ -T -

BrainStone ,Dec 21, 2016 at 22:14

This Answer should work in most situations. Notice however how the filenames are stored in the tar file as, for example, ./file1 rather than just file1 . I found that this caused problems when using this method to manipulate tarballs used as package files in BuildRoot .

One solution is to use some Bash globs to list all files except for .. like this:

tar -C my_dir -zcvf my_dir.tar.gz .[^.]* ..?* *

This is a trick I learnt from this answer .

Now tar will return an error if there are no files matching ..?* or .[^.]* , but it will still work. If the error is a problem (you are checking for success in a script), this works:

shopt -s nullglob
tar -C my_dir -zcvf my_dir.tar.gz .[^.]* ..?* *
shopt -u nullglob

Though now we are messing with shell options, we might decide that it is neater to have * match hidden files:

shopt -s dotglob
tar -C my_dir -zcvf my_dir.tar.gz *
shopt -u dotglob

This might not work where your shell globs * in the current directory, so alternatively, use:

shopt -s dotglob
cd my_dir
tar -zcvf ../my_dir.tar.gz *
cd ..
shopt -u dotglob

PanCrit ,Jun 14, 2010 at 6:47

cd my_directory
tar zcvf ../my_directory.tar.gz *

anion ,May 11, 2018 at 14:10

If it's a Unix/Linux system, and you care about hidden files (which will be missed by *), you need to do:
cd my_directory
tar zcvf ../my_directory.tar.gz * .??*

I don't know what hidden files look like under Windows.

gpz500 ,Feb 27, 2014 at 10:46

I would propose the following Bash function (first argument is the path to the dir, second argument is the basename of resulting archive):
function tar_dir_contents ()
    local DIRPATH="$1"
    local TARARCH="$2.tar.gz"
    local ORGIFS="$IFS"
    tar -C "$DIRPATH" -czf "$TARARCH" $( ls -a "$DIRPATH" | grep -v '\(^\.$\)\|\(^\.\.$\)' )

You can run it in this way:

$ tar_dir_contents /path/to/some/dir my_archive

and it will generate the archive my_archive.tar.gz within current directory. It works with hidden (.*) elements and with elements with spaces in their filename.

med ,Feb 9, 2017 at 17:19

cd my_directory && tar -czvf ../my_directory.tar.gz $(ls -A) && cd ..

This one worked for me and it's include all hidden files without putting all files in a root directory named "." like in tomoe's answer :

Breno Salgado ,Apr 16, 2016 at 15:42

Use pax.

Pax is a deprecated package but does the job perfectly and in a simple fashion.

pax -w > mydir.tar mydir

asynts ,Jun 26 at 16:40

Simplest way I found:
cd my_dir && tar -czvf ../my_dir.tar.gz *

marcingo ,Aug 23, 2016 at 18:04

# tar all files within and deeper in a given directory
# with no prefixes ( neither <directory>/ nor ./ )
# parameters: <source directory> <target archive file>
function tar_all_in_dir {
    { cd "$1" && find -type f -print0; } \
    | cut --zero-terminated --characters=3- \
    | tar --create --file="$2" --directory="$1" --null --files-from=-

Safely handles filenames with spaces or other unusual characters. You can optionally add a -name '*.sql' or similar filter to the find command to limit the files included.

user1456599 ,Feb 13, 2013 at 21:37

 tar -cvzf  tarlearn.tar.gz --remove-files mytemp/*

If the folder is mytemp then if you apply the above it will zip and remove all the files in the folder but leave it alone

 tar -cvzf  tarlearn.tar.gz --remove-files --exclude='*12_2008*' --no-recursion mytemp/*

You can give exclude patterns and also specify not to look into subfolders too

Aaron Digulla ,Jun 2, 2009 at 15:33

tar -C my_dir -zcvf my_dir.tar.gz `ls my_dir`

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