Exclude Certain Files When Creating A Tarball Using Tar Command

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How can I keep out certain files when creating a tarball? For example:



How do I exclude zyz and abc file while using a tar command?

The GNU version of the tar archiving utility has –exclude and -X options. So to exclude abc and xyz file you need to type the command as follows:
$ tar -zcvf /tmp/mybackup.tar.gz --exclude='abc' --exclude='xyz' /home/me

If you have more than 2 files use -X option to specify multiple file names. It reads list of exclude file names from a text file. For example create a file called exclude.txt:
$ vi exclude.txtAppend file names:

Save and close the file. This lists the file patterns that need to be excluded. Now type the command:
$ tar -zcvf /tmp/mybackup.tar.gz -X exclude.txt /home/me


  • -X file.txt :exclude files matching patterns listed in FILE file.txt


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

7 comment

  1. Is there a way to do the opposite? That is, tar up only files of a certain type and not everything else? Would like to preserve directory structure when doing so. Thanks!

  2. common style using “tar+exclude” suggested in internet sources is like:

    tar \
    – -exclude… \
    – -exclude… \
    – -exclude… \
    – -exclude… \
    -cvpzf home_bup.tgz /home/username

    but i think it is a very annoying method.

    I suggest next:

    for fedora core

    tar cvpzPf /tmp/backup.tar.gz –exclude={/proc/*,/sys/*,/tmp/*,/dev/*} /

    for Debian

    tar cvfpP /tmp/debian2.tar –exclude={”/proc/*”,”/sys*”,”/tmp/*”,”/home/user/*”} /

    and more common if i need backup using ssh (ssh+nice+tar)

    ssh root@ “cd /;nice -n 10 tar cvpP –exclude={”/proc/*”,”/sys*”,”/tmp/*”,”/home/user/*”} /”>backup.tar.gz

    and before “exclude” we have two “-” not one.

  3. Using the exclude.txt file is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Thank you very much!!

  4. will:

    you can use the ‘T’ option with ‘ -T selectedfiles.txt’ where selectedfiles.txt contains paths to the files you want to backup only.

  5. To search for all .zip files in current directory and all sub-directories try: this
    #find ./foldername -type f -name ‘*.zip’

    To Exclude all .zip files in current directory and all sub-directories try this:
    # find ./foldername -type f -name ‘*.zip’ > exclude.txt

    To Create tar Archive excluding all .zip files in current directory and all sub-directories try this:
    # tar -zcvf backup_foldername.tar.gz -X exclude.txt ./foldername

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