Verify tar command tape backup under Linux or UNIX

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I am using the tar command to backup data to tape. How do I verify that tape backup is in a good condition?

The GNU/tar command has -w or --verify option. This option attempt to verify the archive after writing it to tape, use the command as follows to backup data and attempt to verify the archive after writing:

Verify TAR backup with -w and –verify options on GNU/Linux

Type the following command as follows to backup /home/ to /dev/st0 and attempt to verify the archive after writing it to /dev/st0 tape device:
# tar -cvpWlf /dev/st0 /home


  1. c : Create a new archive of /home
  2. v : Verbose output
  3. p : Ignore umask when extracting files i.e. preserve permissions on files
  4. W : Attempt to verify the archive after writing it
  5. l : Stay in local file system when creating an archive
  6. f : Specify /dev/st0 as tape device (file)
  7. /dev/st0 : Tape device name
  8. /home : Directory to backup

Examples: Tape backup/verify/restore procedures on Unix

First, load your tape cartridge into the tape drive. Log onto server. Backup /home/ to the tape device called /dev/rmt/tps3d4.8500c:
# cd /home/
# tar cvbf 64 /dev/rmt/tps3d4.8500c .

After the backup is complete:

  • Eject the tape
  • Label the tape with the date, the data stored, and the tar command used tar cvbf 64
  • Write-protect the tape
  • Put tape back in the drive and list contents to verify tape can be read:
    # tar tvbf 64 /dev/rmt/tps3d4.8500c

To do restoring a tape backup, run:
# tar xvbf 64 /dev/rmt/tps3d4.8500c

For more information see:


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.

13 comment

  1. dear Sir/madam,

    I am facing problem whihle writing cammand in Unix to take backup on tape device. sir/madan kindly help me in quick time. i am trying this command on SCo Unix System V/386 release 3.2

    # tar cvfb /dev/rct0 20 ./usr/shares backup taken on: 20/03/2007

    please tell me eather my command is correct and also help if it is not correct


    Sajjad Ahmad

  2. Hi ,
    I’m taking backup on a tape through an automated script but lately i’ve been getting an error

    /dev/nst0: Input/output error

    How do i check this error in advance so that a mail could be fired ??
    Can u please give me the commands ??

  3. i want to take backup daily but i don’t know how to do.. any one can help me. im using linux redhat enterprise ws4 u5.

  4. sir/madam
    i am taking backup on a tape (HP DDS-2 data catridge).the command like “tar cvf /dev/st0 test” is using for copying & “tar rvf /dev/st0 test1” using append the file.but rvf command not working … why?

  5. Verify tar command tape restore under Linux or UNIX

    Good Day,

    I want to to restore the backup (tape) to save it on a DVD, could you please be so kind to assist me.

    I thank you for your kind assistance.


    1. you can try the tar command.

      # tar -cvf /directory_name /dev/rmt/0m
      /dev/rmt/0m is the tape drive path. please check the tape drive first using the command–
      # ioscan -fnCtape
      tape drive path may be /dev/rmt/0m or /dev/rmt/0mn or /dev/rmt/1m or 1mn. check it in ur machine

  6. dear sir/madam

    i want to take backup daily but i don’t know how to do.. any one can help me. im using linux redhat enterprise 4 & 5. And i want to know how to write these back up in shell scripts

  7. Let Say if you want to take backup of /etc dir.

    # tar -cvf etcbackup.tar /etc
    It will back up of your /etc dir. in root home dir. in tar format.

  8. hi all could u pls help

    i need to take back using tar bt except last two days….means example from 4th july to 8th july

    pls reply nd explain steps


  9. hi All
    in linux i istalled ubax_cbmr, in that cbmr how to take backup ? what is the command?
    its connected with tsm.


    tar xv8 /usr1/wage/kaimal

    kaimal is directory

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