4 Best Linux Command Line Archivers

From tar to 7z, there's a command-line tool for every archiving need.

by Pete
Published: Updated: 12 minutes read

If you’re a Linux user, you know that file management is a crucial part of your daily routine. And when it comes to archiving files and directories, having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference. Fortunately, Linux offers a wide range of powerful archive managers, each with its own unique features and advantages. From the trusty tape archive utility (tar) to the cutting-edge 7z compression tool, there’s a command-line tool for every archiving need.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best Linux archive managers available and provide insights into their features and use cases.

Let’s get into it

Whether you’re a seasoned Linux pro or just getting started, this guide will help you choose the right tool for your archiving needs.

1
tar

tar -cvf ventoy.tar .

Tar, short for Tape Archive, is one of the most commonly used archive managers in the Linux environment. It’s a command-line tool that is designed to combine multiple files or directories into a single archive file, which can then be compressed using other tools like gzip or bzip2.

One of the key features of tar is its ability to preserve file attributes such as permissions and ownership information, which makes it an ideal tool for creating backups of important files and directories. Additionally, tar archives can be split into multiple parts, allowing them to be easily distributed or backed up to external storage devices.

Here are some of the basic commands for using tar:

  • Creating a tar archive: To create a tar archive, you can use the “tar” command followed by the name of the archive you want to create and the files or directories you want to include. For example, the following command creates an archive called “myarchive.tar” containing the files “file1.txt” and “file2.txt”:
tar -cvf myarchive.tar file1.txt file2.txt
  • Extracting files from a tar archive: To extract files from a tar archive, you can use the “tar” command with the “x” option, followed by the name of the archive. For example, the following command extracts all the files from the archive “myarchive.tar”:
tar -xvf myarchive.tar
  • Adding files to an existing tar archive: To add files to an existing tar archive, you can use the “tar” command with the “r” option, followed by the name of the archive and the files you want to add. For example, the following command adds a file called “file3.txt” to the “myarchive.tar” archive:
tar -rvf myarchive.tar file3.txt

2
gzip

gzip is a compression tool commonly used in the Linux environment to reduce the size of files or directories. It’s a command-line tool that uses a lossless compression algorithm to compress individual files, and it can also be used in conjunction with tar to compress entire directories.

One of the key benefits of gzip is that it can significantly reduce the size of files without sacrificing any data. This makes it an ideal tool for compressing large files such as log files or backup files, which can then be transferred or stored more efficiently.

Here are some of the basic commands for using gzip:

  • Compressing a file: To compress a file using gzip, you can use the “gzip” command followed by the name of the file you want to compress. For example, the following command compresses a file called “myfile.txt” and renames it to “myfile.txt.gz”:
gzip myfile.txt
  • Decompressing a file: To decompress a file that has been compressed using gzip, you can use the “gunzip” command followed by the name of the compressed file. For example, the following command decompresses a file called “myfile.txt.gz” and renames it to “myfile.txt”:
gunzip myfile.txt.gz
  • Compressing a directory with tar and gzip: To compress an entire directory using gzip, you can use tar to create a tar archive of the directory, and then use gzip to compress the archive. For example, the following command creates a tar archive of a directory called “mydirectory” and compresses it using gzip, creating a file called “mydirectory.tar.gz”:
tar -czvf mydirectory.tar.gz mydirectory/

3
zip

zip ventoy.zip *

Zip is an archive manager that is widely used on a variety of platforms, including Linux. It’s a command-line tool that allows users to compress files and directories, and it supports a variety of compression algorithms such as DEFLATE, BZIP2, and LZMA.

Zip is popular for its compatibility with a wide range of platforms and its ability to compress files into smaller, more manageable packages. It also supports password protection, making it a popular choice for securely sharing files.

Here are some of the basic commands for using zip:

  • Creating a zip archive: To create a zip archive, you can use the “zip” command followed by the name of the archive you want to create and the files or directories you want to include. For example, the following command creates an archive called “myarchive.zip” containing the files “file1.txt” and “file2.txt”:
zip myarchive.zip file1.txt file2.txt
  • Extracting files from a zip archive: To extract files from a zip archive, you can use the “unzip” command followed by the name of the archive. For example, the following command extracts all the files from the archive “myarchive.zip”:
unzip myarchive.zip
  • Adding files to an existing zip archive: To add files to an existing zip archive, you can use the “zip” command with the “r” option, followed by the name of the archive and the files you want to add. For example, the following command adds a file called “file3.txt” to the “myarchive.zip” archive:
zip -r myarchive.zip file3.txt

Overall, zip is a versatile and widely used archive manager that is a popular choice for compressing and sharing files across multiple platforms, including Linux. Its support for a range of compression algorithms and password protection features makes it a flexible and secure choice for managing files and directories.

4
7z

7z is an open-source archive manager that is used to compress and decompress files on Linux and other platforms. 7z supports a wide range of compression algorithms, including LZMA, LZMA2, Bzip2, and more, making it a powerful tool for managing files and directories.

One of the key benefits of 7z is its ability to create highly compressed files, which can save space and reduce the time required to transfer or backup files. 7z also supports strong encryption, which can be used to protect sensitive files from unauthorized access.

Here are some of the basic commands for using 7z:

  • Creating a 7z archive: To create a 7z archive, you can use the “7z a” command followed by the name of the archive you want to create and the files or directories you want to include. For example, the following command creates an archive called “myarchive.7z” containing the files “file1.txt” and “file2.txt”:
7z a myarchive.7z file1.txt file2.txt
  • Extracting files from a 7z archive: To extract files from a 7z archive, you can use the “7z x” command followed by the name of the archive. For example, the following command extracts all the files from the archive “myarchive.7z”:
7z x myarchive.7z
  • Adding files to an existing 7z archive: To add files to an existing 7z archive, you can use the “7z u” command followed by the name of the archive and the files you want to add. For example, the following command adds a file called “file3.txt” to the “myarchive.7z” archive:
7z u myarchive.7z file3.txt

Feature Comparison

Archive ManagerCompression AlgorithmFile Types SupportedPassword ProtectionGUI Available
targzip, bzip2, xz, lzmaDirectoriesNoNo
gzipgzipText filesNoNo
zipDEFLATE, BZIP2, LZMAAll file typesYesYes
7zLZMA, LZMA2, Bzip2, PPMD, and moreAll file typesYesNo

In Summary

As you can see, each archive manager supports a range of compression algorithms and file types, with some offering more advanced features such as password protection and graphical user interfaces. Tar is a versatile archiver that supports a range of compression algorithms and is ideal for archiving directories. Gzip is a simple and lightweight archiver that uses the gzip compression algorithm and is suitable for compressing text files.

Zip is a widely used archiver that supports a range of compression algorithms including DEFLATE, BZIP2, and LZMA. It is suitable for compressing all file types, and offers advanced features such as password protection and graphical user interfaces. 7z is a powerful and highly compressed archiver that supports many compression algorithms including LZMA, LZMA2, Bzip2, and PPMD. It offers advanced features such as password protection, but does not have a graphical user interface.

Overall, the choice of archive manager will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the user. Tar and gzip are simple and lightweight options for basic archiving needs, while zip and 7z offer more advanced features for users who require password protection, support for a wider range of compression algorithms, and graphical user interfaces.