Using tar to backup and move your website

Lets say you want to move your website from one server to another. One way you can attack this project is with tar. Tar will take a directory that you give it and put it into a single file and optionally compress it.

Creating a tarball

On the server that currently has your website you would want to run the following command. We are assuming that your website is stored in /var/www/html.

$ tar -zcvf website-backup.tar.gz /var/www/html/

This will create a tarball in your current working directory named website-backup.tar.gz
Let’s break this command down so we can understand what going on.

  • -z – This tells tar that we want to us gzip compression.
  • -c – This tells tar we want to create a new archive.
  • -v – This tell tar to tell us what it is doing.
  • -f – This tells tar what what file we want created.

Extracting a tarball

After you move the tarball you created earlier to the new server you would want to run the following command to extract it.

$ tar -zxvf website-backup.tar.gz

This command is much like the last one we ran other than instead of a -c we used an -x. This tells tar to extract the archive instead of creating and archive.
After running this command we will end up with a folder in our current working directory named var if we were to follow the directory structure it would looks like var/www/html/. Now you can move the files you extracted into their new home with something like.

$ mv var/www/html/* /var/www/html/