How to Preserve Symbolic Links in Tar Command

Last updated: December 6, 2022

How to preserve symbolic links (symlinks) especially when you tar the files is explained below. We all know how to use tar command. The following steps preserve links when you archive.

Step 1. Create the Archive with only Links

What you need to remember is that when tar archives a symbolic link, it writes a record to the archive naming the target of the link

tar -cvf archive.tar /backupfolder

Step 2. Archive with Linked Files

When you use -h with -c, it causes tar to archive the files symbolic links point to, instead of the linking themselves. When this option is used, when tar encounters a symbolic link, it will archive the linked-to file, instead of simply recording the presence of a symbolic link.

find /backupfolder -type l | xargs tar -cvfh linkedfiles.tar

Step 3. Extract

This gets you back to exactly how your symlink and its files were:

tar -xvf archive.tar
tar -xvfh linkedfiles.tar

About The Author

Bobbin Zachariah

Bobbin Zachariah

Bobbin started his career in IT in the year 2000 as a computer science instructor and worked as a Linux system engineer and senior analyst roles. Currently working in DevOps environments to increase efficiency and improve delivery time in AWS Cloud infrastructure. He is certified in RHEL, CCNA, and MCP and holds a Masters's in computer science. When in his free time love playing cricket, blogging, and listening to music.



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