Zipping and Unzipping Files in UNIX

Zipping and Unzipping Files in UNIX

There are several methods of archiving files and retrieving archives. I recommend using the “zip” function to compress your files for its ease of use and portability. (Files zipped in Unix can be extracted using various tools on various platforms including Windows).

Below I have provided various “unzip” methods. The “right” unzip method depends upon the method used to zip the file. You can tell the zip method by the file extension (e.g., .zip, .tar, .gz, etc.)

Zipping Files Using ZIP

This Unix program is compatible with the zip program for Windows and most other operating systems. To zip files, first have the files uploaded to your server, then log into your account with SSH. Navigate to the directory where the files are that you want to zip (for instance by typing cd www then cd sounds to move to your/www/sounds directory). Then type:

zip myzip file1 file2 file3

This puts the files named file1, file2, and file3 into a new zip archive called

Unzipping Files

Please note that the unzip method you use is defined by the filename you are trying to unzip. For example, if you are trying to unzip a file called file.tar – you would use the method described in “tar“. Files ending in .gzip or .gz need to be extracted with the method described in “gunzip“.


If you have an archive named and want to get back the files, you would type:


Typing zip or unzip by itself will give you a usage summary, showing nearly all the options available.


To extract a file compressed with tar (e.g., filename.tar), type the following command from your SSH prompt:

tar xvf filename.tar

Basically, this command means that you will see the file “explode”, so don’t worry when you see your screen scrolling wildly. It also means that you will see any errors in the archive.


To extract a file compressed with gunzip, type the following:

gunzip filename_tar.gz

then if you receive no errors, type:

tar xvf filename_tar

Example :
$ zip -r profileimage (Make zip of profileimage folder and subfolder)
$ zip -r . (Make zip of current folder and subfolder)

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