T would like to use the tar command in Linux to back up some files, but i would like to exclude a specific directory from the archive.

How can I do that?

2 Answers 2


so, lets back up the directory /directory and everything in it, but ignoring any files called IGNORE-ME.

tar -cf backup.tar /directory --exclude "IGNORE-ME"

If it wasn't snowing out, i'd probably point out that man tar is as good as RTFM (and google 'tar exclude file' is even faster).


You can also put all of the patterns in a file and use:

-X, --exclude-from=FILE
              exclude files matching patterns listed in FILE
  • much better answer than mine -well, far more practical assuming you want to mask more than the one file :) see, I read the man page, but obviously not all the way down to -X ;) Jan 6, 2010 at 20:22

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