working difference between tar, cpio, and pax ?

Posted on 2008-11-10
Last Modified: 2013-12-27
What is the working difference between the tar,cpio and pax ? Under which circumstances we should use one over other ?
Can someone please explain me the working difference ?
Question by:beer9
    LVL 40

    Assisted Solution

    all are backup tools / commands that are used to backup files and directories. the difference is mostly in the way the backup is created.

    LVL 22

    Accepted Solution

    They have slightly different attributes and capabilities. The tar format is probably the most widely used. However, the portable tar format used (USTAR) has some limitations that has resulted in various extensions being made to the format, which are not always compatible across platforms. The cpio program is less used, but generally handles special files better than tar does. It can also handle larger UID numbers than tar can in a standard manner, and is more portable than tar, except that cpio may not be available at all. The pax is the most capable of all, but also the least used. It can also read and write its own native standard format as well as tar and cpio. Pax also can do some interesting conversions on the fly, like renaming the files being extracted.  

    In general, you should probably stick to tar unless you have some specific issues with it. Not because it is particularly better, but because the expertise is more common.

    LVL 48

    Assisted Solution

    If you are wanting to do system backups on a Solaris server, then ufsdump is probably your best option.

    Author Comment

    Got this article, basic concept got cleared. :)

    Author Closing Comment


    Featured Post

    How to run any project with ease

    Manage projects of all sizes how you want. Great for personal to-do lists, project milestones, team priorities and launch plans.
    - Combine task lists, docs, spreadsheets, and chat in one
    - View and edit from mobile/offline
    - Cut down on emails

    Join & Write a Comment

    Attention: This article will no longer be maintained. If you have any questions, please feel free to mail me. Please see for the updated article. It is avail…
    Using libpcap/Jpcap to capture and send packets on Solaris version (10/11) Library used: 1.      Libpcap ( Version 1.2 2.      Jpcap( Version 0.6 Prerequisite: 1.      GCC …
    Learn several ways to interact with files and get file information from the bash shell. ls lists the contents of a directory: Using the -a flag displays hidden files: Using the -l flag formats the output in a long list: The file command gives us mor…
    Learn how to navigate the file tree with the shell. Use pwd to print the current working directory: Use ls to list a directory's contents: Use cd to change to a new directory: Use wildcards instead of typing out long directory names: Use ../ to move…

    746 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    17 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now