When tar reads files, it updates their access times. To
avoid this, use the --atime-preserve[=METHOD] option, which can either
reset the access time retroactively or avoid changing it in the first
Handling of file attributes
Preserve the access times of files that are read. This works only for
files that you own, unless you have superuser privileges.
--atime-preserve=replace works on most systems, but it also
restores the data modification time and updates the status change
time. Hence it doesn't interact with incremental dumps nicely
(see Backups), and it can set access or data modification times
incorrectly if other programs access the file while tar is
--atime-preserve=system avoids changing the access time in
the first place, if the operating system supports this.
Unfortunately, this may or may not work on any given operating system
or file system. If tar knows for sure it won't work, it
complains right away.
Currently --atime-preserve with no operand defaults to
--atime-preserve=replace, but this is intended to change to
--atime-preserve=system when the latter is better-supported.
Do not extract data modification time.
When this option is used, tar leaves the data modification times
of the files it extracts as the times when the files were extracted,
instead of setting it to the times recorded in the archive.
This option is meaningless with --list (-t).
Create extracted files with the same ownership they have in the
This is the default behavior for the superuser,
so this option is meaningful only for non-root users, when tar
is executed on those systems able to give files away. This is
considered as a security flaw by many people, at least because it
makes quite difficult to correctly account users for the disk space
they occupy. Also, the suid or sgid attributes of
files are easily and silently lost when files are given away.
When writing an archive, tar writes the user id and user name
separately. If it can't find a user name (because the user id is not
in /etc/passwd), then it does not write one. When restoring,
and doing a chmod like when you use --same-permissions,
it tries to look the name (if one was written)
up in /etc/passwd. If it fails, then it uses the user id
stored in the archive instead.
Do not attempt to restore ownership when extracting. This is the
default behavior for ordinary users, so this option has an effect
only for the superuser.
The --numeric-owner option allows (ANSI) archives to be written
without user/group name information or such information to be ignored
when extracting. It effectively disables the generation and/or use
of user/group name information. This option forces extraction using
the numeric ids from the archive, ignoring the names.
This is useful in certain circumstances, when restoring a backup from
an emergency floppy with different passwd/group files for example.
It is otherwise impossible to extract files with the right ownerships
if the password file in use during the extraction does not match the
one belonging to the file system(s) being extracted. This occurs,
for example, if you are restoring your files after a major crash and
had booted from an emergency floppy with no password file or put your
disk into another machine to do the restore.
The numeric ids are always saved into tar archives.
The identifying names are added at create time when provided by the
system, unless --old-archive (-o) is used. Numeric ids could be
used when moving archives between a collection of machines using
a centralized management for attribution of numeric ids to users
and groups. This is often made through using the NIS capabilities.
When making a tar file for distribution to other sites, it
is sometimes cleaner to use a single owner for all files in the
distribution, and nicer to specify the write permission bits of the
files as stored in the archive independently of their actual value on
the file system. The way to prepare a clean distribution is usually
to have some Makefile rule creating a directory, copying all needed
files in that directory, then setting ownership and permissions as
wanted (there are a lot of possible schemes), and only then making a
tar archive out of this directory, before cleaning
everything out. Of course, we could add a lot of options to
GNU tar for fine tuning permissions and ownership.
This is not the good way, I think. GNU tar is
already crowded with options and moreover, the approach just explained
gives you a great deal of control already.
Extract all protection information.
This option causes tar to set the modes (access permissions) of
extracted files exactly as recorded in the archive. If this option
is not used, the current umask setting limits the permissions
on extracted files. This option is by default enabled when
tar is executed by a superuser.
This option is meaningless with --list (-t).
Same as both --same-permissions and --same-order.
The --preserve option has no equivalent short option name.
It is equivalent to --same-permissions plus --same-order.
Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License