How to Copy a File or Directory in Linux


In this article, we show how to copy a file or directory in linux.

So in order to make a copy a file or directory, we use the cp command in linux.

The cp command copies files or directories.

How to Copy a File

To copy a single file named file1.txt and make the copied file name file1copy.txt, we use the following code below.

So the code above makes a copy of the file, file1.txt, and the name of the copy of the file is file1copy.txt

In order to make a copy of multiple files and place them in a directory, we can specify after the cp command the names of the files followed lastly by the directory we want to place these copied files to.

In the following code below, we make a copy of file1.txt, file2.txt and file3.txt and place them in the NewDirectory folder.

So now we made a copy of file1.txt, file2.txt, and file3.txt and placed these copied files in the NewDirectory folder.

How to Copy a Directory

Next, we show how to copy a directory and its content to another directory.

To copy a directory, directory1 (and its contents) to directory, directory2, we use the line shown below.

This copies directory1 (its contents) to directory2. If directory2 does not exist, it is created and will contain the same contents as directory1.

cp -r stands for recursive. This cp option recursively copies directories and their contents. This option (or the -a option) is required when copying directories.

Another option for copying a directory is shown in the code below.

Using a wildcard, all the files in directory1 are copied into directory2. directory2 must already exist.

Below is a table for cp command options.

Option Meaning
-a, --archive Copy the files and directories and all of their attributes, including ownerships and permissions. Normally, copies take on the default attributes of the user performing the copy.
-i, --interactive Before overwriting an existing file, prompt the user for confirmation. If this option is not specified, cp will silently overwrite files.
-r, --recursive Recursively copy directories and their contents. This option (or the -a option) is required when copying directories.
-u, --update When copying files from one directory to another, copy only files that either don't exist or are newer than the existing corresponding files in the destination directory.
-v, --verbose Display informative messages as the copy is performed.

So these are the various options for the cp command.

And this is how to copy a file or directory in linux.

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