Zip Command in Linux with Examples

Zip Command in Linux

The zip command is a powerful and versatile tool for compressing and archiving files in Linux. It allows combining multiple files into a single zipped archive, resulting in reduced disk usage and faster file transfers. The zip utility uses lossless data compression algorithms to compress files in the DEFLATE format, which is compatible across platforms.

The command is available on most Linux distributions. If not installed by default, use the appropriate package manager to install it:

# Debian/Ubuntu 
sudo apt install zip

sudo yum install zip

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the core functionality of the zip command through practical examples. Topics include:

  • Basic syntax and usage.
  • Compression levels and their impact.
  • Including and excluding files/directories.
  • Password protection and encryption.
  • Splitting and combining zip archives.
  • Advanced options for advanced use cases.

Understanding these key features will enable effective utilization of the zip command for all your file archiving needs. So let’s get started!

Basic Usage of the Zip Command

The basic syntax of the zip command is:

zip [options] zipfile filelist


  • options – Optional flags like -r, -e etc.
  • zipfile – Path and name of the zip archive to create.
  • filelist – Files/directories to add into the archive.

For example, to zip a file called file1.txt into an archive named, you would run:

zip file1.txt

The output would display the file being added and compression details:

adding: file1.txt (deflated 53%)

To zip multiple files or entire directories, list all the files/directories as arguments:

zip file1.txt file2.txt /path/to/directory

This command zips file1.txt, file2.txt and the /path/to/directory folder into

Compression Levels and Their Impact

The zip command allows controlling the level of compression through the -0 to -9 parameters.

  • -0 disables compression i.e. store files without compressing
  • -1 gives the fastest compression speed
  • -9 gives the maximum compression and is slower

The default compression level is -6. Here is an example of using maximum compression:

zip -r -9 /path/to/large_directory

Higher compression leads to smaller zip file sizes but requires more CPU processing. So there is a tradeoff between compression ratio and archiving speed. Evaluate your specific use case to decide the optimal level.

Including and Excluding Files

You can choose to selectively include files in a zip archive while excluding others. For example, to include only .txt files from a directory:

zip -r /path/to/directory -i \*.txt

Similarly, you can exclude file types using the -x parameter:

zip -r /path/to/directory -x \*.pdf

This zips all files in the directory except PDFs. You can combine -i and -x to get more granular control over file inclusion and exclusion.

Exclusion can also be done by specifying filenames. For example:

zip -r /path/to/directory -x unwanted_file

This excludes unwanted_file from the zip archive.

Password Protection and Encryption

Sensitive data can be secured in zip archives using encryption and password protection.

To password-protect a zip archive, use the -e option:

zip -e -r /path/to/private_data

This will prompt you to enter and confirm a password. The zip archive can then only be extracted by providing the correct password, thus keeping the data secure.

However, it is important to note that zip encryption has known vulnerabilities. So zip archives should not be used for highly confidential data. Alternative encryption tools like GPG may be more appropriate in those cases.

Splitting and Combining Archives

Very large zip archives can be split into smaller chunks to facilitate easier transfer or storage. The -s option handles splitting zip archives:

zip -s 10m -r /path/to/large_directory

This splits into smaller zip files of 10 MB each. The files are named as archive.z01, archive.z02 etc.

To recombine the split archives back into a single zip file, use zip -s 0:

zip -s 0 --out

This combines all archive.z* split files into

Splitting is useful when dealing with large zip archives that exceed storage limits or for sending archives over slower network links.

Advanced Zip Command Options

Here are some advanced options that make the zip command more versatile:

  • Recursive zipping – Use -r to zip a directory and all its sub-directories.
  • Verbose output-v gives detailed diagnostic info for troubleshooting issues.
  • Move original files-m moves files into zip archive instead of copying.

For example:

zip -r -v -m /path/to/directory

This command:

  • Recursively zips /path/to/directory
  • Displays verbose diagnostic output
  • Moves original files into archive after zipping

Practice using these special options to unlock the full potential of the zip command.

Common Issues and Solutions

At times, you may encounter errors while using the zip command:

1. Permission denied errors

Ensure you have written permission on the directory you are zipping into. As a workaround, redirect archive creation to /tmp or your home folder.

2. File not found errors

Verify the files or folders being zipped exist in the specified path. Check for typos as well.

3. Incorrect password errors

When extracting encrypted zips, validate you are providing the correct password used for encryption.

4. Zip file size mismatch errors

This happens when combining split zip files and the expected total size does not match. Confirm all split files are present and not corrupted. Getting familiar with potential errors will help you diagnose and fix issues faster.


The zip command in Linux enables efficient file compression and archiving from the terminal. With support for encryption, splitting, recursive zipping, and selective file inclusion/exclusion, it is an indispensable tool for any Linux power user.

We encourage you to apply these zip command examples in your own projects. The man pages and GNU documentation offer even deeper insights for advanced exploration. Over time, you will be able to leverage the full capabilities of zip to take control of file archives in Linux.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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