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Copy files over network using compression

Terminal - Copy files over network using compression
on the listening side: sudo nc -lp 2022 | sudo tar -xvf - and on the sending side: tar -cvzf - ./*| nc -w 3 name_of_listening_host 2022
2009-03-27 09:59:33
User: smcpherson
Functions: sudo tar
Copy files over network using compression

This is useful for sending data between 2 computers that you have shell access to. Uses tar compression during transfer. Files are compressed & uncompressed automatically. Note the trailing dash on the listening side that makes netcat listen to stdin for data.

on the listening side:

sudo nc -lp 2022 | sudo tar -xvf -

explanation: open netcat to -l listen on -p port 2022, take the data stream and pipe to tar -x extract, -v verbose, -f using file filename - means "stdin"

on the sending side:

tar -cvzf - ./*| nc -w 3 name_of_listening_host 2022

explanation: compress all files in current dir using tar -c create, -v verbose, -f using file, - filename - here means "stdout" because we're tar -c instead of tar -x, -w3 wait 3 seconds on stream termination and then end the connection to the listening host name_of_listening_host, on port 2022


There are 3 alternatives - vote for the best!

Terminal - Alternatives

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What others think

If you have scp on the client and the corresponding daemon on the server side, you can just use

scp filename user@host:/target/directory
Comment by DNSpyder 316 weeks ago

Curious why a sudo is needed in "sudo nc -lp 2022"

(port 2022 is not a privileged port)?

Comment by mpb 316 weeks ago

But where is the compression?

You should pipe your data through bzip2, gzip whatever.

Comment by OJM 316 weeks ago


Good catch - I left out the "-z" option that filters the archive through gzip. Post modified.


I should have pointed out that port 2022 is arbitrary and was open for me when I needed this command. It could be replaced with whatever works for you though.


scp works, but the combination of netcat & tar is faster even with compression turned on in scp (-C).

Comment by smcpherson 316 weeks ago

If you need encryption then use cryptcat:


Comment by OJM 316 weeks ago


Comment by asmoore82 315 weeks and 3 days ago

This works in reverse, too, i.e. the listening side can be the "sender":

# on the listening/sending side tar -cvzf - ./* | nc -v -l 2022 # on the receiving side nc -v -w3 name_of_listening_host 2022 | tar -xvf -

The listening netcat will wait for the incoming connection before it starts sending the input piped from tar.

Comment by jordan 118 weeks ago

Your point of view

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