Linux and Unix cp command

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About cp
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About cp

Copies files and directories.




cp copies SOURCE to the destination DEST, or multiple SOURCE(s) to directory DIRECTORY.


-a, --archive same as -dR --preserve=ALL.
--attributes-only don't copy the file data, just create a file with the same attributes.
--backup[=CONTROL] make a backup of each existing destination file.
-b like --backup, but does not accept an argument.
--copy-contents When operating recursively, copy contents of special files.
-d same as --no-dereference --preserve=links
-f, --force if an existing destination file cannot be opened, remove it and try again (redundant if the -n option is used)
-i, --interactive prompt before overwrite (overrides a previous -n option).
-H follow command-line symbolic links in SOURCE.
-l, --link Create hard links to files instead of copying them.
-L, --dereference always follow symbolic links in SOURCE.
-n, --no-clobber do not overwrite an existing file (overrides a previous -i option).
-P, --no-dereference never follow symbolic links in SOURCE.
-p same as --preserve=mode,ownership,timestamps
--preserve[=ATTR_LIST] preserve the specified attributes (default: mode,ownership,timestamps), if possible additional attributes: context, links, xattr, all.
--no-preserve=ATTR_LIST don't preserve the specified attributes.
--parents use full source file name under DIRECTORY.
-R, -r, --recursive copy directories recursively.
--reflink[=WHEN] control clone/CoW copies.
--remove-destination remove each existing destination file before attempting to open it (contrast with the --force option).
--sparse=WHEN control creation of sparse files.
--strip-trailing-slashes remove any trailing slashes from each SOURCE argument.
-s, --symbolic-link make symbolic links instead of copying.
-S, --suffix=SUFFIX override the usual backup suffix.
-t, --target-directory=DIRECTORY copy all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY
-T, --no-target-directory treat DEST as a normal file
-u, --update copy only when the SOURCE file is newer than the destination file or when the destination file is missing.
-v, --verbose explain what is being done.
-x, --one-file-system stay on this file system.
--help display a help message and exit.
--version output version information and exit.

By default, sparse SOURCE files are detected by a crude heuristic and the corresponding DEST file is made sparse as well. That is the behavior selected by --sparse=auto. Specify --sparse=always to create a sparse DEST file whenever the SOURCE file contains a long enough sequence of zero bytes. Use --sparse=never to inhibit creation of sparse files.

When --reflink[=always] is specified, cp performs a lightweight copy, where the data blocks are copied only when modified. If this is not possible, the copy fails; or, if --reflink=auto is specified, cp falls back to a standard copy operation.

The backup suffix is '~', unless set with --suffix or SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX. The version control method may be selected via the --backup=CONTROL option or through the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable. Here are the values of CONTROL/VERSION_CONTROL:

none, off never make backups (even if --backup is given).
numbered, t make numbered backups.
existing, nil numbered if numbered backups exist, simple otherwise.
simple, never always make simple backups.

As a special case, cp makes a backup of SOURCE when the force and backup options are given and SOURCE and DEST are the same name for an existing, regular file.


cp file1.txt newdir

Copies the file1.txt in the current directory to the newdir subdirectory.

cp /home/public_html/mylog.txt /home/public_html/backup/mylog.bak

Copies the file mylog.txt in the public_html directory into the public_html/backup directory as mylog.bak.

cp -u *.txt newdir

Copy all files ending in .txt into the newdir directory, but only if the files do not already exist in the new directory, or if the files being copied are newer.

cp -r /home/hope/files/* /home/hope/backup

Recursively copies all the files, directories, and subdirectories in the /home/hope/files directory into the /home/hope/backup directory.

Related commands

dd — Copy and convert the encoding of files.
mv — Move files and directories from one location to another, and optionally rename them.