root@server # tar fcz bkup.tar.gz /home/foo/
tar: Removing leading `/' from member names

How can I solve this problem and keep the / on file names ?

  • 2
    What exactly is not working as expected? – Joachim Isaksson Dec 23 '12 at 12:48
  • 42
    It is not a problem. You do not want leading slashes in a tar archive. Seriously. If you want to extract an archive to your system root, specify -C / when extracting it. – ThiefMaster Dec 23 '12 at 15:31

Use the --absolute-names or -P option to disable this feature.

tar fczP bkup.tar.gz /home/foo/

tar fcz bkup.tar.gz --absolute-names /home/foo
  • 69
    This is the correct answer, but be aware, that in most cases, this is not what you want, cause it results in an archive that extracts in complete paths! – rubo77 Nov 21 '13 at 10:04
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    Using the -C / option as described in @Marcus' answer will git rid of the STDERR message if that is your primary goal. – Matt Sanders Dec 28 '13 at 22:29
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    As @rubo77 commented, usually this is not the expected result of the command. – alfredocambera Aug 25 '16 at 15:16
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    Most of the time this is not what a user wants, simply because most of them don't read the manual until they need to (ain't nobody got time for that). So, it would be wise to, at least, expand your answer, warning people not to do this unless they are absolutely sure they understand what's the effect of it. Especially being accepted as an answer. – Mladen B. Dec 2 '17 at 7:16
  • 3
    great, why not give an example though? where do these commands go? at the end? the beginning? in between? – Toskan Sep 5 '18 at 5:20

If you want to get rid of "Removing leading `/' from member names" being printed to STDERR, but still want to leave off those leading slashes as tar wisely does by default, I saw an excellent solution here by commenter timsoft.

The solution involves using -C option to change directory to the root (/), then specifying the file tree to archive without a leading slash, because now you only need a relative path. This does the same thing as a normal tar create command, but no stripping is needed:

tar fcz bkup.tar.gz -C / home/foo/
  • It won't work with incremental backups. But a good answer. – gajdipajti Aug 5 '14 at 7:12
  • 1
    It also doesn't work if you want to tar files denoted by shell-expansion (e.g. tar c -C / home/foo/*), because the shell doesn't know about the changed root. But still a good answer for other cases. – Boris Apr 15 '15 at 6:27
  • 2
    -C / doesn't work for me, period. It doesn't prevent the stderr for me. – Acumenus Aug 10 '15 at 7:45
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    @A-B-B make sure the path following -C / is relative. – zurfyx Dec 31 '16 at 10:17
  • Will this approach work if a user doesn't have permissions on the root directory? – Mladen B. Dec 2 '17 at 7:20

That's actually a feature, not a problem. Archives with absolute locations are a security risk. Attackers could use such archives to trick users into installing files in critical system locations.

Yes, you could use -P. But what's wrong with allowing tar to remove the forward slash, and simply requiring the user of the archive to explicitly do the extraction in the root directory? Then they're consciously impacting critical system locations, and can't do it by accident.

  • 8
    Sometimes features are problems. I found this thread after setting up a backup script that would email on a non-zero exit status from tar. This particular message was causing tar to exit with a status of 1, which was causing me to receive false email alerts on successful backups, simply because tar was writing this message to STDERR. I fixed this issue by using my own tweaked version of @Marcus's solution: cd /path/to/network/share && tar -cJf scripts.backup.tar.xz -C / home/user/scripts 2>/dev/null || [send an email alert] – rubynorails Dec 14 '15 at 19:14
  • 1
    I think there are some use cases for using -P - for example, if you're providing some kind of filesystem snapshotting feature in FUSE. Some of the time you may want to untar a snapshot in a specific directory rather than the cwd from the perspective of the user. – DIMMSum Nov 28 '16 at 4:11

One month late, but I found the most appropriate solution for my case (in a shell script) is to go to the parent directory and execute the command there.

cd /var/www/
tar -czf mysite.gz mysite

Instead of:

tar -czf /var/www/mysite.gz /var/www/mysite
  • 11
    Indeed you could have done it using: tar -zcvf mysite.gz -C /var/www/ mysite/ The benefit of this is that you can execute it from any directory – alfredocambera Aug 25 '16 at 15:19
  • Thank you for your help. This is what I needed. I didn't want the full path in my tarball, just the destination folder. – Christia Jan 11 '17 at 1:37
  • This should probably have been accepted as a correct answer, I think. – Mladen B. Dec 2 '17 at 7:19
  • I don't see how this answers the question at all.  It's something different that could be done. … … … Like: Q: How do I get from Los Angeles to New York?  A: Go to San Francisco instead. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' May 2 '18 at 20:49
  • I agree with @G-Man . This will result in a tar file with a completely different directory structure. In some cases, that directory structure is actually more appropriate in the first place, but it doesn't answer the question. – Kevin Keane Nov 7 '18 at 18:34

This is how I did it by using brute force method: 2>&1 | grep -v "Removing leading".

For example:

tar -cf "$BKUPDIR/${BKUPFILE}.tar" --overwrite --exclude '.*' --one-file-system "$SRCDIR" 2>&1 | grep -v  "Removing leading"
  • 4
    The problem with this is it hides the error code. So if you want to check the error code from tar in a bash script, then it won't return 0 on success. – Brian Apr 7 '15 at 15:19
  • @staticx, the error code is 0 regardless. – Acumenus Aug 10 '15 at 7:58
  • 1
    @A-B-B My tar command may return 2 on fatal error. – Jite Nov 2 '15 at 15:46
  • 1
    @Brian you can use $PIPESTATUS to get the exit code. See unix.stackexchange.com/questions/14270/… – simpleuser Sep 10 '16 at 17:13

Try to use -C for path only which would prevent compressing with complete paths:

root@server # tar fcz bkup.tar.gz -C /home/ foo/

I solved this problem with:

cd /home/foo && tar czf ~/backup.tar.gz .

that way you aren't trying to put absolute paths into the tar archive in the first place. If you want untar it at the root of the file system you just

cd / && tar xzf backupt.tar.gz after transferring it.


The path of the archive when specified causes this informational message, you can do the following to resolve it:

tar -zvcf /tmp/mike.tar.gz -P /tmp/mike


tar -zvcf mike.tar.gz -P /tmp/mike


tar -zvcf mike.tar.gz /tmp/mike

Note: it is not an error, just informational.


its not a feature, its a bug. removing absolute paths creates an unextractable archive if path data gets fooey somehow. tar spits out the error and refuses to extract anything. better to use tardy to filter the path first.

  • 4
    Welcome to the site, and thank you for your contribution. What exactly do you mean with "fooey"? Which error have you experienced after extracting a TAR archive that had the leading / removed during creation? To what TAR versions does your comment apply? With GNU tar, I certainly haven't experienced any problems during extraction. – AdminBee Aug 21 '20 at 9:52

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