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To tar the current directory into one file and save the new file in the parent directory, and then zip the file:
$ tar cf - . | gzip > ../filename.tgz
To extract, first change to the location you want the files (ie. create the outermost directory of the archive and then cd to it) and then:
$ zcat /some/path/filename.tgz | tar xvf -
Create an Archive (long tags)
$ tar --create --verbose --preserve \
--ignore-failed-read --file=<file to write to> <files to tar>
Create an archive (with compression)
$ tar -cjvf test.tar.bz home/
Extract an archive (with decompression)
$ tar -xvvzf myfile.tar.gz
Some common arguments
$ tar -j (--bzip)
$ tar -v (--verbose)
$ tar -z (--gzip)
$ tar -x (--extract)
$ tar -c (--create)
$ tar -t (--list)
$ tar -f (--file)
$ tar -p (--preserve)
$ tar --ignore-failed-read
$ tar --totals (prints total bytes written with --create.