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Move and copy files using SSH

Often you will need to move one or more files/folders or copy them to a different location. You can do so easily using an SSH connection. The commands which you would need to use are mv (short from move) and cp (short from copy).

The mv command syntax looks like this:

By issuing the above command we will move (rename) the file configuration.php-dist to configuration.php.

You can also use mv to move a whole directory and its content:

This will move all files (and folders) in the includes/ directory to the current working directory.

In some cases however, we will need to only update the files and move only files that were changed, which we can do by passing ‘-u’ as argument to the command:

The copy (cp) command works the same way as mv, but instead of moving the files/folders it copies them. For example:

The command will copy the configuration.php-dist file to configuration.php and will preserve the original file (the file will NOT be removed after it is copied).

cp also accepts various arguments:

-R instructs cp to copy files recursively (for example, a whole directory). To overwrite already existing files you should use the -f argument:

cp -Rf includes/ admin/includes/A more convenient way to copy files/folders is to use a 3rd party application, such as Midnight Commander. All our servers have mc (midnight commander) installed and it is available by executing the appropriate (mc) command using the command prompt.  Once inside the application you will see two sections – left and right. You can easily copy/move files from the left side directory to the right side using a semi-visual approach. You can even use your mouse to select files and function keys to execute commands.

You can see a picture of it below:


As you can see on the screenshot, there are numbers from 1 to 10 at the bottom of the console screen. These represents shortcuts to certain commands and are activated using the corresponding function key (i.e F1 for help, F5 to copy, etc).


September 5, 2013 | Tags:
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