November 22, 2019
7 min Read
November 22, 2019
7 min Read
In this tutorial, we are going to cover 17 basic SSH commands that you should know about. By learning them, you will understand how to navigate and manage your VPS or server using the command line.
Before we begin, make sure that you have access to a remote server. If you own a Hostinger VPS plan, the login details are located in the Servers tab of hPanel. However, if you use our shared hosting, you need to go to Hosting -> Advanced -> SSH Access.
SSH stands for Secure Shell, a protocol used to securely connect to a remote server/system. If you want to learn more about it, we have a detailed tutorial on how SSH works.
Now let’s start accessing your remote server:
Remember to replace “user” with your real username and “serverip” with your server’s dedicated or shared IP address.
That’s it. Now you’re connected to the server and can start executing SSH commands.
In this part, we will go through popular SSH commands, complete with their syntaxes and useful options.
This SSH command is used to list all files and directories. After entering ls, you will see an output that looks like this:
There are also a few useful options that you can combine with it:
cd (Change Directory) is the command that we use to jump between directories. It’s a pretty simple command — just type cd followed by the name of the directory:
As such, if you want to enter the home directory of your server, you can type:
You may also write the full path of a certain directory if it is a few levels deep. For instance:
You are now in the AnotherDirectory.
To go back one level, you can simply enter “..” (two dots) after cd command. What’s cool, you can go back further by adding another two-dots and separating them with a forward slash (/):
By entering this line, you are in the home directory again.
You can use mkdir (Make Directory) command to create a directory. This is the syntax:
mkdir [folder name]
Let’s assume you want to create a new folder named “myfolder”. You will need to type:
This SSH command is used to create a new file. Here is the syntax:
touch [file name]
If you want to create a .txt file named “myfile”, this is what you need to write:
The file extension could be anything you want. You can even create a file with no extension at all.
rm command removes a chosen file or directory. To delete a file, enter:
rm [file name]
For instance, if you want to remove myfile.txt, simply execute:
To delete a folder, you need to use the -r option to remove all the files and subfolders inside it:
rm -r home/hostinger/myfolder
We use cat command to display the content of a file. Below is the syntax:
cat [file name]
It also allows you to create a new file by merging multiple files. For example:
cat info.txt info2.txt > mergedinfo.text
By executing this line, the content of info.txt and info2.txt will be saved into mergedinfo.txt.
pwd is a simple command that outputs the full path of your working directory. Once entered, you should see a result like this:
pwd command can come in really handy when you are accessing your shared hosting account through SSH. Oftentimes, shared servers don’t tell you the directory you are in.
This SSH command will copy files and folders. The syntax is:
cp [options] [source] [destination]
[source] is the file or folder you want to copy and [destination] is the duplicate.
Let’s say you have myfile.txt in your working directory, and you want to make a copy of it. The syntax would be:
cp myfile.txt myfile2.txt
If you want to make a copy in a different folder, run the following command:
cp /home/hostinger/myfile.txt /home/etc/
Be careful when writing the name of the destination. If you provide two file names, the cp command will copy the content of the source file into the destination file. Thus, the destination file will be overwritten without any warning. However, if the destination file doesn’t exist, then the command will create a new file.
[options] is not mandatory. However, there are several options that you can use:
Unlike duplicating files, copying folders requires you to use the -R (recursive) option. The option allows all folders and files inside it to be copied.
cp -R /home/hostinger/myfolder /home/etc/
This command works similarly to cp. However, mv command will move the file or folder instead of copying it. This is the syntax:
mv [source] [destination]
Let’s say we want to move myfile.txt from /home/hostinger/ftp to /home/hostinger/myfolder/. The command should be:
mv /home/hostinger/ftp/myfile.txt /home/hostinger/myfolder
Unlike cp command, you don’t need the -R option to move a folder. For instance:
mv /home/hostinger/ftp/ /home/hostinger/myfolder/
This will automatically move all files and subfolders inside ftp to myfolder.
grep command looks for a given string in files. For example:
grep 'line' info.txt
The above command would search for ‘line’ in a file named “info.txt”. What’s great, the command will print the entire line that contains the matched text.
Keep in mind that this command is case sensitive. If you want to ignore letter cases, use -i option.
We enter this SSH command to search for a file or files that meet the given criteria (name, size, file type, etc). The following is the basic syntax:
find [starting directory] [options] [search term]
[starting directory] is where you would like to start your search process. There are three main choices:
[options] is an additional argument that you can use to refine your search. Some of the most popular options are:
[search term] is the keyword or number that you use to search for files.
Take a look at this example:
find . -name “index”
This command will return any files that have the word “index” on their names. And since we use “.” (dot), the command will only search the working directory.
We also have a great tutorial that provides an in-depth explanation about this SSH command.
Vi and Nano are two popular text editors that you can use in the command line. To open a file using Vi or Nano, you just need to enter:
vi [file name]
nano [file name]
If the specified file doesn’t exist, both text editors will automatically create it for you.
Unfortunately, some Linux distributions don’t offer Nano by default. Don’t worry, you can read our guide on how to install and use Nano.
This one is used to display the last used commands. You need to enter a number to limit the displayed results. For example:
As you probably guess, the example will show the 20 most recently entered commands.
The function of clear command is simple — it clears all text from the terminal screen.
tar is an SSH command that creates or extracts .tar.gz files. It is very popular because most third-party software binaries are in the .tar.gz format.
To archive a folder in .tar.gz format, use the following command:
tar cvzf ArchiveName.tar.gz /path/to/directory
To unpack a .tar.gz file, enter this command:
tar xvzf FileName.tar.gz
Notice that both commands use different four-character options — cvzf and xvzf. Each letter represents a specific instruction:
wget is used to download files from the internet. For example, to fetch a file from a website and store it in our current directory, we’ll use:
If you want to download multiple files, put all URLs into a file and use the -i option.
Let’s say the file containing the links is called downloads.txt. The command will look like this:
wget -i downloads.txt
You can use du (Disk Usage) command to view the size of files and folders in a specified directory:
du [directory path]
Unfortunately, the summary will show disk block numbers instead of bytes, kilobytes, and megabytes. Therefore, to show it in a human-readable format, you need to insert the -h option after du command:
du -h /home
The results will be more understandable:
Check out this article to read more about du command.
Learning SSH commands is crucial for managing Linux server or VPS. It is the most effective way to navigate through your system and modify files or folders.
Thankfully, you have learned 17 essential SSH commands that every webmaster should know. Now you can easily perform basic tasks on your remote machine, such as creating files, deleting them, jumping between directories, and so on.
Feel free to comment below if you have any questions!
February 11, 2018
Can anyone help with this? I am trying to change directory to 'file001', however cd is not available. Here's the text: user@user1$ ls -a /root/lists: . .. .file001 user@user1$ cd root/lists/file001 Sorry, bad command or not available
Replied on April 21, 2018
December 03, 2018
Thanks for your effort. Useful collection and good, clean description
April 28, 2019
Thank you very much for helping you all ... The description and explanation of the subject attracts any interested in it .. Thanks again Greetings ...
Replied on September 17, 2019
Thank you so much about your efforts .