Package tar

import "archive/tar"

Overview ▾

Package tar implements access to tar archives.

Tape archives (tar) are a file format for storing a sequence of files that can be read and written in a streaming manner. This package aims to cover most variations of the format, including those produced by GNU and BSD tar tools.

Example (Minimal)


// Create and add some files to the archive.
var buf bytes.Buffer
tw := tar.NewWriter(&buf)
var files = []struct {
    Name, Body string
    {"readme.txt", "This archive contains some text files."},
    {"gopher.txt", "Gopher names:\nGeorge\nGeoffrey\nGonzo"},
    {"todo.txt", "Get animal handling license."},
for _, file := range files {
    hdr := &tar.Header{
        Name: file.Name,
        Mode: 0600,
        Size: int64(len(file.Body)),
    if err := tw.WriteHeader(hdr); err != nil {
    if _, err := tw.Write([]byte(file.Body)); err != nil {
if err := tw.Close(); err != nil {

// Open and iterate through the files in the archive.
tr := tar.NewReader(&buf)
for {
    hdr, err := tr.Next()
    if err == io.EOF {
        break // End of archive
    if err != nil {
    fmt.Printf("Contents of %s:\n", hdr.Name)
    if _, err := io.Copy(os.Stdout, tr); err != nil {


Contents of readme.txt:
This archive contains some text files.
Contents of gopher.txt:
Gopher names:
Contents of todo.txt:
Get animal handling license.


Type flags for Header.Typeflag.

const (
    // Type '0' indicates a regular file.
    TypeReg = '0'

    // Deprecated: Use TypeReg instead.
    TypeRegA = '\x00'

    // Type '1' to '6' are header-only flags and may not have a data body.
    TypeLink    = '1' // Hard link
    TypeSymlink = '2' // Symbolic link
    TypeChar    = '3' // Character device node
    TypeBlock   = '4' // Block device node
    TypeDir     = '5' // Directory
    TypeFifo    = '6' // FIFO node

    // Type '7' is reserved.
    TypeCont = '7'

    // Type 'x' is used by the PAX format to store key-value records that
    // are only relevant to the next file.
    // This package transparently handles these types.
    TypeXHeader = 'x'

    // Type 'g' is used by the PAX format to store key-value records that
    // are relevant to all subsequent files.
    // This package only supports parsing and composing such headers,
    // but does not currently support persisting the global state across files.
    TypeXGlobalHeader = 'g'

    // Type 'S' indicates a sparse file in the GNU format.
    TypeGNUSparse = 'S'

    // Types 'L' and 'K' are used by the GNU format for a meta file
    // used to store the path or link name for the next file.
    // This package transparently handles these types.
    TypeGNULongName = 'L'
    TypeGNULongLink = 'K'


var (
    ErrHeader          = errors.New("archive/tar: invalid tar header")
    ErrWriteTooLong    = errors.New("archive/tar: write too long")
    ErrFieldTooLong    = errors.New("archive/tar: header field too long")
    ErrWriteAfterClose = errors.New("archive/tar: write after close")
    ErrInsecurePath    = errors.New("archive/tar: insecure file path")

type Format 1.10

Format represents the tar archive format.

The original tar format was introduced in Unix V7. Since then, there have been multiple competing formats attempting to standardize or extend the V7 format to overcome its limitations. The most common formats are the USTAR, PAX, and GNU formats, each with their own advantages and limitations.

The following table captures the capabilities of each format:

                  |  USTAR |       PAX |       GNU
Name              |   256B | unlimited | unlimited
Linkname          |   100B | unlimited | unlimited
Size              | uint33 | unlimited |    uint89
Mode              | uint21 |    uint21 |    uint57
Uid/Gid           | uint21 | unlimited |    uint57
Uname/Gname       |    32B | unlimited |       32B
ModTime           | uint33 | unlimited |     int89
AccessTime        |    n/a | unlimited |     int89
ChangeTime        |    n/a | unlimited |     int89
Devmajor/Devminor | uint21 |    uint21 |    uint57
string encoding   |  ASCII |     UTF-8 |    binary
sub-second times  |     no |       yes |        no
sparse files      |     no |       yes |       yes

The table's upper portion shows the Header fields, where each format reports the maximum number of bytes allowed for each string field and the integer type used to store each numeric field (where timestamps are stored as the number of seconds since the Unix epoch).

The table's lower portion shows specialized features of each format, such as supported string encodings, support for sub-second timestamps, or support for sparse files.

The Writer currently provides no support for sparse files.

type Format int

Constants to identify various tar formats.

const (

    // FormatUnknown indicates that the format is unknown.
    FormatUnknown Format

    // FormatUSTAR represents the USTAR header format defined in POSIX.1-1988.
    // While this format is compatible with most tar readers,
    // the format has several limitations making it unsuitable for some usages.
    // Most notably, it cannot support sparse files, files larger than 8GiB,
    // filenames larger than 256 characters, and non-ASCII filenames.
    // Reference:
    //	http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/utilities/pax.html#tag_20_92_13_06

    // FormatPAX represents the PAX header format defined in POSIX.1-2001.
    // PAX extends USTAR by writing a special file with Typeflag TypeXHeader
    // preceding the original header. This file contains a set of key-value
    // records, which are used to overcome USTAR's shortcomings, in addition to
    // providing the ability to have sub-second resolution for timestamps.
    // Some newer formats add their own extensions to PAX by defining their
    // own keys and assigning certain semantic meaning to the associated values.
    // For example, sparse file support in PAX is implemented using keys
    // defined by the GNU manual (e.g., "GNU.sparse.map").
    // Reference:
    //	http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/009695399/utilities/pax.html

    // FormatGNU represents the GNU header format.
    // The GNU header format is older than the USTAR and PAX standards and
    // is not compatible with them. The GNU format supports
    // arbitrary file sizes, filenames of arbitrary encoding and length,
    // sparse files, and other features.
    // It is recommended that PAX be chosen over GNU unless the target
    // application can only parse GNU formatted archives.
    // Reference:
    //	https://www.gnu.org/software/tar/manual/html_node/Standard.html

func (Format) String 1.10

func (f Format) String() string

A Header represents a single header in a tar archive. Some fields may not be populated.

For forward compatibility, users that retrieve a Header from Reader.Next, mutate it in some ways, and then pass it back to Writer.WriteHeader should do so by creating a new Header and copying the fields that they are interested in preserving.

type Header struct {
    // Typeflag is the type of header entry.
    // The zero value is automatically promoted to either TypeReg or TypeDir
    // depending on the presence of a trailing slash in Name.
    Typeflag byte

    Name     string // Name of file entry
    Linkname string // Target name of link (valid for TypeLink or TypeSymlink)

    Size  int64  // Logical file size in bytes
    Mode  int64  // Permission and mode bits
    Uid   int    // User ID of owner
    Gid   int    // Group ID of owner
    Uname string // User name of owner
    Gname string // Group name of owner

    // If the Format is unspecified, then Writer.WriteHeader rounds ModTime
    // to the nearest second and ignores the AccessTime and ChangeTime fields.
    // To use AccessTime or ChangeTime, specify the Format as PAX or GNU.
    // To use sub-second resolution, specify the Format as PAX.
    ModTime    time.Time // Modification time
    AccessTime time.Time // Access time (requires either PAX or GNU support)
    ChangeTime time.Time // Change time (requires either PAX or GNU support)

    Devmajor int64 // Major device number (valid for TypeChar or TypeBlock)
    Devminor int64 // Minor device number (valid for TypeChar or TypeBlock)

    // Xattrs stores extended attributes as PAX records under the
    // "SCHILY.xattr." namespace.
    // The following are semantically equivalent:
    //  h.Xattrs[key] = value
    //  h.PAXRecords["SCHILY.xattr."+key] = value
    // When Writer.WriteHeader is called, the contents of Xattrs will take
    // precedence over those in PAXRecords.
    // Deprecated: Use PAXRecords instead.
    Xattrs map[string]string // Go 1.3

    // PAXRecords is a map of PAX extended header records.
    // User-defined records should have keys of the following form:
    //	VENDOR.keyword
    // Where VENDOR is some namespace in all uppercase, and keyword may
    // not contain the '=' character (e.g., "GOLANG.pkg.version").
    // The key and value should be non-empty UTF-8 strings.
    // When Writer.WriteHeader is called, PAX records derived from the
    // other fields in Header take precedence over PAXRecords.
    PAXRecords map[string]string // Go 1.10

    // Format specifies the format of the tar header.
    // This is set by Reader.Next as a best-effort guess at the format.
    // Since the Reader liberally reads some non-compliant files,
    // it is possible for this to be FormatUnknown.
    // If the format is unspecified when Writer.WriteHeader is called,
    // then it uses the first format (in the order of USTAR, PAX, GNU)
    // capable of encoding this Header (see Format).
    Format Format // Go 1.10

func FileInfoHeader 1.1

func FileInfoHeader(fi fs.FileInfo, link string) (*Header, error)

FileInfoHeader creates a partially-populated Header from fi. If fi describes a symlink, FileInfoHeader records link as the link target. If fi describes a directory, a slash is appended to the name.

Since fs.FileInfo's Name method only returns the base name of the file it describes, it may be necessary to modify Header.Name to provide the full path name of the file.

func (*Header) FileInfo 1.1

func (h *Header) FileInfo() fs.FileInfo

FileInfo returns an fs.FileInfo for the Header.

type Reader

Reader provides sequential access to the contents of a tar archive. Reader.Next advances to the next file in the archive (including the first), and then Reader can be treated as an io.Reader to access the file's data.

type Reader struct {
    // contains filtered or unexported fields

func NewReader

func NewReader(r io.Reader) *Reader

NewReader creates a new Reader reading from r.

func (*Reader) Next

func (tr *Reader) Next() (*Header, error)

Next advances to the next entry in the tar archive. The Header.Size determines how many bytes can be read for the next file. Any remaining data in the current file is automatically discarded. At the end of the archive, Next returns the error io.EOF.

If Next encounters a non-local name (as defined by filepath.IsLocal) and the GODEBUG environment variable contains `tarinsecurepath=0`, Next returns the header with an ErrInsecurePath error. A future version of Go may introduce this behavior by default. Programs that want to accept non-local names can ignore the ErrInsecurePath error and use the returned header.

func (*Reader) Read

func (tr *Reader) Read(b []byte) (int, error)

Read reads from the current file in the tar archive. It returns (0, io.EOF) when it reaches the end of that file, until [Next] is called to advance to the next file.

If the current file is sparse, then the regions marked as a hole are read back as NUL-bytes.

Calling Read on special types like TypeLink, TypeSymlink, TypeChar, TypeBlock, TypeDir, and TypeFifo returns (0, io.EOF) regardless of what the [Header.Size] claims.

type Writer

Writer provides sequential writing of a tar archive. Writer.WriteHeader begins a new file with the provided Header, and then Writer can be treated as an io.Writer to supply that file's data.

type Writer struct {
    // contains filtered or unexported fields

func NewWriter

func NewWriter(w io.Writer) *Writer

NewWriter creates a new Writer writing to w.

func (*Writer) AddFS 1.22

func (tw *Writer) AddFS(fsys fs.FS) error

AddFS adds the files from fs.FS to the archive. It walks the directory tree starting at the root of the filesystem adding each file to the tar archive while maintaining the directory structure.

func (*Writer) Close

func (tw *Writer) Close() error

Close closes the tar archive by flushing the padding, and writing the footer. If the current file (from a prior call to Writer.WriteHeader) is not fully written, then this returns an error.

func (*Writer) Flush

func (tw *Writer) Flush() error

Flush finishes writing the current file's block padding. The current file must be fully written before Flush can be called.

This is unnecessary as the next call to Writer.WriteHeader or Writer.Close will implicitly flush out the file's padding.

func (*Writer) Write

func (tw *Writer) Write(b []byte) (int, error)

Write writes to the current file in the tar archive. Write returns the error ErrWriteTooLong if more than Header.Size bytes are written after Writer.WriteHeader.

Calling Write on special types like TypeLink, TypeSymlink, TypeChar, TypeBlock, TypeDir, and TypeFifo returns (0, ErrWriteTooLong) regardless of what the [Header.Size] claims.

func (*Writer) WriteHeader

func (tw *Writer) WriteHeader(hdr *Header) error

WriteHeader writes hdr and prepares to accept the file's contents. The Header.Size determines how many bytes can be written for the next file. If the current file is not fully written, then this returns an error. This implicitly flushes any padding necessary before writing the header.