Common SSH commands

This is a list of commonly used SSH commands that I used to keep in a file on my computer, while managing the server I open this file often so I am thinking others might need this too. For more advanced commands like compressing and decompressing multi-part archives, I will create separate articles.

To delete an entire directory and its files

rm -r -f YourDirectory

Obviously you should use extreme caution and do not remove files you need.

Get the file size in MB

du -m

Get the complete directory size

du -sh .

List files with size and details next to them

ls -alh

Count total files in a directory

ls -1 targetdir | wc -l

Replace "targetdir" with a dot to count files or folders in current directory.

Search for a string in all files

grep -r -l "whatever" *

"whatever" is the string to look for, and * tells it to look in all files in current directory, or specify a directory like this: grep -r -l "whatever" /var

Change the file owner and group of files

chown -R adrian:psacln *

Where "adrian" is the user of the files and psacln is the group. If you don't know what name and group to use, then do a "sh -alh" and look at your other file's owner and group name.

When not able to read/write files, bad file owner might be the cause rather than permission code (0777, 0755, etc)

Change permission code of a file

chmod 0777 my_file.txt

Changes the file permission codes, 0777 makes a file writable by all, other permission codes are 0755, etc. If you have trouble reading/writing a file make sure that file owner and group is the same with yout other "normal" files that can be read/written by you.

Creating and extracting zip files

I recommend using zip files when you need to move sites to another server, zipping the files works well if site is under 1GB, and transfering one large file will be much faster than using FTP for each file in site. For sites/backups over 1GB I you should use multi-volume .tar archives that need few more commands.

To create a zip of current directory you are in (note the "*"), use this command, note that the ".htaccess" tells it to also load .htaccess file from current directory, otherwise it might be skipped:

zip -r * .htaccess

To test the created zip file:

zip -T

To unpack the zip file:


Export and import large database

These commands will allow you to quickly move databases between servers, or create local backups of your database

Export a database to an .sql file (backup.sql):

mysqldump --add-drop-table -h -u username -p dbname > backup.sql

Where you will need to replace with your domain name ("localhost" also works), also replace database username and database name; iIt will ASK for password AFTER entering the command !!!

Then to import this file into a database:

mysql -h -u username -p dbname < backup.sql

Tip: you can move files between servers with wget command:


but make sure you do not leave db your files online for everyone to read

Get the CPU details of your server

This would probably be useful for dedicated servers and virtual dedicated servers, it tells you processor model, cache size, speed, etc

cat /proc/cpuinfo