It is used widely to archive and unarchive files, which means to accumulate a large collection of files into a single archive file (packer), while preserving FileSystem information such as user and group permissions, dates, and directory structures. Tarballs are commonly used to pack source code.
tar itself does not support compression directly. It is most commonly used in tandem with an external compression utility such as gzip or bzip2. These compression utilities generally only compress a single file, hence the pairing with tar, which can produce a single file from many files.
The MIME type of tar archives is application/x-tar
- .tar.gz or .tgz (only when compressed by gzip)
- .tar.bz2 or .tbz (only when compressed by bzip2)