Simple SSH Commands for Working with Files

Whether you’ve got a simple VPS, a dedicated server, or even a complicated array of machines doing your web-related bidding, working with your remote server via secure shell – typically called SSH – can save you time and headaches by bypassing some of the more time-consuming methods of working with files – especially abnormally large files that the software on your server may face trouble with (PHP upload limit, anyone?).

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SSH and the idea of working within a shell via a command line is usually on the lower end of things casual web developers are familiar with, but don’t let its obscurity fool you into believing that using SSH is only for advanced server admins! Here are the simple steps needed for you to start utilizing SSH for simple operations in five minutes or less:

  1. Download Putty, the most used SSH client on the planet.
  2. Run putty.exe and input your server’s IP address. Click “Open”.
  3. Enter your username and then the associated password to log onto the server.
  4. Use one of the following commands to perform a given operation:
    • Move file/directory: mv /location/of/file /destination/location
    • Recursive copy file/directory: cp -R location/of/file /destination/location
    • Delete file/directory: rm /location/of/file

That’s it!

These operations are at the bottom of the capability scale where SSH is concerned and will be easily recognizable to server technicians, but they can be an invaluable addition to the jack-of-all-trades web developer’s tool belt!

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