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20 Top Most Used & Common SSH Commands

As promised, I will teach babies* to manage unmanaged server from scratch. It means I’ll try to bring those babies from zero to hero being a Server Ninja. Hence, for my early posts I will firstly write all basic things for newbie server admins should know. In this page I list all necessary, most-used and common SSH commands useful to navigate through SSH client like Putty. I believe these commands are working on any Unix-based servers.

* babies = newbies with no knowledge about Linux and server at all

If you are really a newbie, then you should bookmark this page otherwise simply skip this post.

My next plan: I will post other articles of basic guides how to do things in your server via SSH. Browse it all here.

Requirements To SSH

  • A working SSH client like Putty (Windows) or Terminal (Mac and Linux)
  • A working Linux-based server with SSH enabled
  • A cup of coffee if you wish
  • A computer with stable Internet connection

Some Conventions

  1. Hit Enter or Return key on your keyboard after every each command / line
  2. Each line is a single raw of command unless specified otherwise
  3. Replace with your own domain name and TLD
  4. Replace with IP address of your own server
  5. Replace example paths and file names according to your server information
  6. If a path ends with slash “/” then its a directory
  7. A directory: “/path/to/directory/” will always end with slash “/”
  8. A file: “/path/to/file” won’t have slash “/” in the end
  9. A file is not always having extension in the end of the file name

OK, so lets start with the most common commands to SSH you should know..


1. How to move into another directory
Use command below to change directory

cd [another directory]

example: move to directory “download”

cd download

2. How to go to home directory

cd ~

3. How go to the last directory you were in

cd -

4. How to go up a directory level

cd ..

5. How to show the full path of the current directory
Use this command to find out where are you currently in.


6. How to list files and/or directories in a directory

ls (just type ls and hit enter)

7. How to list all files and information

ls -al

8. How to list all files ending with certain extension

ls *.ext


ls *.php

9. How to list all files and folders with detailed information including file size

ls -alh

10. How to quit and exit SSH client


File Management

11. How to copy and rename file
Use this command to copy and rename a file

cp [filename] [new filename]

example: we’ll rename banner.jpg to banner728px.jpg

cp banner.jpg banner728px.jpg

example: we’ll cope banner.jpg to a folder called “ads”

cp banner.jpg ads/banner.jpg

example: copying and renaming at once

cp banner.jpg ads/banner728px.jpg

ps: original file will remain, it is just copied.

12. How to move and rename file
Use this command to move and rename file

mv [old filename] [new filename]

example: moving a file to another directory

mv banner.jpg ads/banner.jpg

example: moving a file to another directory and renaming it at once

mv banner.jpg ads/banner728px.jpg

ps: original file will be deleted as it was moved to another location
pps: you can also move a folder

example: moving “image” folder to “media” folder

mv image/ media

example: moving “image” folder to upper directory

mv image/ ..

13. How to delete / remove a file

rm [file name]


rm banner.jpg

14. How to delete / remove all files in current directory

rm *

15. How to delete files with certain extension

rm *.extension

example: remove all files with .jpg extension

rm *.jpg

16. How to copy a folder with all files and folders in it

cp -r [directory] [new directory]

17. How to create new folder

mkdir [folder name]


mkdir image

18. How to search for a file starting within current directory

find . -name [filename] -print

example: find a file called “banner.jpg” in current folder

find . -name banner.jpg -print

19. How to search for text within a file

grep [text] [filename]

example: find the word “sidebar” in file index.php

grep sidebar index.php

20. CHMOD – how to change file permission

chmod [permission type] [file/folder name]


chmod 777 config.php

Available permission type: (below is not command)

First number is for the owner, second for the group, and third for everyone.
7 = Read + Write + Execute
6 = Read + Write
5 = Read + Execute
4 = Read
3 = Write + Execute
2 = Write
1 = Execute
0 = All access denied


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