you might often run your

tar fcvz backup_filename.tar.gz files_to_backup

but you would like to add the current date and time at the front of your backup-file.

so what you can do is:

tar fcvz $(date +%Y-%m-%d)_backup_filename.tar.gz files_to_backup

which should result in something like:


have a sustainable life.

as the manpage of date suggests, there are many ways to vary this output:

DATE(1)                                                       User Commands                                                      DATE(1)

       date - print or set the system date and time

       date [OPTION]... [+FORMAT]
       date [-u|--utc|--universal] [MMDDhhmm[[CC]YY][.ss]]

       Display the current time in the given FORMAT, or set the system date.

       Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

       -d, --date=STRING
              display time described by STRING, not 'now'

       -f, --file=DATEFILE
              like --date once for each line of DATEFILE

       -I[TIMESPEC], --iso-8601[=TIMESPEC]
              output  date/time in ISO 8601 format.  TIMESPEC='date' for date only (the default), 'hours', 'minutes', 'seconds', or 'ns'
              for date and time to the indicated precision.

       -r, --reference=FILE
              display the last modification time of FILE

       -R, --rfc-2822
              output date and time in RFC 2822 format.  Example: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 12:34:56 -0600

              output date and time in RFC 3339 format.  TIMESPEC='date', 'seconds', or 'ns' for date and time to  the  indicated  preci‐
              sion.  Date and time components are separated by a single space: 2006-08-07 12:34:56-06:00

       -s, --set=STRING
              set time described by STRING

       -u, --utc, --universal
              print or set Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

       --help display this help and exit

              output version information and exit

       FORMAT controls the output.  Interpreted sequences are:

       %%     a literal %

       %a     locale's abbreviated weekday name (e.g., Sun)

       %A     locale'
s full weekday name (e.g., Sunday)

       %b     locale's abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan)

       %B     locale'
s full month name (e.g., January)

       %c     locale's date and time (e.g., Thu Mar  3 23:05:25 2005)

       %C     century; like %Y, except omit last two digits (e.g., 20)

       %d     day of month (e.g., 01)

       %D     date; same as %m/%d/%y

       %e     day of month, space padded; same as %_d

       %F     full date; same as %Y-%m-%d

       %g     last two digits of year of ISO week number (see %G)

       %G     year of ISO week number (see %V); normally useful only with %V

       %h     same as %b

       %H     hour (00..23)

       %I     hour (01..12)

       %j     day of year (001..366)

       %k     hour, space padded ( 0..23); same as %_H

       %l     hour, space padded ( 1..12); same as %_I

       %m     month (01..12)

       %M     minute (00..59)

       %n     a newline

       %N     nanoseconds (000000000..999999999)

       %p     locale'
s equivalent of either AM or PM; blank if not known

       %P     like %p, but lower case

       %r     locale's 12-hour clock time (e.g., 11:11:04 PM)

       %R     24-hour hour and minute; same as %H:%M

       %s     seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC

       %S     second (00..60)

       %t     a tab

       %T     time; same as %H:%M:%S

       %u     day of week (1..7); 1 is Monday

       %U     week number of year, with Sunday as first day of week (00..53)

       %V     ISO week number, with Monday as first day of week (01..53)

       %w     day of week (0..6); 0 is Sunday

       %W     week number of year, with Monday as first day of week (00..53)

       %x     locale'
s date representation (e.g., 12/31/99)

       %X     locale's time representation (e.g., 23:13:48)

       %y     last two digits of year (00..99)

       %Y     year

       %z     +hhmm numeric time zone (e.g., -0400)

       %:z    +hh:mm numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00)

       %::z   +hh:mm:ss numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00:00)

       %:::z  numeric time zone with : to necessary precision (e.g., -04, +05:30)

       %Z     alphabetic time zone abbreviation (e.g., EDT)

       By default, date pads numeric fields with zeroes.  The following optional flags may follow '

       -      (hyphen) do not pad the field

       _      (underscore) pad with spaces

       0      (zero) pad with zeros

       ^      use upper case if possible

       #      use opposite case if possible

       After  any  flags  comes  an  optional  field width, as a decimal number; then an optional modifier, which is either E to use the
s alternate representations if available, or O to use the locale's alternate numeric symbols if available.

       Convert seconds since the epoch (1970-01-01 UTC) to a date

              $ date --date='

       Show the time on the west coast of the US (use tzselect(1) to find TZ)

              $ TZ='
America/Los_Angeles' date

       Show the local time for 9AM next Friday on the west coast of the US

              $ date --date='
TZ="America/Los_Angeles" 09:00 next Fri'

       The --date=STRING is a mostly free format human readable date string such as "Sun, 29 Feb 2004  16:21:42  -0800"  or  "2004-02-29
       16:21:42"  or  even  "next  Thursday".   A date string may contain items indicating calendar date, time of day, time zone, day of
       week, relative time, relative date, and numbers.  An empty string indicates the beginning of the day.  The date string format  is
       more complex than is easily documented here but is fully described in the info documentation.

       Written by David MacKenzie.

       GNU coreutils online help: <>
       Report date translation bugs to <>

       Copyright © 2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.  License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.
       This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.  There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

       Full documentation at: <>
       or available locally via: info '
(coreutils) date invocation'

GNU coreutils 8.23                                             March 2015                                                        DATE(1)