Common Ssh Commands

This isn’t my work, I copied it to my blog for safe keeping. The original is here:

Common SSH Commands

  • Applies to: All Service Types
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 5 minutes
  • Tools needed: ssh


Not all of these commands will run on all Hosting Products.

This is a list of Common commands that can be run from root / SSH access.

I. Basic Commands

A. Retrieve Plesk Admin Password

cat /etc/psa/.psa.shadow

B. Change Directory (cd)

cd /path/to/directory/

C. Listing Files/SubFolders (ls)

ls -alh

(files and subfolders listed with perms in human-readable sizes)

D. Checking Processes

ps -a top -c

(process viewer – Ctrl+C to exit)

ps -auxf

(process list)

E. Start/Stop Services

/etc/init.d/ start|stop|restart|status

(“/etc/init.d/httpd stop” stops apache)

F. Check Bean Counters (hard and soft limits, failcounts, etc.)

cat /proc/user_beancounters

II. File System Commands (df & du are (dv)-only commands)

A. Check Total Disk Usage


(gives physical disk usage report with % used)

B. List Files/Folders +Sizes (du)


(lists all filesizes. This will take some time.)

du -sh

(lists all the subfolders/sizes in a dir)

C. Remove/Delete Files (rm /path/to/filename.htm) -DANGER- always verify

rm -vf

(force-deletes file. Dont run unless you know EXACTLY what you’re doing)

rm -vrf

(force deletes folder and all subfolders and files)

To Remove a Directory you can use the following command:


D. Copy Files (cp)

cp /new/path/

E. Move Files (mv)

mv /new/path/

F. Create Empty File (touch)

touch filename.123

III. File Permissions and Ownership

A. Change Permissions of files (chmod)

chmod 000

(defaults are usually 755 for folders, 644 for files)


1st digit=Owner; 2nd=Group; 3rd=Other
(-rwxrwxwrx = 777, -rwxr-xr-x = 755, -rw-r–r– = 644, etc.)
7 = Read + Write + Execute
6 = Read + Write
5 = Read + Execute
4 = Read
3 = Write + Execute
2 = Write
1 = Execute
0 = All access denied

B. Change Ownership of files (chmown)

chown user:group

(you can see user and group w/ ls -alh)


Anytime a user creates a file, the Ownership of the file matches that user. In Plesk, every domain that has hosting has a different user. So if you are copying files from one domain to another, you must remember to change ownership.

IV. Checking Log Files (dv)

Log files can tell you a lot about whats going on on a (dv). You can use the command:
‘tail -n 100’ before the logfile name to list the last 100 entries of the logfile.

Here are some of the most common:

A. Main Error Log


B. Apache Error Log




(per-domain) (May also be: /var/www/vhosts on newer dvs)

C. MySQL Logs


D. Mail Logs



Common issues to look out for in log files

  • The main error log will not always give you all the information you want for a svc.
  • You may see alot of failed SSH and FTP connections, that is generally normal.
  • Keep an eye out for MaxClients errors in the Apache logs if a customer is complaining of Apache dying alot. You can check the KB for raising MaxClients settings.
  • If a customer does not set up Log Rotation for a domain under Plesk, then Log Files will build up and may take up alot of unneeded space. You can usually delete old log files in Plesk, and change the Log Rotation to Daily instead of by size.
  • MailLogs can show you if a customer is spamming, or if mail is coming in or out.
  • MySQL Logs should be able to show you general MySQL errors such as bad connections, or corrupted tables. Check the Int. KB for the ‘myisamchk -r’ repair table command.

V. Advanced Commands

A. Find. You can do alot with find. for now lets find all files over 10MB.

cd /
find / -type f -size +10000k -exec ls -lh {} \; | awk '{ print $5 ": " $9 }' |sort -n

B. Grep. Another handy tool to get specific information

cat file | grep blah

(only lists the information where the word blah is found)

C. Less/More


(displays the content of a file. arrows to scroll, ‘q’ to quit.)

more == same thing basically. You can use the ‘| more’ command to scroll through something page or line at a time.

tail -n 1000 /var/log/httpd/error_log | more

VI. Vi is a basic text editor.

Careful what keys you hit while in vi.

vi /path/to/


You can learn more about using the VI/VIM text editor by reading the following guide:

Understanding basic vi (visual editor)


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