How to Create and Use a Timestamp Variable in Bash

Bash scripting offers a streamlined approach for automating recurring tasks within a Linux or Unix environment. Timestamps play a pivotal role in logging and file management, serving as vital markers in Bash to record the precise moment an event took place or when a file was created or modified.

This article explores the process of generating a timestamp variable within a Bash script and here I have used the Ubuntu 22.04 for demonstration.

How to Create a Timestamp Variable

The following code shows how to create a timestamp variable in Bash:


TIMESTAMP=$(date +%Y%m%d_%H%M%S)

echo "Timestamp: $TIMESTAMP"

In the aforementioned example, we initiate the Bash script interpreter with the declaration #!/bin/bash. Subsequently, we establish a variable named TIMESTAMP_variable by utilizing the date command. The format string %Y%m%d_%H%M%S is employed to represent the date and time in the year, month, day, hour, minute, and second format, with an underscore serving as the separator.

How to Use the Timestamp Variable

An exemplary utilization of the timestamp variable is in logging the commencement of a backup process. By incorporating the timestamp into the log file, we can effortlessly monitor the precise initiation time of the backup process. This proves valuable in terms of troubleshooting and analysis, as it enables us to identify any potential issues that might have arisen throughout the backup process.


TIMESTAMP=$(date +%Y%m%d_%H%M%S)

echo "$TIMESTAMP: Starting the backup process." >> /var/log/backup.log

To append the output to a specified file, namely /var/log/backup.log in this instance, we employ the >> operator. The utilization of the timestamp variable within the log message enables us to effortlessly recognize the precise initiation time of the backup process.

A screenshot of a computer Description automatically generated


This article delved into the creation of a timestamp variable within a Bash script and its diverse applications, including logging and file management. Timestamps hold significant importance in numerous automation tasks and can be conveniently generated using the date command. By leveraging timestamps, you can effectively track the occurrence of specific events, which proves essential for troubleshooting and analysis purposes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

+ There are no comments

Add yours