What Is the Difference Between Nohup and & in Linux?

If you’re delving into the world of Linux, you’ve likely encountered the terms “nohup” and “&” in your command line adventures. While both are essential for managing processes, they serve different purposes and have distinct functionalities. In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery behind these two commands, exploring their differences, use cases, and advantages.


Linux, renowned for its flexibility and robustness, offers multiple ways to manage processes. Among the plethora of tools at your disposal, “nohup” and “&” stand out as two powerful options. Understanding their nuances is crucial for efficiently managing processes in a Linux environment.

What is the Difference Between nohup and & in Linux?

Before we dive deeper into the intricacies, let’s clarify the fundamental disparity between “nohup” and “&” in Linux.


  • Functionality: “nohup,” short for “no hang up,” is a command that allows you to run a process in the background, even after logging out of your shell or terminal. It ensures that the process remains active, ignoring the hang-up (HUP) signal.
  • Use Cases: Use “nohup” when you want to start a process and detach it from the current terminal session, making it immune to disconnection.
  • Advantages: “nohup” is particularly useful for long-running tasks like data backups, software installations, or server operations.

& (Ampersand)

  • Functionality: The ampersand (&) symbol, when appended to a command, runs that command in the background. It allows you to continue using your terminal while the process executes.
  • Use Cases: Employ “&” when you need to execute a command without waiting for it to complete and want to regain control of your terminal immediately.
  • Advantages: “&” is handy for running quick, short-lived tasks, like launching applications or scripts.

The Detailed Breakdown

Let’s delve further into the intricacies of “nohup” and “&” in Linux. Each of these commands has its strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for specific scenarios.

When to Use nohup

Running Scripts: When executing lengthy scripts or programs that require substantial time to finish, “nohup” ensures they keep running even if you log out.

Server Maintenance: Use “nohup” when performing server maintenance tasks, such as software updates or data migrations, to prevent interruptions.

Remote SSH Sessions: “nohup” proves invaluable in remote SSH sessions, allowing you to initiate tasks and disconnect while they continue in the background.

When to Use & (Ampersand)

  • Quick Commands: For quick, one-time tasks that don’t demand continuous monitoring, “&” allows you to run commands efficiently without tying up your terminal.
  • Parallel Execution: When you want to execute multiple commands concurrently, “&” is the go-to choice, as it enables parallel processing.
  • Background Jobs: Use “&” when managing background jobs, such as running multiple instances of a program simultaneously.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use both “nohup” and “&” together?

Yes, you can combine both commands to run a process in the background and ensure it persists even after logout.

Which command is better for running scheduled tasks?

“nohup” is better suited for scheduled tasks, as it guarantees uninterrupted execution.

Are there any limitations to using “&” for background processes?

“&” is suitable for short-lived tasks but may not be ideal for processes requiring prolonged execution.

How do I check the status of background processes initiated with “nohup”?

You can use the “ps” command to check the status of background processes, even those started with “nohup.”

Can I redirect the output of “nohup” and “&” to a file?

Yes, both commands allow you to redirect output to a file using the “>” symbol.

Are there any security considerations when using “nohup” or “&”?

It’s essential to be cautious when running background processes, especially in multi-user environments, to prevent unauthorized access.

What is the difference between nohup and & in Linux?

Nohup allows a process to continue running even after you log out, while ‘&’ runs a process in the background but it may be terminated when you log out.

What is the difference between a process run with ‘&’ and one run with nohup?

A process run with ‘&’ runs in the background but may be terminated when you log out, whereas a process run with nohup continues running even after you log out.


In the realm of Linux process management, “nohup” and “&” play pivotal roles. While “nohup” ensures the persistence of processes against disconnection, “&” empowers you to multitask efficiently. By understanding their differences and knowing when to deploy each, you can harness the full potential of Linux for your tasks.

Now that you’re well-versed in the distinctions between “nohup” and “&” in Linux, go ahead and streamline your workflow with confidence. Whether it’s running resource-intensive jobs or juggling multiple tasks, you have the right tools at your disposal.

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