5 Interesting Things to do with Bash Scripts

5 Interesting Things to do with Bash Scripts


Bash scripting is an essential skill for any data professional. It allows you to automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and manage system operations efficiently. While many data scientists use bash scripts for basic operations like file manipulation and task automation, there are many more creative and unconventional ways to leverage this powerful tool.

Let’s take a look at some more interesting less basic opportunities for using bash scripts. By venturing beyond more simple use cases, you can learn what the possibilities are with the scriptig language, all while enhancing your data science toolkit.

1. Automate Data Backup and Archiving

As a data scientist, your work often involves handling large volumes of valuable data. The undertaking of regular data backups is an important step in preventing data loss due to system failures, accidental deletions, or other unforeseen events. Automating the backup process with bash scripts can help ensure that your data is consistently and reliably archived, all with little to no manual intervention.

Here’s a simple bash script that compresses and archives the files in a specified directory. This script can be scheduled to run at regular intervals using a cron job, eliminating the possibility that you forget to do so yourself, making the entire attempt at safeguarding your data futile.


# Define variables
TIMESTAMP=$(date +"%Y%m%d%H%M%S")

# Create a compressed archive of the source directory

# Output a message indicating the backup is complete
echo "Backup of $SOURCE_DIR completed. Archive stored as $BACKUP_DIR/$ARCHIVE_NAME"

2. Monitor System Performance in Real-Time

For data-heavy tasks, monitoring system performance is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. It helps identify bottlenecks, optimize resource usage, and ensure smooth execution of data processing tasks. Bash scripts can help by serving as lightweight tools for real-time system performance monitoring.

Here’s an example of a Bash script that uses top, vmstat, and iostat commands to monitor system performance.


# Monitor CPU and memory usage
echo "Monitoring CPU and memory usage..."
top -b -n1 | head -n 10

# Monitor virtual memory statistics
echo "Monitoring virtual memory statistics..."
vmstat 1 5

# Monitor I/O statistics
echo "Monitoring I/O statistics..."
iostat -xz 1 5

This script provides a quick snapshot of your system’s performance, helping you identify issues and optimize your setup.

3. Scrape Web Data Efficiently

Web scraping is a technique used to extract data from websites. It has a number of applications in data science, including data collection for analysis, monitoring competitors, and gathering research data. Bash scripts, combined with tools like `curl` and `grep`, offer a straightforward and efficient way to perform web scraping.

What follows is a simple bash script that uses curl to fetch a webpage and grep to extract specific information.


# URL of the webpage to scrape

# Fetch the webpage content
WEBPAGE=$(curl -s $URL)

# Extract the desired information (e.g., all links)
echo "Extracting links from $URL..."
echo "$WEBPAGE" | grep -oP '(?<=href=")[^"]*'

# Output a message indicating the scraping is complete
echo "Web scraping completed."

Using Bash for web scraping is quick and efficient, especially for small-scale data extraction tasks.

4. Set Up a Personal Notification System

You don't need to be told that in a busy workflow, notifications can help you stay on top of various tasks. These tasks can vary from long-running processes, system alerts, or important updates. Bash scripts can be used to send notifications via email or desktop alerts, ensuring you are always informed.

Here’s a bash script that sends an email notification when a long-running task completes.


# Define variables
SUBJECT="Task Completion Notification"
MESSAGE="The long-running task has completed successfully."

# Simulate a long-running task
echo "Starting long-running task..."
sleep 60  # Replace with actual task command
echo "Task completed."

# Send email notification
echo $MESSAGE | mail -s $SUBJECT $EMAIL

# Output a message indicating the notification is sent
echo "Notification sent to $EMAIL."

This script improves workflow efficiency by providing timely updates on task completion. Note that mail must be configured on your system for this to work.

5. Automate Data Processing Pipelines

Data processing pipelines are invaluable infrastructure for transforming raw data into actionable insights. Automating these pipelines can help ensure consistency and efficiency in your data workflows. Bash scripts can be used to create and manage these pipelines, handling tasks such as data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL).

Here’s a simple bash script that automates a data processing pipeline by extracting data from a source, transforming it using a Python script, and loading the transformed data into a target directory.


# Define variables

# Extract data (simulated here as copying the source file)
echo "Extracting data..."
cp $SOURCE_FILE $TARGET_DIR/source_data.csv

# Transform data using the Python script
echo "Transforming data..."

# Load data (in this case, just moving the transformed file to the target directory)
echo "Loading data..."

# Output a message indicating the pipeline is complete
echo "Data processing pipeline completed. Transformed data is stored at $TARGET_FILE"

This script demonstrates how bash can be used to automate a data processing pipeline, and how it can be used to integrate the power of Python and its position as the language of data science and data processing. By incorporating such automation, you can focus more on analyzing data rather than managing the process.


Bash scripting is a versatile tool with applications far beyond the traditional one-line uses of moving files, listing directory contents, and navigating the filesystem. In this article, we explored five more interesting ways to use bash scripts: automating data backups, monitoring system performance, scraping web data, setting up notification systems, and automating data processing pipelines. These examples highlight the versatility and power of bash scripting for data scientists.

Don't stop scripting, and never settle for the tired out way of doing things.

Happy bashing!

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