rsync - faster, flexible replacement for rcp
rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... DEST
rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... [USER@]HOST:DEST
rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... [USER@]HOST::DEST
rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/DEST
rsync [OPTION]... SRC
rsync [OPTION]... [USER@]HOST:SRC [DEST]
rsync [OPTION]... [USER@]HOST::SRC [DEST]
rsync [OPTION]... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/SRC [DEST]
rsync is a program that behaves in much the same way that rcp does, but has many more options and uses the rsync remote-update protocol to
greatly speed up file transfers when the destination file is being updated.
The rsync remote-update protocol allows rsync to transfer just the differences between two sets of files across the network connection,
using an efficient checksum-search algorithm described in the technical report that accompanies this package.
Some of the additional features of rsync are:
o support for copying links, devices, owners, groups, and permissions
o exclude and exclude-from options similar to GNU tar
o a CVS exclude mode for ignoring the same files that CVS would ignore
o can use any transparent remote shell, including ssh or rsh
o does not require super-user privileges
o pipelining of file transfers to minimize latency costs
o support for anonymous or authenticated rsync daemons (ideal for mirroring)
Rsync copies files either to or from a remote host, or locally on the current host (it does not support copying files between two remote
There are two different ways for rsync to contact a remote system: using a remote-shell program as the transport (such as ssh or rsh) or
contacting an rsync daemon directly via TCP. The remote-shell transport is used whenever the source or destination path contains a single
colon (:) separator after a host specification. Contacting an rsync daemon directly happens when the source or destination path contains a
double colon (::) separator after a host specification, OR when an rsync:// URL is specified (see also the "USING RSYNC-DAEMON FEATURES VIA
A REMOTE-SHELL CONNECTION" section for an exception to this latter rule).
As a special case, if a single source arg is specified without a destination, the files are listed in an output format similar to "ls -l".
As expected, if neither the source or destination path specify a remote host, the copy occurs locally (see also the --list-only option).
See the file README for installation instructions.
Once installed, you can use rsync to any machine that you can access via a remote shell (as well as some that you can access using the
rsync daemon-mode protocol). For remote transfers, a modern rsync uses ssh for its communications, but it may have been configured to use
a different remote shell by default, such as rsh or remsh.
You can also specify any remote shell you like, either by using the -e command line option, or by setting the RSYNC_RSH environment vari-
Note that rsync must be installed on both the source and destination machines.
You use rsync in the same way you use rcp. You must specify a source and a destination, one of which may be remote.
Perhaps the best way to explain the syntax is with some examples:
rsync -t *.c foo:src/
This would transfer all files matching the pattern *.c from the current directory to the directory src on the machine foo. If any of the
files already exist on the remote system then the rsync remote-update protocol is used to update the file by sending only the differences.
See the tech report for details.
rsync -avz foo:src/bar /data/tmp
This would recursively transfer all files from the directory src/bar on the machine foo into the /data/tmp/bar directory on the local
machine. The files are transferred in "archive" mode, which ensures that symbolic links, devices, attributes, permissions, ownerships, etc.
are preserved in the transfer. Additionally, compression will be used to reduce the size of data portions of the transfer.
rsync -avz foo:src/bar/ /data/tmp
A trailing slash on the source changes this behavior to avoid creating an additional directory level at the destination. You can think of
a trailing / on a source as meaning "copy the contents of this directory" as opposed to "copy the directory by name", but in both cases the
attributes of the containing directory are transferred to the containing directory on the destination. In other words, each of the follow-
ing commands copies the files in the same way, including their setting of the attributes of /dest/foo:
rsync -av /src/foo /dest
rsync -av /src/foo/ /dest/foo
Note also that host and module references don't require a trailing slash to copy the contents of the default directory. For example, both
of these copy the remote directory's contents into "/dest":
rsync -av host: /dest
rsync -av host::module /dest
You can also use rsync in local-only mode, where both the source and destination don't have a ':' in the name. In this case it behaves like
an improved copy command.
Finally, you can list all the (listable) modules available from a particular rsync daemon by leaving off the module name:
See the following section for more details.
The syntax for requesting multiple files from a remote host involves using quoted spaces in the SRC. Some examples:
rsync host::'modname/dir1/file1 modname/dir2/file2' /dest
This would copy file1 and file2 into /dest from an rsync daemon. Each additional arg must include the same "modname/" prefix as the first
one, and must be preceded by a single space. All other spaces are assumed to be a part of the filenames.
rsync -av host:'dir1/file1 dir2/file2' /dest
This would copy file1 and file2 into /dest using a remote shell. This word-splitting is done by the remote shell, so if it doesn't work it
means that the remote shell isn't configured to split its args based on whitespace (a very rare setting, but not unknown). If you need to
transfer a filename that contains whitespace, you'll need to either escape the whitespace in a way that the remote shell will understand,
or use wildcards in place of the spaces. Two examples of this are:
rsync -av host:'file\ name\ with\ spaces' /dest
rsync -av host:file?name?with?spaces /dest
This latter example assumes that your shell passes through unmatched wildcards. If it complains about "no match", put the name in quotes.
CONNECTING TO AN RSYNC DAEMON
It is also possible to use rsync without a remote shell as the transport. In this case you will directly connect to a remote rsync daemon,
typically using TCP port 873. (This obviously requires the daemon to be running on the remote system, so refer to the STARTING AN RSYNC
DAEMON TO ACCEPT CONNECTIONS section below for information on that.)
Using rsync in this way is the same as using it with a remote shell except that:
o you either use a double colon :: instead of a single colon to separate the hostname from the path, or you use an rsync:// URL.
o the first word of the "path" is actually a module name.
o the remote daemon may print a message of the day when you connect.
o if you specify no path name on the remote daemon then the list of accessible paths on the daemon will be shown.
o if you specify no local destination then a listing of the specified files on the remote daemon is provided.
o you must not specify the --rsh (-e) option.
An example that copies all the files in a remote module named "src":
rsync -av host::src /dest
Some modules on the remote daemon may require authentication. If so, you will receive a password prompt when you connect. You can avoid the
password prompt by setting the environment variable RSYNC_PASSWORD to the password you want to use or using the --password-file option.
This may be useful when scripting rsync.
WARNING: On some systems environment variables are visible to all users. On those systems using --password-file is recommended.
You may establish the connection via a web proxy by setting the environment variable RSYNC_PROXY to a hostname:port pair pointing to your
web proxy. Note that your web proxy's configuration must support proxy connections to port 873.
USING RSYNC-DAEMON FEATURES VIA A REMOTE-SHELL CONNECTION
It is sometimes useful to use various features of an rsync daemon (such as named modules) without actually allowing any new socket connec-
tions into a system (other than what is already required to allow remote-shell access). Rsync supports connecting to a host using a remote
shell and then spawning a single-use "daemon" server that expects to read its config file in the home dir of the remote user. This can be
useful if you want to encrypt a daemon-style transfer's data, but since the daemon is started up fresh by the remote user, you may not be
able to use features such as chroot or change the uid used by the daemon. (For another way to encrypt a daemon transfer, consider using
ssh to tunnel a local port to a remote machine and configure a normal rsync daemon on that remote host to only allow connections from
From the user's perspective, a daemon transfer via a remote-shell connection uses nearly the same command-line syntax as a normal rsync-
daemon transfer, with the only exception being that you must explicitly set the remote shell program on the command-line with the
--rsh=COMMAND option. (Setting the RSYNC_RSH in the environment will not turn on this functionality.) For example:
rsync -av --rsh=ssh host::module /dest
If you need to specify a different remote-shell user, keep in mind that the user@ prefix in front of the host is specifying the rsync-user
value (for a module that requires user-based authentication). This means that you must give the '-l user' option to ssh when specifying
the remote-shell, as in this example that uses the short version of the --rsh option:
rsync -av -e "ssh -l ssh-user" rsync-user@host::module /dest
The "ssh-user" will be used at the ssh level; the "rsync-user" will be used to log-in to the "module".
STARTING AN RSYNC DAEMON TO ACCEPT CONNECTIONS
In order to connect to an rsync daemon, the remote system needs to have a daemon already running (or it needs to have configured something
like inetd to spawn an rsync daemon for incoming connections on a particular port). For full information on how to start a daemon that
will handling incoming socket connections, see the rsyncd.conf(5) man page -- that is the config file for the daemon, and it contains the
full details for how to run the daemon (including stand-alone and inetd configurations).
If you're using one of the remote-shell transports for the transfer, there is no need to manually start an rsync daemon.
Here are some examples of how I use rsync.
To backup my wife's home directory, which consists of large MS Word files and mail folders, I use a cron job that runs
rsync -Cavz . arvidsjaur:backup
each night over a PPP connection to a duplicate directory on my machine "arvidsjaur".
To synchronize my samba source trees I use the following Makefile targets:
rsync -avuzb --exclude '*~' samba:samba/ .
rsync -Cavuzb . samba:samba/
sync: get put
this allows me to sync with a CVS directory at the other end of the connection. I then do CVS operations on the remote machine, which saves
a lot of time as the remote CVS protocol isn't very efficient.
I mirror a directory between my "old" and "new" ftp sites with the command:
rsync -az -e ssh --delete ~ftp/pub/samba nimbus:"~ftp/pub/tridge"
This is launched from cron every few hours.
Here is a short summary of the options available in rsync. Please refer to the detailed description below for a complete description.
-v, --verbose increase verbosity
-q, --quiet suppress non-error messages
--no-motd suppress daemon-mode MOTD (see caveat)
-c, --checksum skip based on checksum, not mod-time & size
-a, --archive archive mode; same as -rlptgoD (no -H)
--no-OPTION turn off an implied OPTION (e.g. --no-D)
-r, --recursive recurse into directories
-R, --relative use relative path names
--no-implied-dirs don't send implied dirs with --relative
-b, --backup make backups (see --suffix & --backup-dir)
--backup-dir=DIR make backups into hierarchy based in DIR
--suffix=SUFFIX backup suffix (default ~ w/o --backup-dir)
-u, --update skip files that are newer on the receiver
--inplace update destination files in-place
--append append data onto shorter files
-d, --dirs transfer directories without recursing
-l, --links copy symlinks as symlinks
-L, --copy-links transform symlink into referent file/dir
--copy-unsafe-links only "unsafe" symlinks are transformed
--safe-links ignore symlinks that point outside the tree
-k, --copy-dirlinks transform symlink to dir into referent dir
-K, --keep-dirlinks treat symlinked dir on receiver as dir
-H, --hard-links preserve hard links
-p, --perms preserve permissions
-E, --executability preserve executability
--chmod=CHMOD affect file and/or directory permissions
-o, --owner preserve owner (super-user only)
-g, --group preserve group
--devices preserve device files (super-user only)
--specials preserve special files
-D same as --devices --specials
-t, --times preserve times
-O, --omit-dir-times omit directories when preserving times
--super receiver attempts super-user activities
-S, --sparse handle sparse files efficiently
-n, --dry-run show what would have been transferred
-W, --whole-file copy files whole (without rsync algorithm)
-x, --one-file-system don't cross filesystem boundaries
-B, --block-size=SIZE force a fixed checksum block-size
-e, --rsh=COMMAND specify the remote shell to use
--rsync-path=PROGRAM specify the rsync to run on remote machine
--existing skip creating new files on receiver
--ignore-existing skip updating files that exist on receiver
--remove-source-files sender removes synchronized files (non-dir)
--del an alias for --delete-during
--delete delete extraneous files from dest dirs
--delete-before receiver deletes before transfer (default)
--delete-during receiver deletes during xfer, not before
--delete-after receiver deletes after transfer, not before
--delete-excluded also delete excluded files from dest dirs
--ignore-errors delete even if there are I/O errors
--force force deletion of dirs even if not empty
--max-delete=NUM don't delete more than NUM files
--max-size=SIZE don't transfer any file larger than SIZE
--min-size=SIZE don't transfer any file smaller than SIZE
--partial keep partially transferred files
--partial-dir=DIR put a partially transferred file into DIR
--delay-updates put all updated files into place at end
-m, --prune-empty-dirs prune empty directory chains from file-list
--numeric-ids don't map uid/gid values by user/group name
--timeout=TIME set I/O timeout in seconds
-I, --ignore-times don't skip files that match size and time
--size-only skip files that match in size
--modify-window=NUM compare mod-times with reduced accuracy
-T, --temp-dir=DIR create temporary files in directory DIR
-y, --fuzzy find similar file for basis if no dest file
--compare-dest=DIR also compare received files relative to DIR
--copy-dest=DIR ... and include copies of unchanged files
--link-dest=DIR hardlink to files in DIR when unchanged
-z, --compress compress file data during the transfer
--compress-level=NUM explicitly set compression level
-C, --cvs-exclude auto-ignore files in the same way CVS does
-f, --filter=RULE add a file-filtering RULE
-F same as --filter='dir-merge /.rsync-filter'
repeated: --filter='- .rsync-filter'
--exclude=PATTERN exclude files matching PATTERN
--exclude-from=FILE read exclude patterns from FILE
--include=PATTERN don't exclude files matching PATTERN
--include-from=FILE read include patterns from FILE
--files-from=FILE read list of source-file names from FILE
-0, --from0 all *from/filter files are delimited by 0s
--address=ADDRESS bind address for outgoing socket to daemon
--port=PORT specify double-colon alternate port number
--sockopts=OPTIONS specify custom TCP options
--blocking-io use blocking I/O for the remote shell
--stats give some file-transfer stats
-8, --8-bit-output leave high-bit chars unescaped in output
-h, --human-readable output numbers in a human-readable format
--progress show progress during transfer
-P same as --partial --progress
-i, --itemize-changes output a change-summary for all updates
--out-format=FORMAT output updates using the specified FORMAT
--log-file=FILE log what we're doing to the specified FILE
--log-file-format=FMT log updates using the specified FMT
--password-file=FILE read password from FILE
--list-only list the files instead of copying them
--bwlimit=KBPS limit I/O bandwidth; KBytes per second
--write-batch=FILE write a batched update to FILE
--only-write-batch=FILE like --write-batch but w/o updating dest
--read-batch=FILE read a batched update from FILE
--protocol=NUM force an older protocol version to be used
--checksum-seed=NUM set block/file checksum seed (advanced)
-4, --ipv4 prefer IPv4
-6, --ipv6 prefer IPv6
--version print version number
(-h) --help show this help (see below for -h comment)
Rsync can also be run as a daemon, in which case the following options are accepted:
--daemon run as an rsync daemon
--address=ADDRESS bind to the specified address
--bwlimit=KBPS limit I/O bandwidth; KBytes per second
--config=FILE specify alternate rsyncd.conf file
--no-detach do not detach from the parent
--port=PORT listen on alternate port number
--log-file=FILE override the "log file" setting
--log-file-format=FMT override the "log format" setting
--sockopts=OPTIONS specify custom TCP options
-v, --verbose increase verbosity
-4, --ipv4 prefer IPv4
-6, --ipv6 prefer IPv6
-h, --help show this help (if used after --daemon)
rsync uses the GNU long options package. Many of the command line options have two variants, one short and one long. These are shown
below, separated by commas. Some options only have a long variant. The '=' for options that take a parameter is optional; whitespace can
be used instead.
--help Print a short help page describing the options available in rsync and exit. For backward-compatibility with older versions of
rsync, the help will also be output if you use the -h option without any other args.
print the rsync version number and exit.
This option increases the amount of information you are given during the transfer. By default, rsync works silently. A single -v
will give you information about what files are being transferred and a brief summary at the end. Two -v flags will give you informa-
tion on what files are being skipped and slightly more information at the end. More than two -v flags should only be used if you are
Note that the names of the transferred files that are output are done using a default --out-format of "%n%L", which tells you just
the name of the file and, if the item is a link, where it points. At the single -v level of verbosity, this does not mention when a
file gets its attributes changed. If you ask for an itemized list of changed attributes (either --itemize-changes or adding "%i" to
the --out-format setting), the output (on the client) increases to mention all items that are changed in any way. See the
--out-format option for more details.
This option decreases the amount of information you are given during the transfer, notably suppressing information messages from the
remote server. This flag is useful when invoking rsync from cron.
This option affects the information that is output by the client at the start of a daemon transfer. This suppresses the message-of-
the-day (MOTD) text, but it also affects the list of modules that the daemon sends in response to the "rsync host::" request (due to
a limitation in the rsync protocol), so omit this option if you want to request the list of modules from the deamon.
Normally rsync will skip any files that are already the same size and have the same modification time-stamp. This option turns off
this "quick check" behavior, causing all files to be updated.
Normally rsync will not transfer any files that are already the same size and have the same modification time-stamp. With the
--size-only option, files will not be transferred if they have the same size, regardless of timestamp. This is useful when starting
to use rsync after using another mirroring system which may not preserve timestamps exactly.
When comparing two timestamps, rsync treats the timestamps as being equal if they differ by no more than the modify-window value.
This is normally 0 (for an exact match), but you may find it useful to set this to a larger value in some situations. In particu-
lar, when transferring to or from an MS Windows FAT filesystem (which represents times with a 2-second resolution), --modify-win-
dow=1 is useful (allowing times to differ by up to 1 second).
This forces the sender to checksum every regular file using a 128-bit MD4 checksum. It does this during the initial file-system
scan as it builds the list of all available files. The receiver then checksums its version of each file (if it exists and it has the
same size as its sender-side counterpart) in order to decide which files need to be updated: files with either a changed size or a
changed checksum are selected for transfer. Since this whole-file checksumming of all files on both sides of the connection occurs
in addition to the automatic checksum verifications that occur during a file's transfer, this option can be quite slow.
Note that rsync always verifies that each transferred file was correctly reconstructed on the receiving side by checking its whole-
file checksum, but that automatic after-the-transfer verification has nothing to do with this option's before-the-transfer "Does
this file need to be updated?" check.
This is equivalent to -rlptgoD. It is a quick way of saying you want recursion and want to preserve almost everything (with -H being
a notable omission). The only exception to the above equivalence is when --files-from is specified, in which case -r is not
Note that -a does not preserve hardlinks, because finding multiply-linked files is expensive. You must separately specify -H.
You may turn off one or more implied options by prefixing the option name with "no-". Not all options may be prefixed with a "no-":
only options that are implied by other options (e.g. --no-D, --no-perms) or have different defaults in various circumstances (e.g.
--no-whole-file, --no-blocking-io, --no-dirs). You may specify either the short or the long option name after the "no-" prefix
(e.g. --no-R is the same as --no-relative).
For example: if you want to use -a (--archive) but don't want -o (--owner), instead of converting -a into -rlptgD, you could specify
-a --no-o (or -a --no-owner).
The order of the options is important: if you specify --no-r -a, the -r option would end up being turned on, the opposite of -a
--no-r. Note also that the side-effects of the --files-from option are NOT positional, as it affects the default state of several
options and slightly changes the meaning of -a (see the --files-from option for more details).
This tells rsync to copy directories recursively. See also --dirs (-d).
Use relative paths. This means that the full path names specified on the command line are sent to the server rather than just the
last parts of the filenames. This is particularly useful when you want to send several different directories at the same time. For
example, if you used this command:
rsync -av /foo/bar/baz.c remote:/tmp/
... this would create a file named baz.c in /tmp/ on the remote machine. If instead you used
rsync -avR /foo/bar/baz.c remote:/tmp/
then a file named /tmp/foo/bar/baz.c would be created on the remote machine -- the full path name is preserved. To limit the amount
of path information that is sent, you have a couple options: (1) With a modern rsync on the sending side (beginning with 2.6.7),
you can insert a dot and a slash into the source path, like this:
rsync -avR /foo/./bar/baz.c remote:/tmp/
That would create /tmp/bar/baz.c on the remote machine. (Note that the dot must be followed by a slash, so "/foo/." would not be
abbreviated.) (2) For older rsync versions, you would need to use a chdir to limit the source path. For example, when pushing
(cd /foo; rsync -avR bar/baz.c remote:/tmp/)
(Note that the parens put the two commands into a sub-shell, so that the "cd" command doesn't remain in effect for future commands.)
If you're pulling files, use this idiom (which doesn't work with an rsync daemon):
rsync -avR --rsync-path="cd /foo; rsync" \
This option affects the default behavior of the --relative option. When it is specified, the attributes of the implied directories
from the source names are not included in the transfer. This means that the corresponding path elements on the destination system
are left unchanged if they exist, and any missing implied directories are created with default attributes. This even allows these
implied path elements to have big differences, such as being a symlink to a directory on one side of the transfer, and a real direc-
tory on the other side.
For instance, if a command-line arg or a files-from entry told rsync to transfer the file "path/foo/file", the directories "path"
and "path/foo" are implied when --relative is used. If "path/foo" is a symlink to "bar" on the destination system, the receiving
rsync would ordinarily delete "path/foo", recreate it as a directory, and receive the file into the new directory. With
--no-implied-dirs, the receiving rsync updates "path/foo/file" using the existing path elements, which means that the file ends up
being created in "path/bar". Another way to accomplish this link preservation is to use the --keep-dirlinks option (which will also
affect symlinks to directories in the rest of the transfer).
In a similar but opposite scenario, if the transfer of "path/foo/file" is requested and "path/foo" is a symlink on the sending side,
running without --no-implied-dirs would cause rsync to transform "path/foo" on the receiving side into an identical symlink, and
then attempt to transfer "path/foo/file", which might fail if the duplicated symlink did not point to a directory on the receiving
side. Another way to avoid this sending of a symlink as an implied directory is to use --copy-unsafe-links, or --copy-dirlinks
(both of which also affect symlinks in the rest of the transfer -- see their descriptions for full details).
With this option, preexisting destination files are renamed as each file is transferred or deleted. You can control where the
backup file goes and what (if any) suffix gets appended using the --backup-dir and --suffix options.
Note that if you don't specify --backup-dir, (1) the --omit-dir-times option will be implied, and (2) if --delete is also in effect
(without --delete-excluded), rsync will add a "protect" filter-rule for the backup suffix to the end of all your existing excludes
(e.g. -f "P *~"). This will prevent previously backed-up files from being deleted. Note that if you are supplying your own filter
rules, you may need to manually insert your own exclude/protect rule somewhere higher up in the list so that it has a high enough
priority to be effective (e.g., if your rules specify a trailing inclusion/exclusion of '*', the auto-added rule would never be
In combination with the --backup option, this tells rsync to store all backups in the specified directory on the receiving side.
This can be used for incremental backups. You can additionally specify a backup suffix using the --suffix option (otherwise the
files backed up in the specified directory will keep their original filenames).
This option allows you to override the default backup suffix used with the --backup (-b) option. The default suffix is a ~ if no
--backup-dir was specified, otherwise it is an empty string.
This forces rsync to skip any files which exist on the destination and have a modified time that is newer than the source file. (If
an existing destination file has a modify time equal to the source file's, it will be updated if the sizes are different.)
In the current implementation of --update, a difference of file format between the sender and receiver is always considered to be
important enough for an update, no matter what date is on the objects. In other words, if the source has a directory or a symlink
where the destination has a file, the transfer would occur regardless of the timestamps. This might change in the future (feel free
to comment on this on the mailing list if you have an opinion).
This causes rsync not to create a new copy of the file and then move it into place. Instead rsync will overwrite the existing file,
meaning that the rsync algorithm can't accomplish the full amount of network reduction it might be able to otherwise (since it does
not yet try to sort data matches). One exception to this is if you combine the option with --backup, since rsync is smart enough to
use the backup file as the basis file for the transfer.
This option is useful for transfer of large files with block-based changes or appended data, and also on systems that are disk
bound, not network bound.
The option implies --partial (since an interrupted transfer does not delete the file), but conflicts with --partial-dir and
--delay-updates. Prior to rsync 2.6.4 --inplace was also incompatible with --compare-dest and --link-dest.
WARNING: The file's data will be in an inconsistent state during the transfer (and possibly afterward if the transfer gets inter-
rupted), so you should not use this option to update files that are in use. Also note that rsync will be unable to update a file
in-place that is not writable by the receiving user.
This causes rsync to update a file by appending data onto the end of the file, which presumes that the data that already exists on
the receiving side is identical with the start of the file on the sending side. If that is not true, the file will fail the check-
sum test, and the resend will do a normal --inplace update to correct the mismatched data. Only files on the receiving side that
are shorter than the corresponding file on the sending side (as well as new files) are sent. Implies --inplace, but does not con-
flict with --sparse (though the --sparse option will be auto-disabled if a resend of the already-existing data is required).
Tell the sending side to include any directories that are encountered. Unlike --recursive, a directory's contents are not copied
unless the directory name specified is "." or ends with a trailing slash (e.g. ".", "dir/.", "dir/", etc.). Without this option or
the --recursive option, rsync will skip all directories it encounters (and output a message to that effect for each one). If you
specify both --dirs and --recursive, --recursive takes precedence.
When symlinks are encountered, recreate the symlink on the destination.
When symlinks are encountered, the item that they point to (the referent) is copied, rather than the symlink. In older versions of
rsync, this option also had the side-effect of telling the receiving side to follow symlinks, such as symlinks to directories. In a
modern rsync such as this one, you'll need to specify --keep-dirlinks (-K) to get this extra behavior. The only exception is when
sending files to an rsync that is too old to understand -K -- in that case, the -L option will still have the side-effect of -K on
that older receiving rsync.
This tells rsync to copy the referent of symbolic links that point outside the copied tree. Absolute symlinks are also treated like
ordinary files, and so are any symlinks in the source path itself when --relative is used. This option has no additional effect if
--copy-links was also specified.
This tells rsync to ignore any symbolic links which point outside the copied tree. All absolute symlinks are also ignored. Using
this option in conjunction with --relative may give unexpected results.
This option causes the sending side to treat a symlink to a directory as though it were a real directory. This is useful if you
don't want symlinks to non-directories to be affected, as they would be using --copy-links.
Without this option, if the sending side has replaced a directory with a symlink to a directory, the receiving side will delete any-
thing that is in the way of the new symlink, including a directory hierarchy (as long as --force or --delete is in effect).
See also --keep-dirlinks for an analogous option for the receiving side.
This option causes the receiving side to treat a symlink to a directory as though it were a real directory, but only if it matches a
real directory from the sender. Without this option, the receiver's symlink would be deleted and replaced with a real directory.
For example, suppose you transfer a directory "foo" that contains a file "file", but "foo" is a symlink to directory "bar" on the
receiver. Without --keep-dirlinks, the receiver deletes symlink "foo", recreates it as a directory, and receives the file into the
new directory. With --keep-dirlinks, the receiver keeps the symlink and "file" ends up in "bar".
See also --copy-dirlinks for an analogous option for the sending side.
This tells rsync to look for hard-linked files in the transfer and link together the corresponding files on the receiving side.
Without this option, hard-linked files in the transfer are treated as though they were separate files.
Note that rsync can only detect hard links if both parts of the link are in the list of files being sent.
This option causes the receiving rsync to set the destination permissions to be the same as the source permissions. (See also the
--chmod option for a way to modify what rsync considers to be the source permissions.)
When this option is off, permissions are set as follows:
o Existing files (including updated files) retain their existing permissions, though the --executability option might change
just the execute permission for the file.
o New files get their "normal" permission bits set to the source file's permissions masked with the receiving end's umask set-
ting, and their special permission bits disabled except in the case where a new directory inherits a setgid bit from its par-
Thus, when --perms and --executability are both disabled, rsync's behavior is the same as that of other file-copy utilities, such as
cp(1) and tar(1).
In summary: to give destination files (both old and new) the source permissions, use --perms. To give new files the destination-
default permissions (while leaving existing files unchanged), make sure that the --perms option is off and use --chmod=ugo=rwX
(which ensures that all non-masked bits get enabled). If you'd care to make this latter behavior easier to type, you could define a
popt alias for it, such as putting this line in the file ~/.popt (this defines the -s option, and includes --no-g to use the default
group of the destination dir):
rsync alias -s --no-p --no-g --chmod=ugo=rwX
You could then use this new option in a command such as this one:
rsync -asv src/ dest/
(Caveat: make sure that -a does not follow -s, or it will re-enable the "--no-*" options.)
The preservation of the destination's setgid bit on newly-created directories when --perms is off was added in rsync 2.6.7. Older
rsync versions erroneously preserved the three special permission bits for newly-created files when --perms was off, while overrid-
ing the destination's setgid bit setting on a newly-created directory. (Keep in mind that it is the version of the receiving rsync
that affects this behavior.)
This option causes rsync to preserve the executability (or non-executability) of regular files when --perms is not enabled. A regu-
lar file is considered to be executable if at least one 'x' is turned on in its permissions. When an existing destination file's
executability differs from that of the corresponding source file, rsync modifies the destination file's permissions as follows:
o To make a file non-executable, rsync turns off all its 'x' permissions.
o To make a file executable, rsync turns on each 'x' permission that has a corresponding 'r' permission enabled.
If --perms is enabled, this option is ignored.
This option tells rsync to apply one or more comma-separated "chmod" strings to the permission of the files in the transfer. The
resulting value is treated as though it was the permissions that the sending side supplied for the file, which means that this
option can seem to have no effect on existing files if --perms is not enabled.
In addition to the normal parsing rules specified in the chmod(1) manpage, you can specify an item that should only apply to a
directory by prefixing it with a 'D', or specify an item that should only apply to a file by prefixing it with a 'F'. For example:
It is also legal to specify multiple --chmod options, as each additional option is just appended to the list of changes to make.
See the --perms and --executability options for how the resulting permission value can be applied to the files in the transfer.
This option causes rsync to set the owner of the destination file to be the same as the source file, but only if the receiving rsync
is being run as the super-user (see also the --super option to force rsync to attempt super-user activities). Without this option,
the owner is set to the invoking user on the receiving side.
The preservation of ownership will associate matching names by default, but may fall back to using the ID number in some circum-
stances (see also the --numeric-ids option for a full discussion).
This option causes rsync to set the group of the destination file to be the same as the source file. If the receiving program is
not running as the super-user (or if --no-super was specified), only groups that the invoking user on the receiving side is a member
of will be preserved. Without this option, the group is set to the default group of the invoking user on the receiving side.
The preservation of group information will associate matching names by default, but may fall back to using the ID number in some
circumstances (see also the --numeric-ids option for a full discussion).
This option causes rsync to transfer character and block device files to the remote system to recreate these devices. This option
has no effect if the receiving rsync is not run as the super-user and --super is not specified.
This option causes rsync to transfer special files such as named sockets and fifos.
-D The -D option is equivalent to --devices --specials.
This tells rsync to transfer modification times along with the files and update them on the remote system. Note that if this option
is not used, the optimization that excludes files that have not been modified cannot be effective; in other words, a missing -t or
-a will cause the next transfer to behave as if it used -I, causing all files to be updated (though the rsync algorithm will make
the update fairly efficient if the files haven't actually changed, you're much better off using -t).
This tells rsync to omit directories when it is preserving modification times (see --times). If NFS is sharing the directories on
the receiving side, it is a good idea to use -O. This option is inferred if you use --backup without --backup-dir.
This tells the receiving side to attempt super-user activities even if the receiving rsync wasn't run by the super-user. These
activities include: preserving users via the --owner option, preserving all groups (not just the current user's groups) via the
--groups option, and copying devices via the --devices option. This is useful for systems that allow such activities without being
the super-user, and also for ensuring that you will get errors if the receiving side isn't being running as the super-user. To turn
off super-user activities, the super-user can use --no-super.
Try to handle sparse files efficiently so they take up less space on the destination. Conflicts with --inplace because it's not
possible to overwrite data in a sparse fashion.
NOTE: This option has no effect if the destination is a Solaris "tmpfs" filesystem. The files won't be sparse.
This tells rsync to not do any file transfers, instead it will just report the actions it would have taken.
With this option the incremental rsync algorithm is not used and the whole file is sent as-is instead. The transfer may be faster
if this option is used when the bandwidth between the source and destination machines is higher than the bandwidth to disk (espe-
cially when the "disk" is actually a networked filesystem). This is the default when both the source and destination are specified
as local paths.
This tells rsync to avoid crossing a filesystem boundary when recursing. This does not limit the user's ability to specify items to
copy from multiple filesystems, just rsync's recursion through the hierarchy of each directory that the user specified, and also the
analogous recursion on the receiving side during deletion. Also keep in mind that rsync treats a "bind" mount to the same device as
being on the same filesystem.
If this option is repeated, rsync omits all mount-point directories from the copy. Otherwise, it includes an empty directory at
each mount-point it encounters (using the attributes of the mounted directory because those of the underlying mount-point directory
If rsync has been told to collapse symlinks (via --copy-links or --copy-unsafe-links), a symlink to a directory on another device is
treated like a mount-point. Symlinks to non-directories are unaffected by this option.
This tells rsync to skip creating files (including directories) that do not exist yet on the destination. If this option is com-
bined with the --ignore-existing option, no files will be updated (which can be useful if all you want to do is to delete extraneous
This tells rsync to skip updating files that already exist on the destination (this does not ignore existing directores, or nothing
would get done). See also --existing.
This tells rsync to remove from the sending side the files (meaning non-directories) that are a part of the transfer and have been
successfully duplicated on the receiving side.
This tells rsync to delete extraneous files from the receiving side (ones that aren't on the sending side), but only for the direc-
tories that are being synchronized. You must have asked rsync to send the whole directory (e.g. "dir" or "dir/") without using a
wildcard for the directory's contents (e.g. "dir/*") since the wildcard is expanded by the shell and rsync thus gets a request to
transfer individual files, not the files' parent directory. Files that are excluded from transfer are also excluded from being
deleted unless you use the --delete-excluded option or mark the rules as only matching on the sending side (see the include/exclude
modifiers in the FILTER RULES section).
Prior to rsync 2.6.7, this option would have no effect unless --recursive was in effect. Beginning with 2.6.7, deletions will also
occur when --dirs (-d) is in effect, but only for directories whose contents are being copied.
This option can be dangerous if used incorrectly! It is a very good idea to run first using the --dry-run option (-n) to see what
files would be deleted to make sure important files aren't listed.
If the sending side detects any I/O errors, then the deletion of any files at the destination will be automatically disabled. This
is to prevent temporary filesystem failures (such as NFS errors) on the sending side causing a massive deletion of files on the des-
tination. You can override this with the --ignore-errors option.
The --delete option may be combined with one of the --delete-WHEN options without conflict, as well as --delete-excluded. However,
if none of the --delete-WHEN options are specified, rsync will currently choose the --delete-before algorithm. A future version may
change this to choose the --delete-during algorithm. See also --delete-after.
Request that the file-deletions on the receiving side be done before the transfer starts. This is the default if --delete or
--delete-excluded is specified without one of the --delete-WHEN options. See --delete (which is implied) for more details on file-
Deleting before the transfer is helpful if the filesystem is tight for space and removing extraneous files would help to make the
transfer possible. However, it does introduce a delay before the start of the transfer, and this delay might cause the transfer to
timeout (if --timeout was specified).
Request that the file-deletions on the receiving side be done incrementally as the transfer happens. This is a faster method than
choosing the before- or after-transfer algorithm, but it is only supported beginning with rsync version 2.6.4. See --delete (which
is implied) for more details on file-deletion.
Request that the file-deletions on the receiving side be done after the transfer has completed. This is useful if you are sending
new per-directory merge files as a part of the transfer and you want their exclusions to take effect for the delete phase of the
current transfer. See --delete (which is implied) for more details on file-deletion.
In addition to deleting the files on the receiving side that are not on the sending side, this tells rsync to also delete any files
on the receiving side that are excluded (see --exclude). See the FILTER RULES section for a way to make individual exclusions
behave this way on the receiver, and for a way to protect files from --delete-excluded. See --delete (which is implied) for more
details on file-deletion.
Tells --delete to go ahead and delete files even when there are I/O errors.
This option tells rsync to delete a non-empty directory when it is to be replaced by a non-directory. This is only relevant if
deletions are not active (see --delete for details).
Note for older rsync versions: --force used to still be required when using --delete-after, and it used to be non-functional unless
the --recursive option was also enabled.
This tells rsync not to delete more than NUM files or directories (NUM must be non-zero). This is useful when mirroring very large
trees to prevent disasters.
This tells rsync to avoid transferring any file that is larger than the specified SIZE. The SIZE value can be suffixed with a string
to indicate a size multiplier, and may be a fractional value (e.g. "--max-size=1.5m").
The suffixes are as follows: "K" (or "KiB") is a kibibyte (1024), "M" (or "MiB") is a mebibyte (1024*1024), and "G" (or "GiB") is a
gibibyte (1024*1024*1024). If you want the multiplier to be 1000 instead of 1024, use "KB", "MB", or "GB". (Note: lower-case is
also accepted for all values.) Finally, if the suffix ends in either "+1" or "-1", the value will be offset by one byte in the
Examples: --max-size=1.5mb-1 is 1499999 bytes, and --max-size=2g+1 is 2147483649 bytes.
This tells rsync to avoid transferring any file that is smaller than the specified SIZE, which can help in not transferring small,
junk files. See the --max-size option for a description of SIZE.
This forces the block size used in the rsync algorithm to a fixed value. It is normally selected based on the size of each file
being updated. See the technical report for details.
This option allows you to choose an alternative remote shell program to use for communication between the local and remote copies of
rsync. Typically, rsync is configured to use ssh by default, but you may prefer to use rsh on a local network.
If this option is used with [user@]host::module/path, then the remote shell COMMAND will be used to run an rsync daemon on the
remote host, and all data will be transmitted through that remote shell connection, rather than through a direct socket connection
to a running rsync daemon on the remote host. See the section "USING RSYNC-DAEMON FEATURES VIA A REMOTE-SHELL CONNECTION" above.
Command-line arguments are permitted in COMMAND provided that COMMAND is presented to rsync as a single argument. You must use spa-
ces (not tabs or other whitespace) to separate the command and args from each other, and you can use single- and/or double-quotes to
preserve spaces in an argument (but not backslashes). Note that doubling a single-quote inside a single-quoted string gives you a
single-quote; likewise for double-quotes (though you need to pay attention to which quotes your shell is parsing and which quotes
rsync is parsing). Some examples:
-e 'ssh -p 2234'
-e 'ssh -o "ProxyCommand nohup ssh firewall nc -w1 %h %p"'
(Note that ssh users can alternately customize site-specific connect options in their .ssh/config file.)
You can also choose the remote shell program using the RSYNC_RSH environment variable, which accepts the same range of values as -e.
See also the --blocking-io option which is affected by this option.
Use this to specify what program is to be run on the remote machine to start-up rsync. Often used when rsync is not in the default
remote-shell's path (e.g. --rsync-path=/usr/local/bin/rsync). Note that PROGRAM is run with the help of a shell, so it can be any
program, script, or command sequence you'd care to run, so long as it does not corrupt the standard-in & standard-out that rsync is
using to communicate.
One tricky example is to set a different default directory on the remote machine for use with the --relative option. For instance:
rsync -avR --rsync-path="cd /a/b && rsync" hst:c/d /e/
This is a useful shorthand for excluding a broad range of files that you often don't want to transfer between systems. It uses the
same algorithm that CVS uses to determine if a file should be ignored.
The exclude list is initialized to:
RCS SCCS CVS CVS.adm RCSLOG cvslog.* tags TAGS .make.state .nse_depinfo *~ #* .#* ,* _$* *$ *.old *.bak *.BAK *.orig *.rej
.del-* *.a *.olb *.o *.obj *.so *.exe *.Z *.elc *.ln core .svn/
then files listed in a $HOME/.cvsignore are added to the list and any files listed in the CVSIGNORE environment variable (all cvsig-
nore names are delimited by whitespace).
Finally, any file is ignored if it is in the same directory as a .cvsignore file and matches one of the patterns listed therein.
Unlike rsync's filter/exclude files, these patterns are split on whitespace. See the cvs(1) manual for more information.
If you're combining -C with your own --filter rules, you should note that these CVS excludes are appended at the end of your own
rules, regardless of where the -C was placed on the command-line. This makes them a lower priority than any rules you specified
explicitly. If you want to control where these CVS excludes get inserted into your filter rules, you should omit the -C as a com-
mand-line option and use a combination of --filter=:C and --filter=-C (either on your command-line or by putting the ":C" and "-C"
rules into a filter file with your other rules). The first option turns on the per-directory scanning for the .cvsignore file. The
second option does a one-time import of the CVS excludes mentioned above.
This option allows you to add rules to selectively exclude certain files from the list of files to be transferred. This is most use-
ful in combination with a recursive transfer.
You may use as many --filter options on the command line as you like to build up the list of files to exclude.
See the FILTER RULES section for detailed information on this option.
-F The -F option is a shorthand for adding two --filter rules to your command. The first time it is used is a shorthand for this rule:
This tells rsync to look for per-directory .rsync-filter files that have been sprinkled through the hierarchy and use their rules to
filter the files in the transfer. If -F is repeated, it is a shorthand for this rule:
This filters out the .rsync-filter files themselves from the transfer.
See the FILTER RULES section for detailed information on how these options work.
This option is a simplified form of the --filter option that defaults to an exclude rule and does not allow the full rule-parsing
syntax of normal filter rules.
See the FILTER RULES section for detailed information on this option.
This option is related to the --exclude option, but it specifies a FILE that contains exclude patterns (one per line). Blank lines
in the file and lines starting with ';' or '#' are ignored. If FILE is -, the list will be read from standard input.
This option is a simplified form of the --filter option that defaults to an include rule and does not allow the full rule-parsing
syntax of normal filter rules.
See the FILTER RULES section for detailed information on this option.
This option is related to the --include option, but it specifies a FILE that contains include patterns (one per line). Blank lines
in the file and lines starting with ';' or '#' are ignored. If FILE is -, the list will be read from standard input.
Using this option allows you to specify the exact list of files to transfer (as read from the specified FILE or - for standard
input). It also tweaks the default behavior of rsync to make transferring just the specified files and directories easier:
o The --relative (-R) option is implied, which preserves the path information that is specified for each item in the file (use
--no-relative or --no-R if you want to turn that off).
o The --dirs (-d) option is implied, which will create directories specified in the list on the destination rather than noisily
skipping them (use --no-dirs or --no-d if you want to turn that off).
o The --archive (-a) option's behavior does not imply --recursive (-r), so specify it explicitly, if you want it.
o These side-effects change the default state of rsync, so the position of the --files-from option on the command-line has no
bearing on how other options are parsed (e.g. -a works the same before or after --files-from, as does --no-R and all other
The file names that are read from the FILE are all relative to the source dir -- any leading slashes are removed and no ".." refer-
ences are allowed to go higher than the source dir. For example, take this command:
rsync -a --files-from=/tmp/foo /usr remote:/backup
If /tmp/foo contains the string "bin" (or even "/bin"), the /usr/bin directory will be created as /backup/bin on the remote host.
If it contains "bin/" (note the trailing slash), the immediate contents of the directory would also be sent (without needing to be
explicitly mentioned in the file -- this began in version 2.6.4). In both cases, if the -r option was enabled, that dir's entire
hierarchy would also be transferred (keep in mind that -r needs to be specified explicitly with --files-from, since it is not
implied by -a). Also note that the effect of the (enabled by default) --relative option is to duplicate only the path info that is
read from the file -- it does not force the duplication of the source-spec path (/usr in this case).
In addition, the --files-from file can be read from the remote host instead of the local host if you specify a "host:" in front of
the file (the host must match one end of the transfer). As a short-cut, you can specify just a prefix of ":" to mean "use the
remote end of the transfer". For example:
rsync -a --files-from=:/path/file-list src:/ /tmp/copy
This would copy all the files specified in the /path/file-list file that was located on the remote "src" host.
This tells rsync that the rules/filenames it reads from a file are terminated by a null ('\0') character, not a NL, CR, or CR+LF.
This affects --exclude-from, --include-from, --files-from, and any merged files specified in a --filter rule. It does not affect
--cvs-exclude (since all names read from a .cvsignore file are split on whitespace).
This option instructs rsync to use DIR as a scratch directory when creating temporary copies of the files transferred on the receiv-
ing side. The default behavior is to create each temporary file in the same directory as the associated destination file.
This option is most often used when the receiving disk partition does not have enough free space to hold a copy of the largest file
in the transfer. In this case (i.e. when the scratch directory in on a different disk partition), rsync will not be able to rename
each received temporary file over the top of the associated destination file, but instead must copy it into place. Rsync does this
by copying the file over the top of the destination file, which means that the destination file will contain truncated data during
this copy. If this were not done this way (even if the destination file were first removed, the data locally copied to a temporary
file in the destination directory, and then renamed into place) it would be possible for the old file to continue taking up disk
space (if someone had it open), and thus there might not be enough room to fit the new version on the disk at the same time.
If you are using this option for reasons other than a shortage of disk space, you may wish to combine it with the --delay-updates
option, which will ensure that all copied files get put into subdirectories in the destination hierarchy, awaiting the end of the
transfer. If you don't have enough room to duplicate all the arriving files on the destination partition, another way to tell rsync
that you aren't overly concerned about disk space is to use the --partial-dir option with a relative path; because this tells rsync
that it is OK to stash off a copy of a single file in a subdir in the destination hierarchy, rsync will use the partial-dir as a
staging area to bring over the copied file, and then rename it into place from there. (Specifying a --partial-dir with an absolute
path does not have this side-effect.)
This option tells rsync that it should look for a basis file for any destination file that is missing. The current algorithm looks
in the same directory as the destination file for either a file that has an identical size and modified-time, or a similarly-named
file. If found, rsync uses the fuzzy basis file to try to speed up the transfer.
Note that the use of the --delete option might get rid of any potential fuzzy-match files, so either use --delete-after or specify
some filename exclusions if you need to prevent this.
This option instructs rsync to use DIR on the destination machine as an additional hierarchy to compare destination files against
doing transfers (if the files are missing in the destination directory). If a file is found in DIR that is identical to the
sender's file, the file will NOT be transferred to the destination directory. This is useful for creating a sparse backup of just
files that have changed from an earlier backup.
Beginning in version 2.6.4, multiple --compare-dest directories may be provided, which will cause rsync to search the list in the
order specified for an exact match. If a match is found that differs only in attributes, a local copy is made and the attributes
updated. If a match is not found, a basis file from one of the DIRs will be selected to try to speed up the transfer.
If DIR is a relative path, it is relative to the destination directory. See also --copy-dest and --link-dest.
This option behaves like --compare-dest, but rsync will also copy unchanged files found in DIR to the destination directory using a
local copy. This is useful for doing transfers to a new destination while leaving existing files intact, and then doing a flash-
cutover when all files have been successfully transferred.
Multiple --copy-dest directories may be provided, which will cause rsync to search the list in the order specified for an unchanged
file. If a match is not found, a basis file from one of the DIRs will be selected to try to speed up the transfer.
If DIR is a relative path, it is relative to the destination directory. See also --compare-dest and --link-dest.
This option behaves like --copy-dest, but unchanged files are hard linked from DIR to the destination directory. The files must be
identical in all preserved attributes (e.g. permissions, possibly ownership) in order for the files to be linked together. An exam-
rsync -av --link-dest=$PWD/prior_dir host:src_dir/ new_dir/
Beginning in version 2.6.4, multiple --link-dest directories may be provided, which will cause rsync to search the list in the order
specified for an exact match. If a match is found that differs only in attributes, a local copy is made and the attributes updated.
If a match is not found, a basis file from one of the DIRs will be selected to try to speed up the transfer.
Note that if you combine this option with --ignore-times, rsync will not link any files together because it only links identical
files together as a substitute for transferring the file, never as an additional check after the file is updated.
If DIR is a relative path, it is relative to the destination directory. See also --compare-dest and --copy-dest.
Note that rsync versions prior to 2.6.1 had a bug that could prevent --link-dest from working properly for a non-super-user when -o
was specified (or implied by -a). You can work-around this bug by avoiding the -o option when sending to an old rsync.
With this option, rsync compresses the file data as it is sent to the destination machine, which reduces the amount of data being
transmitted -- something that is useful over a slow connection.
Note that this option typically achieves better compression ratios than can be achieved by using a compressing remote shell or a
compressing transport because it takes advantage of the implicit information in the matching data blocks that are not explicitly
sent over the connection.
Explicitly set the compression level to use (see --compress) instead of letting it default. If NUM is non-zero, the --compress
option is implied.
With this option rsync will transfer numeric group and user IDs rather than using user and group names and mapping them at both
By default rsync will use the username and groupname to determine what ownership to give files. The special uid 0 and the special
group 0 are never mapped via user/group names even if the --numeric-ids option is not specified.
If a user or group has no name on the source system or it has no match on the destination system, then the numeric ID from the
source system is used instead. See also the comments on the "use chroot" setting in the rsyncd.conf manpage for information on how
the chroot setting affects rsync's ability to look up the names of the users and groups and what you can do about it.
This option allows you to set a maximum I/O timeout in seconds. If no data is transferred for the specified time then rsync will
exit. The default is 0, which means no timeout.
By default rsync will bind to the wildcard address when connecting to an rsync daemon. The --address option allows you to specify a
specific IP address (or hostname) to bind to. See also this option in the --daemon mode section.
This specifies an alternate TCP port number to use rather than the default of 873. This is only needed if you are using the double-
colon (::) syntax to connect with an rsync daemon (since the URL syntax has a way to specify the port as a part of the URL). See
also this option in the --daemon mode section.
This option can provide endless fun for people who like to tune their systems to the utmost degree. You can set all sorts of socket
options which may make transfers faster (or slower!). Read the man page for the setsockopt() system call for details on some of the
options you may be able to set. By default no special socket options are set. This only affects direct socket connections to a
remote rsync daemon. This option also exists in the --daemon mode section.
This tells rsync to use blocking I/O when launching a remote shell transport. If the remote shell is either rsh or remsh, rsync
defaults to using blocking I/O, otherwise it defaults to using non-blocking I/O. (Note that ssh prefers non-blocking I/O.)
Requests a simple itemized list of the changes that are being made to each file, including attribute changes. This is exactly the
same as specifying --out-format='%i %n%L'. If you repeat the option, unchanged files will also be output, but only if the receiving
rsync is at least version 2.6.7 (you can use -vv with older versions of rsync, but that also turns on the output of other verbose
The "%i" escape has a cryptic output that is 9 letters long. The general format is like the string YXcstpogz, where Y is replaced
by the type of update being done, X is replaced by the file-type, and the other letters represent attributes that may be output if
they are being modified.
The update types that replace the Y are as follows:
o A < means that a file is being transferred to the remote host (sent).
o A > means that a file is being transferred to the local host (received).
o A c means that a local change/creation is occurring for the item (such as the creation of a directory or the changing of a
o A h means that the item is a hard link to another item (requires --hard-links).
o A . means that the item is not being updated (though it might have attributes that are being modified).
The file-types that replace the X are: f for a file, a d for a directory, an L for a symlink, a D for a device, and a S for a spe-
cial file (e.g. named sockets and fifos).
The other letters in the string above are the actual letters that will be output if the associated attribute for the item is being
updated or a "." for no change. Three exceptions to this are: (1) a newly created item replaces each letter with a "+", (2) an
identical item replaces the dots with spaces, and (3) an unknown attribute replaces each letter with a "?" (this can happen when
talking to an older rsync).
The attribute that is associated with each letter is as follows:
o A c means the checksum of the file is different and will be updated by the file transfer (requires --checksum).
o A s means the size of the file is different and will be updated by the file transfer.
o A t means the modification time is different and is being updated to the sender's value (requires --times). An alternate
value of T means that the time will be set to the transfer time, which happens anytime a symlink is transferred, or when a
file or device is transferred without --times.
o A p means the permissions are different and are being updated to the sender's value (requires --perms).
o An o means the owner is different and is being updated to the sender's value (requires --owner and super-user privileges).
o A g means the group is different and is being updated to the sender's value (requires --group and the authority to set the
o The z slot is reserved for future use.
One other output is possible: when deleting files, the "%i" will output the string "*deleting" for each item that is being removed
(assuming that you are talking to a recent enough rsync that it logs deletions instead of outputting them as a verbose message).
This allows you to specify exactly what the rsync client outputs to the user on a per-update basis. The format is a text string
containing embedded single-character escape sequences prefixed with a percent (%) character. For a list of the possible escape
characters, see the "log format" setting in the rsyncd.conf manpage.
Specifying this option will mention each file, dir, etc. that gets updated in a significant way (a transferred file, a recreated
symlink/device, or a touched directory). In addition, if the itemize-changes escape (%i) is included in the string, the logging of
names increases to mention any item that is changed in any way (as long as the receiving side is at least 2.6.4). See the --item-
ize-changes option for a description of the output of "%i".
The --verbose option implies a format of "%n%L", but you can use --out-format without --verbose if you like, or you can override the
format of its per-file output using this option.
Rsync will output the out-format string prior to a file's transfer unless one of the transfer-statistic escapes is requested, in
which case the logging is done at the end of the file's transfer. When this late logging is in effect and --progress is also speci-
fied, rsync will also output the name of the file being transferred prior to its progress information (followed, of course, by the
This option causes rsync to log what it is doing to a file. This is similar to the logging that a daemon does, but can be requested
for the client side and/or the server side of a non-daemon transfer. If specified as a client option, transfer logging will be
enabled with a default format of "%i %n%L". See the --log-file-format option if you wish to override this.
Here's a example command that requests the remote side to log what is happening:
rsync -av --rsync-path="rsync --log-file=/tmp/rlog" src/ dest/
This is very useful if you need to debug why a connection is closing unexpectedly.
This allows you to specify exactly what per-update logging is put into the file specified by the --log-file option (which must also
be specified for this option to have any effect). If you specify an empty string, updated files will not be mentioned in the log
file. For a list of the possible escape characters, see the "log format" setting in the rsyncd.conf manpage.
This tells rsync to print a verbose set of statistics on the file transfer, allowing you to tell how effective the rsync algorithm
is for your data.
The current statistics are as follows:
o Number of files is the count of all "files" (in the generic sense), which includes directories, symlinks, etc.
o Number of files transferred is the count of normal files that were updated via the rsync algorithm, which does not include
created dirs, symlinks, etc.
o Total file size is the total sum of all file sizes in the transfer. This does not count any size for directories or special
files, but does include the size of symlinks.
o Total transferred file size is the total sum of all files sizes for just the transferred files.
o Literal data is how much unmatched file-update data we had to send to the receiver for it to recreate the updated files.
o Matched data is how much data the receiver got locally when recreating the updated files.
o File list size is how big the file-list data was when the sender sent it to the receiver. This is smaller than the in-memory
size for the file list due to some compressing of duplicated data when rsync sends the list.
o File list generation time is the number of seconds that the sender spent creating the file list. This requires a modern
rsync on the sending side for this to be present.
o File list transfer time is the number of seconds that the sender spent sending the file list to the receiver.
o Total bytes sent is the count of all the bytes that rsync sent from the client side to the server side.
o Total bytes received is the count of all non-message bytes that rsync received by the client side from the server side.
"Non-message" bytes means that we don't count the bytes for a verbose message that the server sent to us, which makes the
stats more consistent.
This tells rsync to leave all high-bit characters unescaped in the output instead of trying to test them to see if they're valid in
the current locale and escaping the invalid ones. All control characters (but never tabs) are always escaped, regardless of this
The escape idiom that started in 2.6.7 is to output a literal backslash (\) and a hash (#), followed by exactly 3 octal digits. For
example, a newline would output as "\#012". A literal backslash that is in a filename is not escaped unless it is followed by a
hash and 3 digits (0-9).
Output numbers in a more human-readable format. This makes big numbers output using larger units, with a K, M, or G suffix. If
this option was specified once, these units are K (1000), M (1000*1000), and G (1000*1000*1000); if the option is repeated, the
units are powers of 1024 instead of 1000.
By default, rsync will delete any partially transferred file if the transfer is interrupted. In some circumstances it is more desir-
able to keep partially transferred files. Using the --partial option tells rsync to keep the partial file which should make a subse-
quent transfer of the rest of the file much faster.
A better way to keep partial files than the --partial option is to specify a DIR that will be used to hold the partial data (instead
of writing it out to the destination file). On the next transfer, rsync will use a file found in this dir as data to speed up the
resumption of the transfer and then delete it after it has served its purpose.
Note that if --whole-file is specified (or implied), any partial-dir file that is found for a file that is being updated will simply
be removed (since rsync is sending files without using the incremental rsync algorithm).
Rsync will create the DIR if it is missing (just the last dir -- not the whole path). This makes it easy to use a relative path
(such as "--partial-dir=.rsync-partial") to have rsync create the partial-directory in the destination file's directory when needed,
and then remove it again when the partial file is deleted.
If the partial-dir value is not an absolute path, rsync will add an exclude rule at the end of all your existing excludes. This
will prevent the sending of any partial-dir files that may exist on the sending side, and will also prevent the untimely deletion of
partial-dir items on the receiving side. An example: the above --partial-dir option would add the equivalent of
"--exclude=.rsync-partial/" at the end of any other filter rules.
If you are supplying your own exclude rules, you may need to add your own exclude/hide/protect rule for the partial-dir because (1)
the auto-added rule may be ineffective at the end of your other rules, or (2) you may wish to override rsync's exclude choice. For
instance, if you want to make rsync clean-up any left-over partial-dirs that may be lying around, you should specify --delete-after
and add a "risk" filter rule, e.g. -f 'R .rsync-partial/'. (Avoid using --delete-before or --delete-during unless you don't need
rsync to use any of the left-over partial-dir data during the current run.)
IMPORTANT: the --partial-dir should not be writable by other users or it is a security risk. E.g. AVOID "/tmp".
You can also set the partial-dir value the RSYNC_PARTIAL_DIR environment variable. Setting this in the environment does not force
--partial to be enabled, but rather it affects where partial files go when --partial is specified. For instance, instead of using
--partial-dir=.rsync-tmp along with --progress, you could set RSYNC_PARTIAL_DIR=.rsync-tmp in your environment and then just use the
-P option to turn on the use of the .rsync-tmp dir for partial transfers. The only times that the --partial option does not look
for this environment value are (1) when --inplace was specified (since --inplace conflicts with --partial-dir), and (2) when
--delay-updates was specified (see below).
For the purposes of the daemon-config's "refuse options" setting, --partial-dir does not imply --partial. This is so that a refusal
of the --partial option can be used to disallow the overwriting of destination files with a partial transfer, while still allowing
the safer idiom provided by --partial-dir.
This option puts the temporary file from each updated file into a holding directory until the end of the transfer, at which time all
the files are renamed into place in rapid succession. This attempts to make the updating of the files a little more atomic. By
default the files are placed into a directory named ".~tmp~" in each file's destination directory, but if you've specified the
--partial-dir option, that directory will be used instead. See the comments in the --partial-dir section for a discussion of how
this ".~tmp~" dir will be excluded from the transfer, and what you can do if you wnat rsync to cleanup old ".~tmp~" dirs that might
be lying around. Conflicts with --inplace and --append.
This option uses more memory on the receiving side (one bit per file transferred) and also requires enough free disk space on the
receiving side to hold an additional copy of all the updated files. Note also that you should not use an absolute path to --par-
tial-dir unless (1) there is no chance of any of the files in the transfer having the same name (since all the updated files will be
put into a single directory if the path is absolute) and (2) there are no mount points in the hierarchy (since the delayed updates
will fail if they can't be renamed into place).
See also the "atomic-rsync" perl script in the "support" subdir for an update algorithm that is even more atomic (it uses
--link-dest and a parallel hierarchy of files).
This option tells the receiving rsync to get rid of empty directories from the file-list, including nested directories that have no
non-directory children. This is useful for avoiding the creation of a bunch of useless directories when the sending rsync is recur-
sively scanning a hierarchy of files using include/exclude/filter rules.
Because the file-list is actually being pruned, this option also affects what directories get deleted when a delete is active. How-
ever, keep in mind that excluded files and directories can prevent existing items from being deleted (because an exclude hides
source files and protects destination files).
You can prevent the pruning of certain empty directories from the file-list by using a global "protect" filter. For instance, this
option would ensure that the directory "emptydir" was kept in the file-list:
--filter 'protect emptydir/'
Here's an example that copies all .pdf files in a hierarchy, only creating the necessary destination directories to hold the .pdf
files, and ensures that any superfluous files and directories in the destination are removed (note the hide filter of non-directo-
ries being used instead of an exclude):
rsync -avm --del --include='*.pdf' -f 'hide,! */' src/ dest
If you didn't want to remove superfluous destination files, the more time-honored options of "--include='*/' --exclude='*'" would
work fine in place of the hide-filter (if that is more natural to you).
This option tells rsync to print information showing the progress of the transfer. This gives a bored user something to watch.
Implies --verbose if it wasn't already specified.
While rsync is transferring a regular file, it updates a progress line that looks like this:
782448 63% 110.64kB/s 0:00:04
In this example, the receiver has reconstructed 782448 bytes or 63% of the sender's file, which is being reconstructed at a rate of
110.64 kilobytes per second, and the transfer will finish in 4 seconds if the current rate is maintained until the end.
These statistics can be misleading if the incremental transfer algorithm is in use. For example, if the sender's file consists of
the basis file followed by additional data, the reported rate will probably drop dramatically when the receiver gets to the literal
data, and the transfer will probably take much longer to finish than the receiver estimated as it was finishing the matched part of
When the file transfer finishes, rsync replaces the progress line with a summary line that looks like this:
1238099 100% 146.38kB/s 0:00:08 (xfer#5, to-check=169/396)
In this example, the file was 1238099 bytes long in total, the average rate of transfer for the whole file was 146.38 kilobytes per
second over the 8 seconds that it took to complete, it was the 5th transfer of a regular file during the current rsync session, and
there are 169 more files for the receiver to check (to see if they are up-to-date or not) remaining out of the 396 total files in
-P The -P option is equivalent to --partial --progress. Its purpose is to make it much easier to specify these two options for a long
transfer that may be interrupted.
This option allows you to provide a password in a file for accessing a remote rsync daemon. Note that this option is only useful
when accessing an rsync daemon using the built in transport, not when using a remote shell as the transport. The file must not be
world readable. It should contain just the password as a single line.
This option will cause the source files to be listed instead of transferred. This option is inferred if there is a single source
arg and no destination specified, so its main uses are: (1) to turn a copy command that includes a destination arg into a file-list-
ing command, (2) to be able to specify more than one local source arg (note: be sure to include the destination), or (3) to avoid
the automatically added "-r --exclude='/*/*'" options that rsync usually uses as a compatibility kluge when generating a non-recur-
sive listing. Caution: keep in mind that a source arg with a wild-card is expanded by the shell into multiple args, so it is never
safe to try to list such an arg without using this option. For example:
rsync -av --list-only foo* dest/
This option allows you to specify a maximum transfer rate in kilobytes per second. This option is most effective when using rsync
with large files (several megabytes and up). Due to the nature of rsync transfers, blocks of data are sent, then if rsync determines
the transfer was too fast, it will wait before sending the next data block. The result is an average transfer rate equaling the
specified limit. A value of zero specifies no limit.
Record a file that can later be applied to another identical destination with --read-batch. See the "BATCH MODE" section for
details, and also the --only-write-batch option.
Works like --write-batch, except that no updates are made on the destination system when creating the batch. This lets you trans-
port the changes to the destination system via some other means and then apply the changes via --read-batch.
Note that you can feel free to write the batch directly to some portable media: if this media fills to capacity before the end of
the transfer, you can just apply that partial transfer to the destination and repeat the whole process to get the rest of the
changes (as long as you don't mind a partially updated destination system while the multi-update cycle is happening).
Also note that you only save bandwidth when pushing changes to a remote system because this allows the batched data to be diverted
from the sender into the batch file without having to flow over the wire to the receiver (when pulling, the sender is remote, and
thus can't write the batch).
Apply all of the changes stored in FILE, a file previously generated by --write-batch. If FILE is -, the batch data will be read
from standard input. See the "BATCH MODE" section for details.
Force an older protocol version to be used. This is useful for creating a batch file that is compatible with an older version of
rsync. For instance, if rsync 2.6.4 is being used with the --write-batch option, but rsync 2.6.3 is what will be used to run the
--read-batch option, you should use "--protocol=28" when creating the batch file to force the older protocol version to be used in
the batch file (assuming you can't upgrade the rsync on the reading system).
-4, --ipv4 or -6, --ipv6
Tells rsync to prefer IPv4/IPv6 when creating sockets. This only affects sockets that rsync has direct control over, such as the
outgoing socket when directly contacting an rsync daemon. See also these options in the --daemon mode section.
Set the MD4 checksum seed to the integer NUM. This 4 byte checksum seed is included in each block and file MD4 checksum calcula-
tion. By default the checksum seed is generated by the server and defaults to the current time() . This option is used to set a
specific checksum seed, which is useful for applications that want repeatable block and file checksums, or in the case where the
user wants a more random checksum seed. Note that setting NUM to 0 causes rsync to use the default of time() for checksum seed.
The options allowed when starting an rsync daemon are as follows:
This tells rsync that it is to run as a daemon. The daemon you start running may be accessed using an rsync client using the
host::module or rsync://host/module/ syntax.
If standard input is a socket then rsync will assume that it is being run via inetd, otherwise it will detach from the current ter-
minal and become a background daemon. The daemon will read the config file (rsyncd.conf) on each connect made by a client and
respond to requests accordingly. See the rsyncd.conf(5) man page for more details.
By default rsync will bind to the wildcard address when run as a daemon with the --daemon option. The --address option allows you
to specify a specific IP address (or hostname) to bind to. This makes virtual hosting possible in conjunction with the --config
option. See also the "address" global option in the rsyncd.conf manpage.
This option allows you to specify a maximum transfer rate in kilobytes per second for the data the daemon sends. The client can
still specify a smaller --bwlimit value, but their requested value will be rounded down if they try to exceed it. See the client
version of this option (above) for some extra details.
This specifies an alternate config file than the default. This is only relevant when --daemon is specified. The default is
/etc/rsyncd.conf unless the daemon is running over a remote shell program and the remote user is not the super-user; in that case
the default is rsyncd.conf in the current directory (typically $HOME).
When running as a daemon, this option instructs rsync to not detach itself and become a background process. This option is required
when running as a service on Cygwin, and may also be useful when rsync is supervised by a program such as daemontools or AIX's Sys-
tem Resource Controller. --no-detach is also recommended when rsync is run under a debugger. This option has no effect if rsync is
run from inetd or sshd.
This specifies an alternate TCP port number for the daemon to listen on rather than the default of 873. See also the "port" global
option in the rsyncd.conf manpage.
This option tells the rsync daemon to use the given log-file name instead of using the "log file" setting in the config file.
This option tells the rsync daemon to use the given FORMAT string instead of using the "log format" setting in the config file. It
also enables "transfer logging" unless the string is empty, in which case transfer logging is turned off.
This overrides the socket options setting in the rsyncd.conf file and has the same syntax.
This option increases the amount of information the daemon logs during its startup phase. After the client connects, the daemon's
verbosity level will be controlled by the options that the client used and the "max verbosity" setting in the module's config sec-
-4, --ipv4 or -6, --ipv6
Tells rsync to prefer IPv4/IPv6 when creating the incoming sockets that the rsync daemon will use to listen for connections. One of
these options may be required in older versions of Linux to work around an IPv6 bug in the kernel (if you see an "address already in
use" error when nothing else is using the port, try specifying --ipv6 or --ipv4 when starting the daemon).
When specified after --daemon, print a short help page describing the options available for starting an rsync daemon.
The filter rules allow for flexible selection of which files to transfer (include) and which files to skip (exclude). The rules either
directly specify include/exclude patterns or they specify a way to acquire more include/exclude patterns (e.g. to read them from a file).
As the list of files/directories to transfer is built, rsync checks each name to be transferred against the list of include/exclude pat-
terns in turn, and the first matching pattern is acted on: if it is an exclude pattern, then that file is skipped; if it is an include
pattern then that filename is not skipped; if no matching pattern is found, then the filename is not skipped.
Rsync builds an ordered list of filter rules as specified on the command-line. Filter rules have the following syntax:
You have your choice of using either short or long RULE names, as described below. If you use a short-named rule, the ',' separating the
RULE from the MODIFIERS is optional. The PATTERN or FILENAME that follows (when present) must come after either a single space or an
underscore (_). Here are the available rule prefixes:
exclude, - specifies an exclude pattern.
include, + specifies an include pattern.
merge, . specifies a merge-file to read for more rules.
dir-merge, : specifies a per-directory merge-file.
hide, H specifies a pattern for hiding files from the transfer.
show, S files that match the pattern are not hidden.
protect, P specifies a pattern for protecting files from deletion.
risk, R files that match the pattern are not protected.
clear, ! clears the current include/exclude list (takes no arg)
When rules are being read from a file, empty lines are ignored, as are comment lines that start with a "#".
Note that the --include/--exclude command-line options do not allow the full range of rule parsing as described above -- they only allow
the specification of include/exclude patterns plus a "!" token to clear the list (and the normal comment parsing when rules are read from a
file). If a pattern does not begin with "- " (dash, space) or "+ " (plus, space), then the rule will be interpreted as if "+ " (for an
include option) or "- " (for an exclude option) were prefixed to the string. A --filter option, on the other hand, must always contain
either a short or long rule name at the start of the rule.
Note also that the --filter, --include, and --exclude options take one rule/pattern each. To add multiple ones, you can repeat the options
on the command-line, use the merge-file syntax of the --filter option, or the --include-from/--exclude-from options.
/EXCLUDE PATTERN RULES
You can include and exclude files by specifying patterns using the "+", "-", etc. filter rules (as introduced in the FILTER RULES section
above). The include/exclude rules each specify a pattern that is matched against the names of the files that are going to be transferred.
These patterns can take several forms:
o if the pattern starts with a / then it is anchored to a particular spot in the hierarchy of files, otherwise it is matched against
the end of the pathname. This is similar to a leading ^ in regular expressions. Thus "/foo" would match a file named "foo" at
either the "root of the transfer" (for a global rule) or in the merge-file's directory (for a per-directory rule). An unqualified
"foo" would match any file or directory named "foo" anywhere in the tree because the algorithm is applied recursively from the top
down; it behaves as if each path component gets a turn at being the end of the file name. Even the unanchored "sub/foo" would match
at any point in the hierarchy where a "foo" was found within a directory named "sub". See the section on ANCHORING INCLUDE/EXCLUDE
PATTERNS for a full discussion of how to specify a pattern that matches at the root of the transfer.
o if the pattern ends with a / then it will only match a directory, not a file, link, or device.
o rsync chooses between doing a simple string match and wildcard matching by checking if the pattern contains one of these three wild-
card characters: '*', '?', and '[' .
o a '*' matches any non-empty path component (it stops at slashes).
o use '**' to match anything, including slashes.
o a '?' matches any character except a slash (/).
o a '[' introduces a character class, such as [a-z] or [[:alpha:]].
o in a wildcard pattern, a backslash can be used to escape a wildcard character, but it is matched literally when no wildcards are
o if the pattern contains a / (not counting a trailing /) or a "**", then it is matched against the full pathname, including any lead-
ing directories. If the pattern doesn't contain a / or a "**", then it is matched only against the final component of the filename.
(Remember that the algorithm is applied recursively so "full filename" can actually be any portion of a path from the starting
directory on down.)
o a trailing "dir_name/***" will match both the directory (as if "dir_name/" had been specified) and all the files in the directory
(as if "dir_name/**" had been specified). (This behavior is new for version 2.6.7.)
Note that, when using the --recursive (-r) option (which is implied by -a), every subcomponent of every path is visited from the top down,
so include/exclude patterns get applied recursively to each subcomponent's full name (e.g. to include "/foo/bar/baz" the subcomponents
"/foo" and "/foo/bar" must not be excluded). The exclude patterns actually short-circuit the directory traversal stage when rsync finds
the files to send. If a pattern excludes a particular parent directory, it can render a deeper include pattern ineffectual because rsync
did not descend through that excluded section of the hierarchy. This is particularly important when using a trailing '*' rule. For
instance, this won't work:
This fails because the parent directory "some" is excluded by the '*' rule, so rsync never visits any of the files in the "some" or
"some/path" directories. One solution is to ask for all directories in the hierarchy to be included by using a single rule: "+ */" (put it
somewhere before the "- *" rule), and perhaps use the --prune-empty-dirs option. Another solution is to add specific include rules for all
the parent dirs that need to be visited. For instance, this set of rules works fine:
Here are some examples of exclude/include matching:
o "- *.o" would exclude all filenames matching *.o
o "- /foo" would exclude a file (or directory) named foo in the transfer-root directory
o "- foo/" would exclude any directory named foo
o "- /foo/*/bar" would exclude any file named bar which is at two levels below a directory named foo in the transfer-root directory
o "- /foo/**/bar" would exclude any file named bar two or more levels below a directory named foo in the transfer-root directory
o The combination of "+ */", "+ *.c", and "- *" would include all directories and C source files but nothing else (see also the
o The combination of "+ foo/", "+ foo/bar.c", and "- *" would include only the foo directory and foo/bar.c (the foo directory must be
explicitly included or it would be excluded by the "*")
MERGE-FILE FILTER RULES
You can merge whole files into your filter rules by specifying either a merge (.) or a dir-merge (:) filter rule (as introduced in the FIL-
TER RULES section above).
There are two kinds of merged files -- single-instance ('.') and per-directory (':'). A single-instance merge file is read one time, and
its rules are incorporated into the filter list in the place of the "." rule. For per-directory merge files, rsync will scan every direc-
tory that it traverses for the named file, merging its contents when the file exists into the current list of inherited rules. These per-
directory rule files must be created on the sending side because it is the sending side that is being scanned for the available files to
transfer. These rule files may also need to be transferred to the receiving side if you want them to affect what files don't get deleted
(see PER-DIRECTORY RULES AND DELETE below).
The following modifiers are accepted after a merge or dir-merge rule:
o A - specifies that the file should consist of only exclude patterns, with no other rule-parsing except for in-file comments.
o A + specifies that the file should consist of only include patterns, with no other rule-parsing except for in-file comments.
o A C is a way to specify that the file should be read in a CVS-compatible manner. This turns on 'n', 'w', and '-', but also allows
the list-clearing token (!) to be specified. If no filename is provided, ".cvsignore" is assumed.
o A e will exclude the merge-file name from the transfer; e.g. "dir-merge,e .rules" is like "dir-merge .rules" and "- .rules".
o An n specifies that the rules are not inherited by subdirectories.
o A w specifies that the rules are word-split on whitespace instead of the normal line-splitting. This also turns off comments.
Note: the space that separates the prefix from the rule is treated specially, so "- foo + bar" is parsed as two rules (assuming that
prefix-parsing wasn't also disabled).
o You may also specify any of the modifiers for the "+" or "-" rules (below) in order to have the rules that are read in from the file
default to having that modifier set. For instance, "merge,-/ .excl" would treat the contents of .excl as absolute-path excludes,
while "dir-merge,s .filt" and ":sC" would each make all their per-directory rules apply only on the sending side.
The following modifiers are accepted after a "+" or "-":
o A "/" specifies that the include/exclude rule should be matched against the absolute pathname of the current item. For example, "-/
/etc/passwd" would exclude the passwd file any time the transfer was sending files from the "/etc" directory, and "-/ subdir/foo"
would always exclude "foo" when it is in a dir named "subdir", even if "foo" is at the root of the current transfer.
o A "!" specifies that the include/exclude should take effect if the pattern fails to match. For instance, "-! */" would exclude all
o A C is used to indicate that all the global CVS-exclude rules should be inserted as excludes in place of the "-C". No arg should
o An s is used to indicate that the rule applies to the sending side. When a rule affects the sending side, it prevents files from
being transferred. The default is for a rule to affect both sides unless --delete-excluded was specified, in which case default
rules become sender-side only. See also the hide (H) and show (S) rules, which are an alternate way to specify sending-side
o An r is used to indicate that the rule applies to the receiving side. When a rule affects the receiving side, it prevents files
from being deleted. See the s modifier for more info. See also the protect (P) and risk (R) rules, which are an alternate way to
specify receiver-side includes/excludes.
Per-directory rules are inherited in all subdirectories of the directory where the merge-file was found unless the 'n' modifier was used.
Each subdirectory's rules are prefixed to the inherited per-directory rules from its parents, which gives the newest rules a higher prior-
ity than the inherited rules. The entire set of dir-merge rules are grouped together in the spot where the merge-file was specified, so it
is possible to override dir-merge rules via a rule that got specified earlier in the list of global rules. When the list-clearing rule
("!") is read from a per-directory file, it only clears the inherited rules for the current merge file.
Another way to prevent a single rule from a dir-merge file from being inherited is to anchor it with a leading slash. Anchored rules in a
per-directory merge-file are relative to the merge-file's directory, so a pattern "/foo" would only match the file "foo" in the directory
where the dir-merge filter file was found.
Here's an example filter file which you'd specify via --filter=". file":
This will merge the contents of the /home/user/.global-filter file at the start of the list and also turns the ".rules" filename into a
per-directory filter file. All rules read in prior to the start of the directory scan follow the global anchoring rules (i.e. a leading
slash matches at the root of the transfer).
If a per-directory merge-file is specified with a path that is a parent directory of the first transfer directory, rsync will scan all the
parent dirs from that starting point to the transfer directory for the indicated per-directory file. For instance, here is a common filter
That rule tells rsync to scan for the file .rsync-filter in all directories from the root down through the parent directory of the transfer
prior to the start of the normal directory scan of the file in the directories that are sent as a part of the transfer. (Note: for an
rsync daemon, the root is always the same as the module's "path".)
Some examples of this pre-scanning for per-directory files:
rsync -avF /src/path/ /dest/dir
rsync -av --filter=': ../../.rsync-filter' /src/path/ /dest/dir
rsync -av --filter=': .rsync-filter' /src/path/ /dest/dir
The first two commands above will look for ".rsync-filter" in "/" and "/src" before the normal scan begins looking for the file in
"/src/path" and its subdirectories. The last command avoids the parent-dir scan and only looks for the ".rsync-filter" files in each
directory that is a part of the transfer.
If you want to include the contents of a ".cvsignore" in your patterns, you should use the rule ":C", which creates a dir-merge of the
.cvsignore file, but parsed in a CVS-compatible manner. You can use this to affect where the --cvs-exclude (-C) option's inclusion of the
per-directory .cvsignore file gets placed into your rules by putting the ":C" wherever you like in your filter rules. Without this, rsync
would add the dir-merge rule for the .cvsignore file at the end of all your other rules (giving it a lower priority than your command-line
rules). For example:
cat <<EOT | rsync -avC --filter='. -' a/ b
rsync -avC --include=foo.o -f :C --exclude='*.old' a/ b
Both of the above rsync commands are identical. Each one will merge all the per-directory .cvsignore rules in the middle of the list
rather than at the end. This allows their dir-specific rules to supersede the rules that follow the :C instead of being subservient to all
your rules. To affect the other CVS exclude rules (i.e. the default list of exclusions, the contents of $HOME/.cvsignore, and the value of
$CVSIGNORE) you should omit the -C command-line option and instead insert a "-C" rule into your filter rules; e.g. "--filter=-C".
LIST-CLEARING FILTER RULE
You can clear the current include/exclude list by using the "!" filter rule (as introduced in the FILTER RULES section above). The "cur-
rent" list is either the global list of rules (if the rule is encountered while parsing the filter options) or a set of per-directory rules
(which are inherited in their own sub-list, so a subdirectory can use this to clear out the parent's rules).
As mentioned earlier, global include/exclude patterns are anchored at the "root of the transfer" (as opposed to per-directory patterns,
which are anchored at the merge-file's directory). If you think of the transfer as a subtree of names that are being sent from sender to
receiver, the transfer-root is where the tree starts to be duplicated in the destination directory. This root governs where patterns that
start with a / match.
Because the matching is relative to the transfer-root, changing the trailing slash on a source path or changing your use of the --relative
option affects the path you need to use in your matching (in addition to changing how much of the file tree is duplicated on the destina-
tion host). The following examples demonstrate this.
Let's say that we want to match two source files, one with an absolute path of "/home/me/foo/bar", and one with a path of
"/home/you/bar/baz". Here is how the various command choices differ for a 2-source transfer:
Example cmd: rsync -a /home/me /home/you /dest
+/- pattern: /me/foo/bar
+/- pattern: /you/bar/baz
Target file: /dest/me/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/you/bar/baz
Example cmd: rsync -a /home/me/ /home/you/ /dest
+/- pattern: /foo/bar (note missing "me")
+/- pattern: /bar/baz (note missing "you")
Target file: /dest/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/bar/baz
Example cmd: rsync -a --relative /home/me/ /home/you /dest
+/- pattern: /home/me/foo/bar (note full path)
+/- pattern: /home/you/bar/baz (ditto)
Target file: /dest/home/me/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/home/you/bar/baz
Example cmd: cd /home; rsync -a --relative me/foo you/ /dest
+/- pattern: /me/foo/bar (starts at specified path)
+/- pattern: /you/bar/baz (ditto)
Target file: /dest/me/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/you/bar/baz
The easiest way to see what name you should filter is to just look at the output when using --verbose and put a / in front of the name (use
the --dry-run option if you're not yet ready to copy any files).
PER-DIRECTORY RULES AND DELETE
Without a delete option, per-directory rules are only relevant on the sending side, so you can feel free to exclude the merge files them-
selves without affecting the transfer. To make this easy, the 'e' modifier adds this exclude for you, as seen in these two equivalent com-
rsync -av --filter=': .excl' --exclude=.excl host:src/dir /dest
rsync -av --filter=':e .excl' host:src/dir /dest
However, if you want to do a delete on the receiving side AND you want some files to be excluded from being deleted, you'll need to be sure
that the receiving side knows what files to exclude. The easiest way is to include the per-directory merge files in the transfer and use
--delete-after, because this ensures that the receiving side gets all the same exclude rules as the sending side before it tries to delete
rsync -avF --delete-after host:src/dir /dest
However, if the merge files are not a part of the transfer, you'll need to either specify some global exclude rules (i.e. specified on the
command line), or you'll need to maintain your own per-directory merge files on the receiving side. An example of the first is this
(assume that the remote .rules files exclude themselves):
rsync -av --filter=': .rules' --filter='. /my/extra.rules'
--delete host:src/dir /dest
In the above example the extra.rules file can affect both sides of the transfer, but (on the sending side) the rules are subservient to the
rules merged from the .rules files because they were specified after the per-directory merge rule.
In one final example, the remote side is excluding the .rsync-filter files from the transfer, but we want to use our own .rsync-filter
files to control what gets deleted on the receiving side. To do this we must specifically exclude the per-directory merge files (so that
they don't get deleted) and then put rules into the local files to control what else should not get deleted. Like one of these commands:
rsync -av --filter=':e /.rsync-filter' --delete \
rsync -avFF --delete host:src/dir /dest
Batch mode can be used to apply the same set of updates to many identical systems. Suppose one has a tree which is replicated on a number
of hosts. Now suppose some changes have been made to this source tree and those changes need to be propagated to the other hosts. In order
to do this using batch mode, rsync is run with the write-batch option to apply the changes made to the source tree to one of the destina-
tion trees. The write-batch option causes the rsync client to store in a "batch file" all the information needed to repeat this operation
against other, identical destination trees.
To apply the recorded changes to another destination tree, run rsync with the read-batch option, specifying the name of the same batch
file, and the destination tree. Rsync updates the destination tree using the information stored in the batch file.
For convenience, one additional file is creating when the write-batch option is used. This file's name is created by appending ".sh" to
the batch filename. The .sh file contains a command-line suitable for updating a destination tree using that batch file. It can be exe-
cuted using a Bourne (or Bourne-like) shell, optionally passing in an alternate destination tree pathname which is then used instead of the
original path. This is useful when the destination tree path differs from the original destination tree path.
Generating the batch file once saves having to perform the file status, checksum, and data block generation more than once when updating
multiple destination trees. Multicast transport protocols can be used to transfer the batch update files in parallel to many hosts at once,
instead of sending the same data to every host individually.
$ rsync --write-batch=foo -a host:/source/dir/ /adest/dir/
$ scp foo* remote:
$ ssh remote ./foo.sh /bdest/dir/
$ rsync --write-batch=foo -a /source/dir/ /adest/dir/
$ ssh remote rsync --read-batch=- -a /bdest/dir/ <foo
In these examples, rsync is used to update /adest/dir/ from /source/dir/ and the information to repeat this operation is stored in "foo"
and "foo.sh". The host "remote" is then updated with the batched data going into the directory /bdest/dir. The differences between the
two examples reveals some of the flexibility you have in how you deal with batches:
o The first example shows that the initial copy doesn't have to be local -- you can push or pull data to/from a remote host using
either the remote-shell syntax or rsync daemon syntax, as desired.
o The first example uses the created "foo.sh" file to get the right rsync options when running the read-batch command on the remote
o The second example reads the batch data via standard input so that the batch file doesn't need to be copied to the remote machine
first. This example avoids the foo.sh script because it needed to use a modified --read-batch option, but you could edit the script
file if you wished to make use of it (just be sure that no other option is trying to use standard input, such as the
The read-batch option expects the destination tree that it is updating to be identical to the destination tree that was used to create the
batch update fileset. When a difference between the destination trees is encountered the update might be discarded with a warning (if the
file appears to be up-to-date already) or the file-update may be attempted and then, if the file fails to verify, the update discarded with
an error. This means that it should be safe to re-run a read-batch operation if the command got interrupted. If you wish to force the
batched-update to always be attempted regardless of the file's size and date, use the -I option (when reading the batch). If an error
occurs, the destination tree will probably be in a partially updated state. In that case, rsync can be used in its regular (non-batch) mode
of operation to fix up the destination tree.
The rsync version used on all destinations must be at least as new as the one used to generate the batch file. Rsync will die with an
error if the protocol version in the batch file is too new for the batch-reading rsync to handle. See also the --protocol option for a way
to have the creating rsync generate a batch file that an older rsync can understand. (Note that batch files changed format in version
2.6.3, so mixing versions older than that with newer versions will not work.)
When reading a batch file, rsync will force the value of certain options to match the data in the batch file if you didn't set them to the
same as the batch-writing command. Other options can (and should) be changed. For instance --write-batch changes to --read-batch,
--files-from is dropped, and the --filter/--include/--exclude options are not needed unless one of the --delete options is specified.
The code that creates the BATCH.sh file transforms any filter/include/exclude options into a single list that is appended as a "here" docu-
ment to the shell script file. An advanced user can use this to modify the exclude list if a change in what gets deleted by --delete is
desired. A normal user can ignore this detail and just use the shell script as an easy way to run the appropriate --read-batch command for
the batched data.
The original batch mode in rsync was based on "rsync+", but the latest version uses a new implementation.
Three basic behaviors are possible when rsync encounters a symbolic link in the source directory.
By default, symbolic links are not transferred at all. A message "skipping non-regular" file is emitted for any symlinks that exist.
If --links is specified, then symlinks are recreated with the same target on the destination. Note that --archive implies --links.
If --copy-links is specified, then symlinks are "collapsed" by copying their referent, rather than the symlink.
rsync also distinguishes "safe" and "unsafe" symbolic links. An example where this might be used is a web site mirror that wishes ensure
the rsync module they copy does not include symbolic links to /etc/passwd in the public section of the site. Using --copy-unsafe-links
will cause any links to be copied as the file they point to on the destination. Using --safe-links will cause unsafe links to be omitted
altogether. (Note that you must specify --links for --safe-links to have any effect.)
Symbolic links are considered unsafe if they are absolute symlinks (start with /), empty, or if they contain enough ".." components to
ascend from the directory being copied.
Here's a summary of how the symlink options are interpreted. The list is in order of precedence, so if your combination of options isn't
mentioned, use the first line that is a complete subset of your options:
Turn all symlinks into normal files (leaving no symlinks for any other options to affect).
Turn all unsafe symlinks into files and duplicate all safe symlinks.
Turn all unsafe symlinks into files, noisily skip all safe symlinks.
Duplicate safe symlinks and skip unsafe ones.
Duplicate all symlinks.
rsync occasionally produces error messages that may seem a little cryptic. The one that seems to cause the most confusion is "protocol ver-
sion mismatch -- is your shell clean?".
This message is usually caused by your startup scripts or remote shell facility producing unwanted garbage on the stream that rsync is
using for its transport. The way to diagnose this problem is to run your remote shell like this:
ssh remotehost /bin/true > out.dat
then look at out.dat. If everything is working correctly then out.dat should be a zero length file. If you are getting the above error from
rsync then you will probably find that out.dat contains some text or data. Look at the contents and try to work out what is producing it.
The most common cause is incorrectly configured shell startup scripts (such as .cshrc or .profile) that contain output statements for non-
If you are having trouble debugging filter patterns, then try specifying the -vv option. At this level of verbosity rsync will show why
each individual file is included or excluded.
1 Syntax or usage error
2 Protocol incompatibility
3 Errors selecting input/output files, dirs
4 Requested action not supported: an attempt was made to manipulate 64-bit files on a platform that cannot support them; or an option
was specified that is supported by the client and not by the server.
5 Error starting client-server protocol
6 Daemon unable to append to log-file
10 Error in socket I/O
11 Error in file I/O
12 Error in rsync protocol data stream
13 Errors with program diagnostics
14 Error in IPC code
20 Received SIGUSR1 or SIGINT
21 Some error returned by waitpid()
22 Error allocating core memory buffers
23 Partial transfer due to error
24 Partial transfer due to vanished source files
25 The --max-delete limit stopped deletions
30 Timeout in data send/receive
The CVSIGNORE environment variable supplements any ignore patterns in .cvsignore files. See the --cvs-exclude option for more
The RSYNC_RSH environment variable allows you to override the default shell used as the transport for rsync. Command line options
are permitted after the command name, just as in the -e option.
The RSYNC_PROXY environment variable allows you to redirect your rsync client to use a web proxy when connecting to a rsync daemon.
You should set RSYNC_PROXY to a hostname:port pair.
Setting RSYNC_PASSWORD to the required password allows you to run authenticated rsync connections to an rsync daemon without user
intervention. Note that this does not supply a password to a shell transport such as ssh.
USER or LOGNAME
The USER or LOGNAME environment variables are used to determine the default username sent to an rsync daemon. If neither is set,
the username defaults to "nobody".
HOME The HOME environment variable is used to find the user's default .cvsignore file.
/etc/rsyncd.conf or rsyncd.conf
times are transferred as *nix time_t values
When transferring to FAT filesystems rsync may re-sync unmodified files. See the comments on the --modify-window option.
file permissions, devices, etc. are transferred as native numerical values
see also the comments on the --delete option
Please report bugs! See the website at http://rsync.samba.org/
This man page is current for version 2.6.9 of rsync.
The options --server and --sender are used internally by rsync, and should never be typed by a user under normal circumstances. Some
awareness of these options may be needed in certain scenarios, such as when setting up a login that can only run an rsync command. For
instance, the support directory of the rsync distribution has an example script named rrsync (for restricted rsync) that can be used with a
restricted ssh login.
rsync is distributed under the GNU public license. See the file COPYING for details.
A WEB site is available at http://rsync.samba.org/. The site includes an FAQ-O-Matic which may cover questions unanswered by this manual
The primary ftp site for rsync is ftp://rsync.samba.org/pub/rsync.
We would be delighted to hear from you if you like this program.
This program uses the excellent zlib compression library written by Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler.
Thanks to Richard Brent, Brendan Mackay, Bill Waite, Stephen Rothwell and David Bell for helpful suggestions, patches and testing of rsync.
I've probably missed some people, my apologies if I have.
Especial thanks also to: David Dykstra, Jos Backus, Sebastian Krahmer, Martin Pool, Wayne Davison, J.W. Schultz.
rsync was originally written by Andrew Tridgell and Paul Mackerras. Many people have later contributed to it.
Mailing lists for support and development are available at http://lists.samba.org
See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following attributes:
| ATTRIBUTE TYPE | ATTRIBUTE VALUE |
|Availability | SUNWrsync |
|Interface Stability | Volatile |
Source for rsync is available on http://opensolaris.org. WARNING: Daemon mode does not participate in the core Solaris security policies,
including Authentication, limit of privileges, Audit and Audit of any subprocessing.
6 Nov 2006 rsync(1)