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
--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
-E, --extended-attributes copy extended attributes, resource forks
--cache disable fcntl(F_NOCACHE)
--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: Don't use this option when the destination is a Solaris "tmpfs" filesystem. It doesn't seem to handle seeks over null regions
correctly and ends up corrupting the files.
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 ('