[Rsync] Basic usage




via remote shell, SOURCE and DEST can be:

USER@HOST:SRC    # if [USER] is not specified, the same user name on local machine will be used by default

Common Parameters

-v verbose (show progress etc.)
-a archive mode, Preserve almost everything, symbolic links, devices, attributes, permissions, ownerships etc.(except for hardlinks)
-r recursive
-p --perms the option causes the receiving rsync to set the destination permissions to be the same as the source permissions
-P same as --partial --progress
--partial keep partially transferred files (if the transfer is interrupted)
-u --update skip files that are newer on the receiver side
-z --compress compress data during transfer 
-b --backup preexisting destination files are renamed as each file is transferred or deleted
-h show data in human-readable format
-n --dry-run to test, won't make any change, commonly combined with -v
-q --quiet 
-i --itemize-changes output a change-summary for all updates
# delete extraneous files from dest dirs 
# (delete if the file or dir exists on receiver side but doesn't exist on source side).

Use cases

rsync -av SOURCE DIST  # copy dir recursively
rsync -v /home/test
rsync -v /home/test blyat@

rsync -e ssh ... # specify protocol

rsync -av -f"+ */" -f"- *"  SRC DIST
# copy only dir structure, dont transfer files

rsync -aAXHv --exclude={"/dev/*","/proc/*","/sys/*","/tmp/*","/run/*","/mnt/*","/media/*","/lost+found"} / /path/to/backup
# full system backup

Use cases from Manual

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 in the data. Note that the expansion of wild‐ cards on the command-line (.c) into a list of files is handled by the shell before it runs rsync and not by rsync itself (exactly the same as all other Posix- style programs).

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 following 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 re‐ mote 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 com‐ mand.

Finally, you can list all the (listable) modules available from a particular rsync daemon by leaving off the module name:

rsync somehost.mydomain.com::


The syntax for requesting multiple files from a remote host is done by specifying additional remote-host args in the same style as the first, or with the hostname omitted. For instance, all these work:

rsync -av host:file1 :file2 host:file{3,4} /dest/
rsync -av host::modname/file{1,2} host::modname/file3 /dest/
rsync -av host::modname/file1 ::modname/file{3,4}

Older versions of rsync required using quoted spaces in the SRC, like these examples:

rsync -av host:'dir1/file1 dir2/file2' /dest
rsync host::'modname/dir1/file1 modname/dir2/file2' /dest

This word-splitting still works (by default) in the latest rsync, but is not as easy to use as the first method.

If you need to transfer a filename that contains whitespace, you can either specify the –protect-args (-s) option, or you’ll need to escape the whitespace in a way that the remote shell will understand. For instance:

rsync -av host:'file\ name\ with\ spaces' /dest