The rsync command is a utility common to Linux, Unix, BSD and macOS. Versions of rsync are now available on Windows systems as well.
This command is used to synchronize files and directories. This can be done between locally attached storage, or between two different network connected systems. Design of the rsync algorithm minimizes the network usage, while still maintaining file synchronization.
The rsync daemon can be run on a machine to allow other remote machines to copy file to or from it. The rsync command requires arguments indicating the source and destination locations.
There are many different command line options available to rsync. The general format is: rsync options source destination
One of the nice features of rsync is that it only copies files that have changed since the last time they were transferred. Check the reference list at the bottom of this article for suggestions of the best set for your application. Some of the simplest are:
- rsync -avh /home/usr/dir/ /media/disk/backup/
– this copies everything in the directory /home/usr/dir/ to /media/disk/backup/
- rsync -avh –delete /home/user/dir/ /media/disk/backup – does the same as above except that files deleted from /home/user/dir/ will also be deleted from /media/disk/backup
- rsync –progress -avh /home/usr/dir/ /media/disk/backup/ – does the same as the first example, but show how much of the copy is remaining
When I run rsync -h on my macOS 10.11.6 system I get the following list of options:
rsync is a file transfer program capable of efficient remote update via a fast differencing algorithm. Usage: rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... DEST or rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... [USER@]HOST:DEST or rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... [USER@]HOST::DEST or rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/DEST or rsync [OPTION]... [USER@]HOST:SRC [DEST] or rsync [OPTION]... [USER@]HOST::SRC [DEST] or rsync [OPTION]... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/SRC [DEST] The ':' usages connect via remote shell, while '::' & 'rsync://' usages connect to an rsync daemon, and require SRC or DEST to start with a module name. Options -v, --verbose increase verbosity -q, --quiet suppress non-error messages --no-motd suppress daemon-mode MOTD (see manpage 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 set backup suffix (default ~ w/o --backup-dir) -u, --update skip files that are newer on the receiver --inplace update destination files in-place (SEE MAN PAGE) --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 source tree -k, --copy-dirlinks transform symlink to a 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 the file's 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 the remote machine --existing skip creating new files on receiver --ignore-existing skip updating files that already exist on receiver --remove-source-files sender removes synchronized files (non-dirs) --del an alias for --delete-during --delete delete extraneous files from destination dirs --delete-before receiver deletes before transfer (default) --delete-during receiver deletes during transfer, not before --delete-after receiver deletes after transfer, not before --delete-excluded also delete excluded files from destination dirs --ignore-errors delete even if there are I/O errors --force force deletion of directories 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 SIZ --partial keep partially transferred files --partial-dir=DIR put a partially transferred file into DIR --delay-updates put all updated files into place at transfer's end -m, --prune-empty-dirs prune empty directory chains from the 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 in size and mod-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 destination 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 transfe --compress-level=NUM explicitly set compression level -C, --cvs-exclude auto-ignore files 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 destination --read-batch=FILE read a batched update from FILE --protocol=NUM force an older protocol version to be used -E, --extended-attributes copy extended attributes --cache disable fcntl(F_NOCACHE) -4, --ipv4 prefer IPv4 -6, --ipv6 prefer IPv6 --version print version number (-h) --help show this help (-h works with no other options)
- How to Backup Linux? 15 rsync Command Examples
- Do-It-Yourself Backup System Using Rsync
- Back up like an expert with rsync
See my other Command Line articles