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 already exists.
The rsync remote-update protocol allows rsync to transfer just the differences between two sets of files across the network link, using an efficient checksum-search algorithm described in the technical report that accompanies this package.
Some of the additional features of rsync are:
support for copying links, devices, owners, groups and permissions
exclude and exclude-from options similar to GNU tar
a CVS exclude mode for ignoring the same files that CVS would ignore
can use any transparent remote shell, including rsh or ssh
does not require root privileges
pipelining of file transfers to minimize latency costs
There are six different ways of using rsync. They are:
for copying local files. This is invoked when neither source nor destination path contains a : separator
for copying from the local machine to a remote machine using a remote shell program as the transport (such as rsh or ssh). This is invoked when the destination path contains a single : separator.
for copying from a remote machine to the local machine using a remote shell program. This is invoked when the source contains a : separator.
for copying from a remote rsync server to the local machine. This is invoked when the source path contains a :: separator or a rsync:// URL.
for copying from the local machine to a remote rsync server. This is invoked when the destination path contains a :: separator.
for listing files on a remote machine. This is done the same way as rsync transfers except that you leave off the local destination.
See the file README for installation instructions.
Once installed you can use rsync to any machine that you can use rsh to. rsync uses rsh for its communications, unless both the source and destination are local.
You can also specify an alternative to rsh, either by using the -e command line option, or by setting the RSYNC_RSH environment variable.
One common substitute is to use ssh, which offers a high degree of security.
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 some examples:
rsync *.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
rsync -avz foo:src/bar/ /data/tmp
a trailing slash on the source changes this behavior to transfer all files from the directory src/bar on the machine foo into the /data/tmp/. A trailing / on a source name means
You can also use rsync in local-only mode, where both the source and destination dont have a : in the name. In this case it behaves like an improved copy command.
It is also possible to use rsync without using rsh or ssh as the transport. In this case you will connect to a remote rsync server running on TCP port 873.
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 proxys configuration must allow proxying to port 873.
Using rsync in this way is the same as using it with rsh or ssh except that:
you use a double colon :: instead of a single colon to separate the hostname from the path.
the remote server may print a message of the day when you connect.
if you specify no path name on the remote server then the list of accessible paths on the server will be shown.
if you specify no local destination then a listing of the specified files on the remote server is provided.
Some paths on the remote server may require authentication. If so then 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.
Here are some examples of how I use rsync.
To backup my wifes 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 link to a duplicate directory on my machine
To synchronize my samba source trees I use the following Makefile targets:
get: rsync -avuzb --exclude * samba:samba/ .
put: rsync -Cavuzb . samba:samba/
sync: get put
this allows me to sync with a CVS directory at the other end of the link. I then do cvs operations on the remote machine, which saves a lot of time as the remote cvs protocol isnt very efficient.
I mirror a directory between my
rsync -az -e ssh --delete ftp/pub/samba/ nimbus:
Here is a short summary of the options available in rsync. Please refer to the detailed description below for a complete description.
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.
Print a short help page describing the options available in rsync
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 information 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 debugging rsync.
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.
Normally rsync will skip any files that are already the same length and have the same time-stamp. This option turns off this behavior.
Normally rsync will skip any files that are already the same length and have the same time-stamp. With the --size-only option files will be skipped 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 are within the value of modify_window. This is normally zero, but you may find it useful to set this to a larger value in some situations. In particular, when transferring to/from FAT filesystems which cannot represent times with a 1 second resolution this option is useful.
This forces the sender to checksum all files using a 128-bit MD4 checksum before transfer. The checksum is then explicitly checked on the receiver and any files of the same name which already exist and have the same checksum and size on the receiver are skipped. This option can be quite slow.
This is equivalent to -rlptgoD. It is a quick way of saying you want recursion and want to preserve almost everything.
Note however that -a does not preserve hardlinks, because finding multiply-linked files is expensive. You must separately specify -H.
This tells rsync to copy directories recursively. If you dont specify this then rsync wont copy directories at all.
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 the command
rsync foo/bar/foo.c remote:/tmp/
then this would create a file called foo.c in /tmp/ on the remote machine. If instead you used
rsync -R foo/bar/foo.c remote:/tmp/
then a file called /tmp/foo/bar/foo.c would be created on the remote machine. The full path name is preserved.
With this option preexisting destination files are renamed with a extension as each file is transferred. You can control the backup suffix using the --suffix option.
In combination with the --backup option, this tells rsync to store all backups in the specified directory. This is very useful for incremental backups.
This option allows you to override the default backup suffix used with the -b option. The default is a .
This forces rsync to skip any files for which the destination file already exists and has a date later than the source file.
When symlinks are encountered, recreate the symlink on the destination.
When symlinks are encountered, the file that they point to is copied, rather than the symlink.
This tells rsync to copy the referent of symbolic links that point outside the source tree. Absolute symlinks are also treated like ordinary files, and so are any symlinks in the source path itself when --relative is used.
This tells rsync to ignore any symbolic links which point outside the destination tree. All absolute symlinks are also ignored. Using this option in conjunction with --relative may give unexpected results.
This tells rsync to recreate hard links on the remote system to be the same as the local system. Without this option hard links are treated like regular 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 can be quite slow, so only use it if you need it.
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 target machines is higher than the bandwidth to disk (especially when the
Turn off --whole-file, for use when it is the default.
This option causes rsync to update the remote permissions to be the same as the local permissions.
This option causes rsync to set the owner of the destination file to be the same as the source file. On most systems, only the super-user can set file ownership.
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, only groups that the receiver is a member of will be preserved (by group name, not group id number).
This option causes rsync to transfer character and block device information to the remote system to recreate these devices. This option is only available to the super-user.
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, and all files will have their checksums compared and show up in log messages even if they havent changed.
This tells rsync to not do any file transfers, instead it will just report the actions it would have taken.
Try to handle sparse files efficiently so they take up less space on the destination.
NOTE: Dont use this option when the destination is a Solaris
This tells rsync not to cross filesystem boundaries when recursing. This is useful for transferring the contents of only one filesystem.
This tells rsync not to create any new files - only update files that already exist on the destination.
This tells rsync not to update files that already exist on the destination.
This tells rsync not to delete more than NUM files or directories. This is useful when mirroring very large trees to prevent disasters.
This tells rsync to delete any files on the receiving side that arent on the sending side. Files that are excluded from transfer are excluded from being deleted unless you use --delete-excluded.
This option has no effect if directory recursion is not selected.
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 arent listed.
If the sending side detects any IO 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 destination. You can override this with the --ignore-errors option.
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).
By default rsync does file deletions before transferring files to try to ensure that there is sufficient space on the receiving filesystem. If you want to delete after transferring then use the --delete-after switch.
Tells --delete to go ahead and delete files even when there are IO errors.
This options tells rsync to delete directories even if they are not empty when they are to be replaced by non-directories. This is only relevant without --delete because deletions are now done depth-first. Requires the --recursive option (which is implied by -a) to have any effect.
-B , --block-size=BLOCKSIZE
This controls the block size used in the rsync algorithm. 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. By default, rsync will use rsh, but you may like to instead use ssh because of its high security.
You can also choose the remote shell program using the RSYNC_RSH environment variable.
See also the --blocking-io option which is affected by this option.
Use this to specify the path to the copy of rsync on the remote machine. Useful when its not in your path. Note that this is the full path to the binary, not just the directory that the binary is in.
This option allows you to selectively exclude certain files from the list of files to be transferred. This is most useful in combination with a recursive transfer.
You may use as many --exclude options on the command line as you like to build up the list of files to exclude.
See the section on exclude patterns for information on the syntax of this option.
This option is similar to the --exclude option, but instead it adds all exclude patterns listed in the file FILE to the exclude list. Blank lines in FILE and lines starting with ; or # are ignored.
This option tells rsync to not exclude the specified pattern of filenames. This is useful as it allows you to build up quite complex exclude/include rules.
See the section of exclude patterns for information on the syntax of this option.
This specifies a list of include patterns from a file.
This is a useful shorthand for excluding a broad range of files that you often dont 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 *.o *.obj *.so *.Z *.elc *.ln core
then files listed in a $HOME/.cvsignore are added to the list and any files listed in the CVSIGNORE environment variable (space delimited).
Finally, any file is ignored if it is in the same directory as a .cvsignore file and matches one of the patterns listed therein. See the __cvs(1)?__ manual for more information.
By default the primary checksum used in rsync is a very strong 16 byte MD4 checksum. In most cases you will find that a truncated version of this checksum is quite efficient, and this will decrease the size of the checksum data sent over the link, making things faster.
You can choose the number of bytes in the truncated checksum using the --csum-length option. Any value less than or equal to 16 is valid.
Note that if you use this option then you run the risk of ending up with an incorrect target file. The risk with a value of 16 is microscopic and can be safely ignored (the universe will probably end before it fails) but with smaller values the risk is higher.
Current versions of rsync actually use an adaptive algorithm for the checksum length by default, using a 16 byte file checksum to determine if a 2nd pass is required with a longer block checksum. Only use this option if you have read the source code and know what you are doing.
This option instructs rsync to use DIR as a scratch directory when creating temporary copies of the files transferred on the receiving side. The default behavior is to create the temporary files in the receiving directory.
This option instructs rsync to use DIR on the destination machine as an additional directory to compare destination files against when doing transfers. 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 (for example by moving directories around and removing the old directory, although this requires also doing the transfer with -I to avoid skipping files that havent changed). This option increases the usefulness of --partial because partially transferred files will remain in the new temporary destination until they have a chance to be completed. If DIR is a relative path, it is relative to the destination directory.
With this option, rsync compresses any data from the files that it sends to the destination machine. This option is useful on slow links. The compression method used is the same method that gzip uses.
Note this this option typically achieves better compression ratios that can be achieved by using a compressing remote shell, or a compressing transport, as it takes advantage of the implicit information sent for matching data blocks.
With this option rsync will transfer numeric group and user ids rather than using user and group names and mapping them at both ends.
By default rsync will use the user name and group name 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 the source system is a daemon using chroot, or if a user or group name does not exist on the destination system, then the numeric id from the source system is used instead.
This option allows you to set a maximum IO timeout in seconds. If no data is transferred for the specified time then rsync will exit. The default is 0, which means no timeout.
This tells rsync that it is to run as a daemon. The daemon may be accessed 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 terminal and become a background daemon. The daemon will read the config file (/etc/rsyncd.conf) on each connect made by a client and respond to requests accordingly. See the rsyncd.conf(5) man page for more details.
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 AIXs System 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.
By default rsync will bind to the wildcard address when run as a daemon with the --daemon option or when connecting to a rsync server. 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.
This specifies an alternate config file than the default /etc/rsyncd.conf. This is only relevant when --daemon is specified.
This specifies an alternate TCP port number to use rather than the default port 873.
This tells rsync to use blocking IO when launching a remote shell transport. If -e or --rsh are not specified or are set to the default
Turn off --blocking-io, for use when it is the default.
This allows you to specify exactly what the rsync client logs to stdout on a per-file basis. The log format is specified using the same format conventions as the log format option in rsyncd.conf.
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.
By default, rsync will delete any partially transferred file if the transfer is interrupted. In some circumstances it is more desirable to keep partially transferred files. Using the --partial option tells rsync to keep the partial file which should make a subsequent transfer of the rest of the file much faster.
This option tells rsync to print information showing the progress of the transfer. This gives a bored user something to watch.
This option is normally combined with -v. Using this option without the -v option will produce weird results on your display.
The -P option is equivalent to --partial --progress. I found myself typing that combination quite often so I created an option to make it easier.
This option allows you to provide a password in a file for accessing a remote rsync server. Note that this option is only useful when accessing a rsync server 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 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 equalling the specified limit. A value of zero specifies no limit.
Generate a set of files that can be transferred as a batch update. Each filename in the set starts with PREFIX. See the
The exclude and include patterns specified to rsync allow for flexible selection of which files to transfer and which files to skip.
rsync builds an ordered list of include/exclude options as specified on the command line. When a filename is encountered, rsync checks the name against each exclude/include pattern in turn. 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 include/exclude pattern is found then the filename is not skipped.
Note that when used with -r (which is implied by -a), every subcomponent of every path is visited from top down, so include/exclude patterns get applied recursively to each subcomponent.
Note also that the --include and --exclude options take one pattern each. To add multiple patterns use the --include-from and --exclude-from options or multiple --include and --exclude options.
The patterns can take several forms. The rules are:
if the pattern starts with a / then it is matched against the start of the filename, otherwise it is matched against the end of the filename. Thus
if the pattern ends with a / then it will only match a directory, not a file, link or device.
filename matching rules. Otherwise a simple string match is used.
if the pattern includes a double asterisk
if the pattern contains a / (not counting a trailing /) then it is matched against the full filename, including any leading directory. If the pattern doesnt contain a / then it is matched only against the final component of the filename. Again, remember that the algorithm is applied recursively so
if the pattern starts with
if the pattern starts with
if the pattern is a single exclamation mark ! then the current include/exclude list is reset, removing all previously defined patterns.
The +/- rules are most useful in exclude lists, allowing you to have a single exclude list that contains both include and exclude options.
Here are some exclude/include examples:
Note: Batch mode should be considered experimental in this version of rsync. The interface or behaviour may change before it stabilizes.
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 destination trees. The write-batch option causes the rsync client to store the information needed to repeat this operation against other destination trees in a batch update fileset (see below). The filename of each file in the fileset starts with a prefix specified by the user as an argument to the write-batch option. This fileset is then copied to each remote host, where rsync is run with the read-batch option, again specifying the same prefix, and the destination tree. Rsync updates the destination tree using the information stored in the batch update fileset.
The fileset consists of 4 files:
rsync internal file metadata
data blocks for file update __
The .rsync_argvs file contains a command-line suitable for updating a destination tree using that batch update fileset. It can be executed using a 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 update fileset 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.
$ rsh remote ./pfx.rsync_argvs /bdest/dir/
In this example, rsync is used to update /adest/dir/ with /source/dir/ and the information to repeat this operation is stored in the files pfx.rsync_*. These files are then copied to the machine named
The read-batch option expects the destination tree it is meant to update 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 will fail at that point, leaving the destination tree 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 should be identical to the one used on the original destination.
The -z/--compress option does not work in batch mode and yields a usage error. A separate compression tool can be used instead to reduce the size of the batch update files for transport to the destination.
The -n/--dryrun option does not work in batch mode and yields a runtime error.
Three basic behaviours are possible when rsync encounters a symbolic link in the source directory.
By default, symbolic links are not transferred at all. A message
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 __
rsync occasionally produces error messages that may seem a little cryptic. The one that seems to cause the most confusion is
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:
rsh remotehost /bin/true
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-interactive logins.
Syntax or usage error
Errors selecting input/output files, dirs
Requested action not supported: an attempt was made to manipulate 64-bit files on a platform that cannot support them; or an option was speciifed that is supported by the client and not by the server.
Error in socket IO
Error in file IO
Error in rsync protocol data stream
Errors with program diagnostics
Error in IPC code
Received SIGUSR1 or SIGINT
Some error returned by waitpid()
Error allocating core memory buffers
The CVSIGNORE environment variable supplements any ignore patterns in .cvsignore files. See the --cvs-exclude option for more details.
The RSYNC_RSH environment variable allows you to override the default shell used as the transport for rsync. This can be used instead of 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 a 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 a rsync server.
times are transferred as unix time_t values
file permissions, devices etc are transferred as native numerical values
see also the comments on the --delete option
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 page.
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.
Thanks to Richard Brent, Brendan Mackay, Bill Waite, Stephen Rothwell and David Bell for helpful suggestions, patches and testing of rsync. Ive probably missed some people, my apologies if I have.
rsync was written by Andrew Tridgell
rsync is now maintained by Martin Pool
Mailing lists for support and development are available at http://lists.samba.org