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.
WARNING: On some systems environment variables are visible to all
users. On those systems using --password-file is recommended.
RUNNING AN RSYNC SERVER
An rsync server is configured using a config file which by default is
called /etc/rsyncd.conf. Please see the rsyncd.conf(5) man page for more information.
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 link to a duplicate directory on my machine
To synchronize my samba source trees I use the following Makefile
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
link. 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
rsync -az -e ssh --delete ~ftp/pub/samba/ nimbus:"~ftp/pub/tridge/samba"
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 decrease verbosity
-c, --checksum always checksum
-a, --archive archive mode
-r, --recursive recurse into directories
-R, --relative use relative path names
-b, --backup make backups (default ~ suffix)
--backup-dir=DIR put backups in the specified directory
--suffix=SUFFIX override backup suffix
-u, --update update only (don't overwrite newer files)
-l, --links preserve soft links
-L, --copy-links treat soft links like regular files
--copy-unsafe-links copy links outside the source tree
--safe-links ignore links outside the destination tree
-H, --hard-links preserve hard links
-p, --perms preserve permissions
-o, --owner preserve owner (root only)
-g, --group preserve group
-D, --devices preserve devices (root only)
-t, --times preserve times
-S, --sparse handle sparse files efficiently
-n, --dry-run show what would have been transferred
-W, --whole-file copy whole files, no incremental checks
-x, --one-file-system don't cross filesystem boundaries
-B, --block-size=SIZE checksum blocking size (default 700)
-e, --rsh=COMMAND specify rsh replacement
--rsync-path=PATH specify path to rsync on the remote machine
-C, --cvs-exclude auto ignore files in the same way CVS does
--existing only update files that already exist
--delete delete files that don't exist on the sending side
--delete-excluded also delete excluded files on the receiving side
--delete-after delete after transferring, not before
--max-delete=NUM don't delete more than NUM files
--partial keep partially transferred files
--force force deletion of directories even if not empty
--numeric-ids don't map uid/gid values by user/group name
--timeout=TIME set IO timeout in seconds
-I, --ignore-times don't exclude files that match length and time
--size-only only use file size when determining if a file should be transferred
-T --temp-dir=DIR create temporary files in directory DIR
--compare-dest=DIR also compare destination files relative to DIR
-P equivalent to --partial --progress
-z, --compress compress file data
--exclude=PATTERN exclude files matching PATTERN
--exclude-from=FILE exclude patterns listed in FILE
--include=PATTERN don't exclude files matching PATTERN
--include-from=FILE don't exclude patterns listed in FILE
--version print version number
--daemon run as a rsync daemon
--address bind to the specified address
--config=FILE specify alternate rsyncd.conf file
--port=PORT specify alternate rsyncd port number
--stats give some file transfer stats
--progress show progress during transfer
--log-format=FORMAT log file transfers using specified format
--password-file=FILE get password from FILE
-h, --help show this help screen
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.
- -h, --help
Print a short help page describing the options
available in rsync
print the rsync version number and exit
- -v, --verbose
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.
- -q, --quiet
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
- -I, --ignore-times
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
- -c, --checksum
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.
- -a, --archive
This is equivalent to -rlptgoD. It is a quick way
of saying you want recursion and want to preserve everything.
- -r, --recursive
This tells rsync to copy directories
recursively. If you don't specify this then rsync won't copy
directories at all.
- -R, --relative
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.
- -b, --backup
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 ~.
- -u, --update
This forces rsync to skip any files for which the
destination file already exists and has a date later than the source
- -l, --links
This tells rsync to recreate symbolic links on the
remote system to be the same as the local system. Without this
option, all symbolic links are skipped.
- -L, --copy-links
This tells rsync to treat symbolic links just
like ordinary files.
This tells rsync to treat symbolic links that
point outside the source tree like ordinary files. 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.
- -H, --hard-links
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.
- -W, --whole-file
With this option the incremental rsync algorithm
is not used and the whole file is sent as-is instead. This may be
useful when using rsync with a local machine.
- -p, --perms
This option causes rsync to update the remote
permissions to be the same as the local permissions.
- -o, --owner
This option causes rsync to update the remote owner
of the file to be the same as the local owner. This is only available
to the super-user. Note that if the source system is a daemon using chroot,
the --numeric-ids option is implied because the source system cannot get
access to the usernames.
- -g, --group
This option causes rsync to update the remote group
of the file to be the same as the local group. If the receving system 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).
- -D, --devices
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.
- -t, --times
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 haven't
- -n, --dry-run
This tells rsync to not do any file transfers,
instead it will just report the actions it would have taken.
- -S, --sparse
Try to handle sparse files efficiently so they take
up less space on the destination.
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.
- -x, --one-file-system
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 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 aren't 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 aren't 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
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.
This options tells rsync to delete directories even if
they are not empty. This applies to both the --delete option and to
cases where rsync tries to copy a normal file but the destination
contains a directory of the same name.
Since this option was added, deletions were reordered to be done depth-first
so it is hardly ever needed anymore except in very obscure cases.
- -B , --block_size=BLOCKSIZE
This controls the block size used in
the rsync algorithm. See the technical report for details.
- -e, --rsh=COMMAND
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
Use this to specify the path to the copy of
rsync on the remote machine. Useful when it's 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 is similar to the --exclude
option, but instead it adds all filenames listed in the file FILE to
the exclude list. Blank lines in FILE and lines starting with ';' or '#'
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 specifies a list of include patterns
from a file.
- -C, --cvs-exclude
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 *.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 in each directory any files listed in the .cvsignore file in
that directory are added to the list.
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.
- -T, --temp-dir=DIR
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 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 haven't 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
- -z, --compress
With this option, rsync compresses any data from
the source file(s) which 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 rsync
daemon. 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
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
This specifies an alternate TCP port number to use
rather than the default port 873.
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
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
The exclude and include patterns specified to rsync allow for flexible
selection of which files to transfer and which files to skip.
rsync builds a 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 than 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 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:
The +/- rules are most useful in exclude lists, allowing you to have a
single exclude list that contains both include and exclude options.
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 /foo would match a file called foo
at the base of the tree whereas foo would match any file
called foo anywhere in the tree.
if the pattern ends with a / then it will only match a
directory, not a file, link or device.
if the pattern contains a wildcard character from the set
*?[ then expression matching is applied using the shell filename
matching rules. Otherwise a simple string match is used.
if the pattern contains a / (not counting a trailing /) then it
is matched against the full filename, including any leading
directory. If the pattern doesn't contain a / then it is matched
only against the final component of the filename. Furthermore, if
the pattern includes a double asterisk "**" then all wildcards in
the pattern will match slashes, otherwise they will stop at slashes.
if the pattern starts with "+ " (a plus followed by a space)
then it is always considered an include pattern, even if specified as
part of an exclude option. The "+ " part is discarded before matching.
if the pattern starts with "- " (a minus followed by a space)
then it is always considered an exclude pattern, even if specified as
part of an include option. The "- " part is discarded before matching.
if the pattern is a single exclamation mark ! then the current
exclude list is reset, removing all previous exclude patterns.
Here are some examples:
--exclude "*.o" would exclude all filenames matching *.o
--exclude "/foo" would exclude a file in the base directory called foo
--exclude "foo/" would exclude any directory called foo
--exclude "/foo/*/bar" would exclude any file called bar two
levels below a base directory called foo
--exclude "/foo/**/bar" would exclude any file called bar two
or more levels below a base directory called foo
--include "*/" --include "*.c" --exclude "*" would include all
directories and C source files
--include "foo/" --include "foo/bar.c" --exclude "*" would include
only foo/bar.c (the foo/ directory must be explicitly included or
it would be excluded by the "*")
rsync occasionally produces error messages that may seem a little
cryptic. The one that seems to cause the most confusion is "protocol
version mismatch - is your shell clean?".
This message is usually caused by your startup scripts or remote shell
facility producing unwanted garbage on the stream that rsync is using
for its transport. The way to diagnose this problem is to run your
remote shell like this:
rsh remotehost /bin/true > out.dat
then look at out.dat. If everything is working correctly then out.dat
should be a zero length file. If you are getting the above error from
rsync then you will probably find that out.dat contains some text or
data. Look at the contents and try to work out what is producing
it. The most common cause is incorrectly configured shell startup
scripts (such as .cshrc or .profile) that contain output statements
for non-interactive logins.
The CVSIGNORE environment variable supplements any
ignore patterns in .cvsignore files. See the --cvs-exclude option for
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.
The HOME environment variable is used to find the user's
default .cvsignore file.
times are transferred as unix time_t values
file permissions, devices etc are transferred as native numerical
see also the comments on the --delete option
Please report bugs! The rsync bug tracking system is online at
This man page is current for version 2.4.1 of rsync
rsync is distributed under the GNU public license. See the file
COPYING for details.
A WEB site is available at
The primary ftp site for rsync is
We would be delighted to hear from you if you like this program.
This program uses the excellent zlib compression library written by
Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler.
Thanks to Richard Brent, Brendan Mackay, Bill Waite, Stephen Rothwell
and David Bell for helpful suggestions and testing of rsync. I've
probably missed some people, my apologies if I have.
rsync was written by Andrew Tridgell and Paul Mackerras. They may be
contacted via email at email@example.com and