Rsync (Remote Sync): 10 Practical Examples of Rsync Command in Linux

Rsync (Remote Sync) is a most commonly used command for copying and synchronizing files and directories remotely as well as locally in Linux/Unix systems. With the help of rsync command you can copy and synchronize your data remotely and locally across directories, across disks and networks, perform data backups and mirroring between two Linux machines.

Rsync Commands
Rsync Local and Remote File Synchronization

This article explains 10 basic and advanced usage of the rsync command to transfer your files remotely and locally in Linux based machines. You don’t need to be root user to run rsync command.

Some advantages and features of Rsync command
  1. It efficiently copies and sync files to or from a remote system.
  2. Supports copying links, devices, owners, groups and permissions.
  3. It’s faster than scp (Secure Copy) because rsync uses remote-update protocol which allows to transfer just the differences between two sets of files. First time, it copies the whole content of a file or a directory from source to destination but from next time, it copies only the changed blocks and bytes to the destination.
  4. Rsync consumes less bandwidth as it uses compression and decompression method while sending and receiving data both ends.
Basic syntax of rsync command
# rsync options source destination
Some common options used with rsync commands
  1. -v : verbose
  2. -r : copies data recursively (but don’t preserve timestamps and permission while transferring data
  3. -a : archive mode, archive mode allows copying files recursively and it also preserves symbolic links, file permissions, user & group ownerships and timestamps
  4. -z : compress file data
  5. -h : human-readable, output numbers in a human-readable format

Suggested Read: How to Sync Files/Directories Using Rsync with Non-standard SSH Port

Install rsync in your Linux machine

We can install rsync package with the help of following command.

# yum install rsync (On Red Hat based systems)
# apt-get install rsync (On Debian based systems)

1. Copy/Sync Files and Directory Locally

Copy/Sync a File on a Local Computer

This following command will sync a single file on a local machine from one location to another location. Here in this example, a file name backup.tar needs to be copied or synced to /tmp/backups/ folder.

[[email protected]]# rsync -zvh backup.tar /tmp/backups/

created directory /tmp/backups


sent 14.71M bytes  received 31 bytes  3.27M bytes/sec

total size is 16.18M  speedup is 1.10

In above example, you can see that if the destination is not already exists rsync will create a directory automatically for destination.

Copy/Sync a Directory on Local Computer

The following command will transfer or sync all the files of from one directory to a different directory in the same machine. Here in this example, /root/rpmpkgs contains some rpm package files and you want that directory to be copied inside /tmp/backups/ folder.

[[email protected]]# rsync -avzh /root/rpmpkgs /tmp/backups/

sending incremental file list






sent 4.99M bytes  received 92 bytes  3.33M bytes/sec

total size is 4.99M  speedup is 1.00

2. Copy/Sync Files and Directory to or From a Server

Copy a Directory from Local Server to a Remote Server

This command will sync a directory from a local machine to a remote machine. For example: There is a folder in your local computer “rpmpkgs” which contains some RPM packages and you want that local directory’s content send to a remote server, you can use following command.

[[email protected]]$ rsync -avz rpmpkgs/ [email protected]:/home/

[email protected]'s password:

sending incremental file list






sent 4993369 bytes  received 91 bytes  399476.80 bytes/sec

total size is 4991313  speedup is 1.00
Copy/Sync a Remote Directory to a Local Machine

This command will help you sync a remote directory to a local directory. Here in this example, a directory /home/tarunika/rpmpkgs which is on a remote server is being copied in your local computer in /tmp/myrpms.

[[email protected]]# rsync -avzh [email protected]:/home/tarunika/rpmpkgs /tmp/myrpms

[email protected]'s password:

receiving incremental file list

created directory /tmp/myrpms






sent 91 bytes  received 4.99M bytes  322.16K bytes/sec

total size is 4.99M  speedup is 1.00

3. Rsync Over SSH

With rsync, we can use SSH (Secure Shell) for data transfer, using SSH protocol while transferring our data you can be ensured that your data is being transferred in a secured connection with encryption so that nobody can read your data while it is being transferred over the wire on the internet.

Also when we use rsync we need to provide the user/root password to accomplish that particular task, so using SSH option will send your logins in an encrypted manner so that your password will be safe.

Copy a File from a Remote Server to a Local Server with SSH

To specify a protocol with rsync you need to give “-e” option with protocol name you want to use. Here in this example, We will be using “ssh” with “-e” option and perform data transfer.

[[email protected]]# rsync -avzhe ssh [email protected]:/root/install.log /tmp/

[email protected]'s password:

receiving incremental file list


sent 30 bytes  received 8.12K bytes  1.48K bytes/sec

total size is 30.74K  speedup is 3.77
Copy a File from a Local Server to a Remote Server with SSH
[[email protected]]# rsync -avzhe ssh backup.tar [email protected]:/backups/

[email protected]'s password:

sending incremental file list


sent 14.71M bytes  received 31 bytes  1.28M bytes/sec

total size is 16.18M  speedup is 1.10

Suggested Read: Use Rsync to Sync New or Changed/Modified Files in Linux

4. Show Progress While Transferring Data with rsync

To show the progress while transferring the data from one machine to a different machine, we can use ‘–progress’ option for it. It displays the files and the time remaining to complete the transfer.

[[email protected]]# rsync -avzhe ssh --progress /home/rpmpkgs [email protected]:/root/rpmpkgs

[email protected]'s password:

sending incremental file list

created directory /root/rpmpkgs



           1.02M 100%        2.72MB/s        0:00:00 (xfer#1, to-check=3/5)


          99.04K 100%  241.19kB/s        0:00:00 (xfer#2, to-check=2/5)


           1.79M 100%        1.56MB/s        0:00:01 (xfer#3, to-check=1/5)


           2.09M 100%        1.47MB/s        0:00:01 (xfer#4, to-check=0/5)

sent 4.99M bytes  received 92 bytes  475.56K bytes/sec

total size is 4.99M  speedup is 1.00

5. Use of –include and –exclude Options

These two options allows us to include and exclude files by specifying parameters with these option helps us to specify those files or directories which you want to include in your sync and exclude files and folders with you don’t want to be transferred.

Here in this example, rsync command will include those files and directory only which starts with ‘R’ and exclude all other files and directory.

[[email protected]]# rsync -avze ssh --include 'R*' --exclude '*' [email protected]:/var/lib/rpm/ /root/rpm

[email protected]'s password:

receiving incremental file list

created directory /root/rpm




sent 67 bytes  received 167289 bytes  7438.04 bytes/sec

total size is 434176  speedup is 2.59

6. Use of –delete Option

If a file or directory not exist at the source, but already exists at the destination, you might want to delete that existing file/directory at the target while syncing .

We can use ‘–delete‘ option to delete files that are not there in source directory.

Source and target are in sync. Now creating new file test.txt at the target.

[[email protected]]# touch test.txt
[[email protected]]# rsync -avz --delete [email protected]:/var/lib/rpm/ .
receiving file list ... done
deleting test.txt
sent 26 bytes  received 390 bytes  48.94 bytes/sec
total size is 45305958  speedup is 108908.55

Target has the new file called test.txt, when synchronize with the source with ‘–delete‘ option, it removed the file test.txt.

7. Set the Max Size of Files to be Transferred

You can specify the Max file size to be transferred or sync. You can do it with “–max-size” option. Here in this example, Max file size is 200k, so this command will transfer only those files which are equal or smaller than 200k.

[[email protected]]# rsync -avzhe ssh --max-size='200k' /var/lib/rpm/ [email protected]:/root/tmprpm

[email protected]'s password:

sending incremental file list

created directory /root/tmprpm













sent 189.79K bytes  received 224 bytes  13.10K bytes/sec

total size is 38.08M  speedup is 200.43

8. Automatically Delete source Files after successful Transfer

Now, suppose you have a main web server and a data backup server, you created a daily backup and synced it with your backup server, now you don’t want to keep that local copy of backup in your web server.

So, will you wait for transfer to complete and then delete those local backup file manually? Of Course NO. This automatic deletion can be done using ‘–remove-source-files‘ option.

[[email protected]]# rsync --remove-source-files -zvh backup.tar /tmp/backups/


sent 14.71M bytes  received 31 bytes  4.20M bytes/sec

total size is 16.18M  speedup is 1.10

[[email protected]]# ll backup.tar

ls: backup.tar: No such file or directory

9. Do a Dry Run with rsync

If you are a newbie and using rsync and don’t know what exactly your command going do. Rsync could really mess up the things in your destination folder and then doing an undo can be a tedious job.

Suggested Read: How to Sync Two Apache Web Servers/Websites Using Rsync

Use of this option will not make any changes only do a dry run of the command and shows the output of the command, if the output shows exactly same you want to do then you can remove ‘–dry-run‘ option from your command and run on the terminal.

[email protected]]# rsync --dry-run --remove-source-files -zvh backup.tar /tmp/backups/


sent 35 bytes  received 15 bytes  100.00 bytes/sec

total size is 16.18M  speedup is 323584.00 (DRY RUN)

10. Set Bandwidth Limit and Transfer File

You can set the bandwidth limit while transferring data from one machine to another machine with the the help of ‘–bwlimit‘ option. This options helps us to limit I/O bandwidth.

[[email protected]]# rsync --bwlimit=100 -avzhe ssh  /var/lib/rpm/  [email protected]:/root/tmprpm/
[email protected]'s password:
sending incremental file list
sent 324 bytes  received 12 bytes  61.09 bytes/sec
total size is 38.08M  speedup is 113347.05

Also, by default rsync syncs changed blocks and bytes only, if you want explicitly want to sync whole file then you use ‘-W‘ option with it.

[[email protected]]# rsync -zvhW backup.tar /tmp/backups/backup.tar
sent 14.71M bytes  received 31 bytes  3.27M bytes/sec
total size is 16.18M  speedup is 1.10

That’s all with rsync now, you can see man pages for more options. Stay connected with Tecmint for more exciting and interesting tutorials in future. Do leave your comments and suggestions.

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157 thoughts on “Rsync (Remote Sync): 10 Practical Examples of Rsync Command in Linux”

  1. What about daemon mode?

    Nobody explains, besides running under inetd and configuration files, how to actually use with source and destination.

  2. I’d like to copy an external hard drive (iTunes Library, etc.) to another external hard drive (to serve as a back-up) when they are both connected to my MacBook Pro. I am not a programmer and have no experience or understanding of the codes and commands you all may take for granted.

    A friend told me about rsync and I have done a little exploring online. It would be so helpful if someone would provide the script that I could copy-and-paste into the Terminal window.

  3. What about rsync and hidden files in one pass. Is this possible?

    I used rsync for ./Leslie/* and then for ./Leslie/\,*

    I did not notice anywhere where Icould combine the two rsync commands to save one pass

    • I think you might to enter both arguments one after one as it can be done with cp or mv tools but only difference that it must be put in brackets like this: './Leslie/* ./Leslie/.*'.

  4. Hi, its good stuff, I need to automate following job process, I need to do same for every one hour, I feel its better to make use of rsync, but how to use this for my application? I can not do any thing at remote server side. i got sftp access only, generally I am doing following things manually


    # sftp [email protected]


    # cd /sourcedir

    step3:in above directory every day one directory will create, in this directory some files are dropping.

    # get -Pr 2018-02-26


    # hadoop fs -put -f 2018-02-26 /destination

    I need to automate this

  5. I need to rsync two machines losing connectivity as an standard. I mean they only see on a short period of time and i can’t know when that happens. have rsync some exit code? Or must i just use an script and try one and another time until they see? Any timeout setup to allow the search to bee short?

    Best regards.

    • @Donald,

      If it’s a connection timeout because of SSH server is slow to respond, you can set the timeout option while running rsync as shown.

      # rsync -e 'ssh -o ConnectTimeout=120'
  6. Hello friends,

    Can any one tell me how to keep update my backup machine.

    The problem is here.

    Source to destination synchronization need to be 100% accurate. Actually I have 2 servers that I need to be sync (100% copy of each other). I have tested it in the following way.

    rsyncdemo dir on both servers that I need to synchronize that contains further sub folders and files.
    Test 1:

    # rsync -uvr -e ssh  /rsyncdemo [email protected]:/rsyncdemo 

    It copies all data successfully no issues. but problem is that if I delete a file or folder on the source machine it do not delete it from the destination.


    # rsync -uvr --delete -e ssh  /rsyncdemo [email protected]:/rsyncdemo 
    It checks on both servers if I deliberately delete a file from the source. The rsync command check it on destination and copy it back to source machine.
    I want to keep the destination machine up to date according to the source machine. 
    How to block/restrict the rsync no to copy any file or folder from the destination to source.
    Thanks in Advance

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