How to use rsync command?

rsync (Remote Sync) is a most commonly used command for copying an synchronizing files and directories to local or remote on linux or mac.

If the source directory has a trailing slash, the command will copy only the directory contents to the destination directory.

When the trailing slash is omitted, rsync copies the source directory inside the destination directory.

rsync <options> <src> <dest>

How to install rsync command?

To install rsync on linux or ubuntu:

# Install Rsync on Ubuntu and Debian
sudo apt install rsync

# Install Rsync on CentOS and Fedora
sudo yum install rsync

# install rsync on mac using brew
brew install rsync

# install rsync on mac using port
sudo port install rsync 

How to copy a file from one to other location on local machine?

To copy file from one to other location on local maching using rsync use following commands:

# copy laravel.log file from /var/log directory to /tmp directory
# If the destination directory doesn’t exist, rsync will create it.
rsync -a /var/log/laravel.log /tmp/

How to copy a file from local to remote location?

rsync must be installed on both the source and the destination machine in order for sync to work. Let's look at following example that copies file from local machine to remote machine:

# copy laravel.log file from /var/log directory to /tmp directory on remote server
rsync -a /var/log/laravel/ user@remote_host_or_ip:/tmp/

# copy laravel.log file from /var/log directory to /tmp directory on remote server
# specify port if it is different than 22
rsync -a -e "ssh -p 2322" /var/log/laravel/ user@remote_host_or_ip:/tmp/

rsync ignore files or directories when syncing

Sometimes you may not want certain files to be copied or synced. In that case you can use following flag to exclude certain files or directories.

# copy contents of src/ dir to dest/ directory exclude node_modules dir and tmp directory
rsync -a --exclude=node_modules --exclude=tmp /src/ /dest/

# create a file called /exclude-file.txt and add name of the directories you want to exclude

# use following command to specify file that ignores different directories
rsync -a --exclude-from='/exclude-file.txt' /src/ /dest/

More Examples

Command Description
rsync -zvh db.tar.gz /tmp/backups/ sync a single file on a local machine from one location to another location
rsync -avzh /root/bkp /tmp/backups/ sync all the files from one directory to a different directory
rsync -avzh /root/bkp root@IP:/tmp/ sync a directory from a local machine to a remote machine
rsync -avzh root@IP:/tmp /tmp/ sync a remote directory to a local directory
rsync -avzhe ssh root@IP:/tmp/*.log /tmp Copy a file from a Remote Server to a Local Server with SSH
rsync -avzhe ssh /tmp/*.log root@IP:/tmp/ Copy a file from a Local Server to a Remote Server with SSH
rsync -avz --delete root@IP:/tmp/ /tmp/ If a file or directory does 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.

Options Summary

Option Summary
-v, --verbose increase verbosity
-q, --quiet suppress non-error messages
-c, --checksum skip based on checksum, not mod-time & size
-a, --archive archive mode
-r, --recursive recurse into directories
-R, --relative use relative path names
-b, --backup make backups
-u, --update skip files that are newer on the receiver
-d, --dirs transfer directories without recursing
-l, --links copy symlinks as symlinks
-L, --copy-links transform symlink into referent file/dir
-H, --hard-links preserve hard links
-p, --perms preserve permissions
-E, --executability preserve executability
-A, --acls preserve ACLs (implies -p)
-t, --times preserve modification times
-z, --compress compress file data during the transfer
--exclude=PATTERN exclude files matching PATTERN
--exclude-from=FILE read exclude patterns from FILE
-h, --help show help