a fast, versatile, remote (and local) file-copying tool
This is equivalent to -rlptgoD. It is a quick way of saying you want recursion and want to
preserve almost everything (with -H being a notable omission). The only exception to the above
equivalence is when --files-from is specified, in which case -r is not implied.
Note that -a does not preserve hardlinks, because finding multiply-linked files is expensive. You
must separately specify -H.
Output numbers in a more human-readable format. This makes big numbers output using larger units,
with a K, M, or G suffix. If this option was specified once, these units are K (1000), M
(1000*1000), and G (1000*1000*1000); if the option is repeated, the units are powers of 1024
instead of 1000.
With this option rsync’s delta-transfer 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 destination machines is higher than the bandwidth to disk (especially when the "disk" is
actually a networked filesystem). This is the default when both the source and destination are
specified as local paths, but only if no batch-writing option is in effect.
Local: rsync [OPTION...] SRC... [DEST]
Access via remote shell:
Pull: rsync [OPTION...] [USER@]HOST:SRC... [DEST]
Push: rsync [OPTION...] SRC... [USER@]HOST:DEST
Access via rsync daemon:
Pull: rsync [OPTION...] [USER@]HOST::SRC... [DEST]
rsync [OPTION...] rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/SRC... [DEST]
Push: rsync [OPTION...] SRC... [USER@]HOST::DEST
rsync [OPTION...] SRC... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/DEST
Requests a simple itemized list of the changes that are being made to each file, including
attribute changes. This is exactly the same as specifying --out-format='%i %n%L'. If you repeat
the option, unchanged files will also be output, but only if the receiving rsync is at least
version 2.6.7 (you can use -vv with older versions of rsync, but that also turns on the output of
other verbose messages).
The "%i" escape has a cryptic output that is 11 letters long. The general format is like the
string YXcstpoguax, where Y is replaced by the type of update being done, X is replaced by the
file-type, and the other letters represent attributes that may be output if they are being
The update types that replace the Y are as follows:
o A < means that a file is being transferred to the remote host (sent).
o A > means that a file is being transferred to the local host (received).
o A c means that a local change/creation is occurring for the item (such as the creation of a
directory or the changing of a symlink, etc.).
o A h means that the item is a hard link to another item (requires --hard-links).
o A . means that the item is not being updated (though it might have attributes that are
o A * means that the rest of the itemized-output area contains a message (e.g. "deleting").
The file-types that replace the X are: f for a file, a d for a directory, an L for a symlink, a D
for a device, and a S for a special file (e.g. named sockets and fifos).
The other letters in the string above are the actual letters that will be output if the associated
attribute for the item is being updated or a "." for no change. Three exceptions to this are: (1)
a newly created item replaces each letter with a "+", (2) an identical item replaces the dots with
spaces, and (3) an unknown attribute replaces each letter with a "?" (this can happen when talking
to an older rsync).
The attribute that is associated with each letter is as follows:
o A c means either that a regular file has a different checksum (requires --checksum) or that
a symlink, device, or special file has a changed value. Note that if you are sending files
to an rsync prior to 3.0.1, this change flag will be present only for checksum-differing
o A s means the size of a regular file is different and will be updated by the file transfer.
o A t means the modification time is different and is being updated to the sender’s value
(requires --times). An alternate value of T means that the modification time will be set
to the transfer time, which happens when a file/symlink/device is updated without --times
and when a symlink is changed and the receiver can’t set its time. (Note: when using an
rsync 3.0.0 client, you might see the s flag combined with t instead of the proper T flag
for this time-setting failure.)
o A p means the permissions are different and are being updated to the sender’s value
o An o means the owner is different and is being updated to the sender’s value (requires
--owner and super-user privileges).
o A g means the group is different and is being updated to the sender’s value (requires
--group and the authority to set the group).
o The u slot is reserved for future use.
o The a means that the ACL information changed.
o The x means that the extended attribute information changed.
One other output is possible: when deleting files, the "%i" will output the string "*deleting"
for each item that is being removed (assuming that you are talking to a recent enough rsync that
it logs deletions instead of outputting them as a verbose message).
This makes rsync perform a trial run that doesn’t make any changes (and produces mostly the same
output as a real run). It is most commonly used in combination with the -v, --verbose and/or -i,
--itemize-changes options to see what an rsync command is going to do before one actually runs it.
The output of --itemize-changes is supposed to be exactly the same on a dry run and a subsequent
real run (barring intentional trickery and system call failures); if it isn’t, that’s a bug.
Other output should be mostly unchanged, but may differ in some areas. Notably, a dry run does
not send the actual data for file transfers, so --progress has no effect, the "bytes sent", "bytes
received", "literal data", and "matched data" statistics are too small, and the "speedup" value is
equivalent to a run where no file transfers were needed.
This option allows you to add rules 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 --filter options on the command line as you like to build up the list of files
to exclude. If the filter contains whitespace, be sure to quote it so that the shell gives the
rule to rsync as a single argument. The text below also mentions that you can use an underscore
to replace the space that separates a rule from its arg.
See the FILTER RULES section for detailed information on this option.
This option causes rsync to set the owner of the destination file to be the same as the source
file, but only if the receiving rsync is being run as the super-user (see also the --super and
--fake-super options). Without this option, the owner of new and/or transferred files are set to
the invoking user on the receiving side.
The preservation of ownership will associate matching names by default, but may fall back to using
the ID number in some circumstances (see also the --numeric-ids option for a full discussion).
This option causes the receiving rsync to set the destination permissions to be the same as the
source permissions. (See also the --chmod option for a way to modify what rsync considers to be
the source permissions.)
When this option is off, permissions are set as follows:
o Existing files (including updated files) retain their existing permissions, though the
--executability option might change just the execute permission for the file.
o New files get their "normal" permission bits set to the source file’s permissions masked
with the receiving directory’s default permissions (either the receiving process’s umask,
or the permissions specified via the destination directory’s default ACL), and their
special permission bits disabled except in the case where a new directory inherits a setgid
bit from its parent directory.
Thus, when --perms and --executability are both disabled, rsync’s behavior is the same as that of
other file-copy utilities, such as cp(1) and tar(1).
In summary: to give destination files (both old and new) the source permissions, use --perms. To
give new files the destination-default permissions (while leaving existing files unchanged), make
sure that the --perms option is off and use --chmod=ugo=rwX (which ensures that all non-masked
bits get enabled). If you’d care to make this latter behavior easier to type, you could define a
popt alias for it, such as putting this line in the file ~/.popt (the following defines the -Z
option, and includes --no-g to use the default group of the destination dir):
rsync alias -Z --no-p --no-g --chmod=ugo=rwX
You could then use this new option in a command such as this one:
rsync -avZ src/ dest/
(Caveat: make sure that -a does not follow -Z, or it will re-enable the two "--no-*" options
The preservation of the destination’s setgid bit on newly-created directories when --perms is off
was added in rsync 2.6.7. Older rsync versions erroneously preserved the three special permission
bits for newly-created files when --perms was off, while overriding the destination’s setgid bit
setting on a newly-created directory. Default ACL observance was added to the ACL patch for rsync
2.6.7, so older (or non-ACL-enabled) rsyncs use the umask even if default ACLs are present. (Keep
in mind that it is the version of the receiving rsync that affects these behaviors.)
This tells rsync to copy directories recursively. See also --dirs (-d).
Beginning with rsync 3.0.0, the recursive algorithm used is now an incremental scan that uses much
less memory than before and begins the transfer after the scanning of the first few directories
have been completed. This incremental scan only affects our recursion algorithm, and does not
change a non-recursive transfer. It is also only possible when both ends of the transfer are at
least version 3.0.0.
Some options require rsync to know the full file list, so these options disable the incremental
recursion mode. These include: --delete-before, --delete-after, --prune-empty-dirs, and
--delay-updates. Because of this, the default delete mode when you specify --delete is now
--delete-during when both ends of the connection are at least 3.0.0 (use --del or --delete-during
to request this improved deletion mode explicitly). See also the --delete-delay option that is a
better choice than using --delete-after.
Incremental recursion can be disabled using the --no-inc-recursive option or its shorter --no-i-r
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 (or if --no-super was specified),
only groups that the invoking user on the receiving side is a member of will be preserved.
Without this option, the group is set to the default group of the invoking user on the receiving
The preservation of group information will associate matching names by default, but may fall back
to using the ID number in some circumstances (see also the --numeric-ids option for a full
This option allows you to choose an alternative remote shell program to use for communication
between the local and remote copies of rsync. Typically, rsync is configured to use ssh by
default, but you may prefer to use rsh on a local network.
If this option is used with [user@]host::module/path, then the remote shell COMMAND will be used
to run an rsync daemon on the remote host, and all data will be transmitted through that remote
shell connection, rather than through a direct socket connection to a running rsync daemon on the
remote host. See the section "USING RSYNC-DAEMON FEATURES VIA A REMOTE-SHELL CONNECTION" above.
Command-line arguments are permitted in COMMAND provided that COMMAND is presented to rsync as a
single argument. You must use spaces (not tabs or other whitespace) to separate the command and
args from each other, and you can use single- and/or double-quotes to preserve spaces in an
argument (but not backslashes). Note that doubling a single-quote inside a single-quoted string
gives you a single-quote; likewise for double-quotes (though you need to pay attention to which
quotes your shell is parsing and which quotes rsync is parsing). Some examples:
-e 'ssh -p 2234'
-e 'ssh -o "ProxyCommand nohup ssh firewall nc -w1 %h %p"'
(Note that ssh users can alternately customize site-specific connect options in their .ssh/config
You can also choose the remote shell program using the RSYNC_RSH environment variable, which
accepts the same range of values as -e.
See also the --blocking-io option which is affected by this option.
This option sends all filenames and most options to the remote rsync without allowing the remote
shell to interpret them. This means that spaces are not split in names, and any non-wildcard
special characters are not translated (such as ~, $, ;, &, etc.). Wildcards are expanded on the
remote host by rsync (instead of the shell doing it).
If you use this option with --iconv, the args related to the remote side will also be translated
from the local to the remote character-set. The translation happens before wild-cards are
expanded. See also the --files-from option.