17 Useful Rsync Command Examples in Linux

This post explains 17 useful rsync command examples in Linux. These examples will empower you to manage your data effortlessly in a Linux environment.

Rsync Command

In the world of Linux, when it comes to efficiently synchronizing and transferring data between local and remote systems, Rsync stands as a powerhouse utility. Rsync, short for “remote sync,” is a versatile tool that not only simplifies file synchronization but also optimizes data transfers. It works on “delta transfer algorithm”, means it will only sync or copy the changes from source to destination instead of copying the whole file which ultimately reduce amount of data sent over network.

Additionally, it uses remote shell like SSH while synchronizing the files from local machine to remote machine and any user in the system can use rsync command as it does not require root or sudo privileges.

Rsync Installation

Rsync command is available for all UNIX and Linux like operating systems. When we do minimal installation of RHEL based distros then rsync package is not part of default installation, so to install rsync, run

$ sudo dnf install rsync -y

For Debian Like operating Systems (Ubuntu & Linux Mint) use below apt command to install rysnc tool,

$ sudo apt install rsync -y

Syntax of Rsync Command

  • Local Sync: # rsync {options} {Source} {Destination}
  • Remote Sync pull: # rsync {options}  <User_Name>@<Remote-Host>:<Source-File-Dir>  <Destination>
  • Remote Sync Push: # rsync  <Options>  <Source-Files-Dir>   <User_Name>@<Remote-Host>:<Destination>

Options in rsync command

  • -v, –verbose                             Verbose output
  • -q, –quiet                                 suppress message output
  • -a, –archive                              archive files and directory while synchronizing ( -a equal to following options -rlptgoD)
  • -r, –recursive                            sync files and directories recursively
  • -b, –backup                              take the backup during synchronization
  • -u, –update                              don’t copy the files from source to destination if destination files are newer
  • -l, –links                                   copy symlinks as symlinks during the sync
  • -n, –dry-run                             perform a trial run without synchronization
  • -e, –rsh=COMMAND               mention the remote shell to use in rsync
  • -z, –compress                          compress file data during the transfer
  • -h, –human-readable              display the output numbers in a human-readable format
  • –progress                                show the sync progress during transfer

Let’s jump into the useful examples of rsync command

1) Basic Local Copy

Let’s assume we want to copy a file from user’s home directory to /opt/back folder, run

# rsync -zvh /home/pkumar/OpenStack-Networking.pdf /opt/backup
sent 4.09M bytes  received 35 bytes  2.73M bytes/sec
total size is 6.15M  speedup is 1.50

In above we have used the options like -z for compression, -v for verbose output and -h for human readable output.

2) Copy / Sync Directory Locally

Assume we want to copy user’s home directory to /opt/backup folder, execute beneath command

# rsync -zavh /home/pkumar /opt/backup
sending incremental file list

sent 4.09M bytes  received 96 bytes  8.19M bytes/sec
total size is 6.15M  speedup is 1.50


Let’s verify whether directory is copied or not, execute below ls command

# ls -ld /opt/backup/*
-rwx------. 1 root   root   6153239 Apr  7 00:25 /opt/backup/OpenStack-Networking.pdf
drwx------. 2 pkumar pkumar      90 Apr  7 00:25 /opt/backup/pkumar

As we can see “pkumar” directory is created on destination folder and its contents are also copied.

Note: In above example if use trail / after source folder like ‘/home/pkumar/’ then rsync command will not create pkumar directory on destination but it will copy the content only.

# rsync -zavh /home/pkumar/ /opt/backup

3) Copy Files & Directories Recursively Locally

Using the option like -a or -r, it can copy files and directories recursively.

Note : In rsync command -a option is used for archiving during the copy and apart from archiving -a option is also used for followings:

  • recursively copy files and directory
  • copy symlinks as symlinks
  • preserve permissions
  • preserve group
  • preserve modification time
  • preserve ownership
# rsync -zrvh /home/pkumar /opt/backup
# rsync -zavh /home/pkumar /opt/backup


4) Copy Files From Local to Remote System

Let’s suppose we want to copy the folder “/home/pkumar/techi” from local machine to remote machine ( under the /opt folder.

# rsync -zavh /home/pkumar/techi [email protected]:/opt
[email protected]'s password:


sent 21.36M bytes received 47.95K bytes 1.48M bytes/sec
total size is 169.29M speedup is 7.91

Rsync Local Files to remote system

5) Copy Files From Remote System to Local

Pull files from a remote server to your local machine:

# rsync -av user@remote:/path/to/source /path/to/destination

Let’s suppose we want to copy /opt/rpms_db from remote system ( to our local system under /tmp folder.

# rsync -zavh [email protected]:/opt/rpms_db /tmp
[email protected]'s password:
receiving incremental file list

sent 104 bytes received 620.94K bytes 248.42K bytes/sec
total size is 665.76K speedup is 1.07


Above command will automatically create a folder “rpms_db” under the /tmp folder in our local machine.

# ls -l /tmp/
total 8
-rwx------. 1 root root  827 Apr  6 12:54 ks-script-avmuxw
drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Apr  7 01:42 rpms_db
-rw-------. 1 root root    0 Apr  6 12:35 yum.log
# ls -l /tmp/rpms_db/
total 16028
total 656
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root 43721 Oct 2 18:51 nginx-1.20.1-14.el9.x86_64.rpm
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root 589537 Oct 2 18:51 nginx-core-1.20.1-14.el9.x86_64.rpm
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root 13616 Oct 2 18:51 nginx-filesystem-1.20.1-14.el9.noarch.rpm
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root 18891 Oct 2 18:51 redhat-logos-httpd-90.4-1.el9.noarch.rpm

6) Copying Files Across SSH

Rsync seamlessly integrates with SSH for secure remote file transfers. Use the following syntax:

# rsync -zavh -e ssh /path/to/source user@remote:/path/to/destination


# rsync -zavh -e ssh  [email protected]:/opt/rpms_db  /tmp
[email protected]'s password:
receiving incremental file list

sent 484 bytes  received 15.45M bytes  1.82M bytes/sec
total size is 16.37M  speedup is 1.06

If your SSH server uses a non-default port, specify it with the -e option:

# rsync -av -e 'ssh -p 2222' /path/to/source user@remote:/path/to/destination

7) Show Progress During Transfer

Use “–progress” to display a progress bar to visualize the status of the file transfer:

# rsync -avh --progress /path/to/source /path/to/destination


# rsync -avh --progress [email protected]:/opt/rpms_db /tmp
[email protected]'s password:
receiving incremental file list
          2.84M 100%   35.22MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#6, to-chk=18/25)
         92.50K 100%    1.13MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#7, to-chk=17/25)
          2.56M 100%   14.44MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#17, to-chk=7/25)
        696.47K 100%    3.71MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#19, to-chk=5/25)
          5.07M 100%   19.90MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#20, to-chk=4/25)
        210.98K 100%  844.42kB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#21, to-chk=3/25)
        167.51K 100%  667.70kB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#22, to-chk=2/25)
        458.38K 100%    1.77MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#23, to-chk=1/25)
        282.33K 100%    1.09MB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#24, to-chk=0/25)

sent 484 bytes  received 16.38M bytes  3.64M bytes/sec
total size is 16.37M  speedup is 1.00

8) Copy Directory Structure Without Copying Files

There are some scenarios where we want to copy the exact directory structure from local machine to remote or vice versa without copying the files.

Suppose we want to copy the directory structure of “/home/pkumar” from local machine to remote machine ( under /opt folder.

# rsync -av -f"+ */" -f"- *" /home/pkumar [email protected]:/opt/
[email protected]'s password:
building file list ... done

sent 43 bytes  received 19 bytes  17.71 bytes/sec
total size is 0  speedup is 0.00

9) Resume Large File Transfer After Getting Failed in SCP

There could be some scenarios in day to dat tasks where we have started copying a larger file using scp command, but it got terminated in the middle and we can’t afford to start copying it again using scp because of its large size and time consumption.

So, in this situation rsync command can used as it can start copying the file from where it left off or terminated, or in other words rsync can transfer the files which are partially copied using scp command. Example is shown below,

# scp [email protected]:/root/ubuntu-22.04-desktop-amd64.iso /opt
[email protected]'s password:
ubuntu-22.04-desktop-amd64.iso                   28%  526MB  61.5MB/s   00:21 ETA
^CKilled by signal 2.
# rsync -P --rsh=ssh [email protected]:/root/ubuntu-22.04-desktop-amd64.iso /opt
[email protected]'s password:
  1,921,843,200 100%   18.47MB/s    0:01:39 (xfr#1, to-chk=0/1)

10) Delete Files at Destination If Not Present in Source

Remove files at the destination that no longer exist in the source, use –delete option in rsyn command

# rsync -avz --delete /opt/rpms_db [email protected]:/tmp/rpms_db
[email protected]'s password:
sending incremental file list
deleting rpms_db/apr-util-1.5.2-6.el7.x86_64.rpm
deleting rpms_db/apr-1.4.8-3.el7_4.1.x86_64.rpm

sent 862 bytes  received 105 bytes  276.29 bytes/sec
total size is 15,947,152  speedup is 16,491.37

11) Put Limit on File Transfer Size

If you don’t want to transfer or copy the large files using rsync then use the option ‘–max-size={specify-size-here}’, let’s assume we don’t we don’t want to transfer the files whose size is more than 500K,

Note: To specify the size in MB use M and for GB use G.

# rsync -avz --max-size='500K' /opt/rpms_db [email protected]:/tmp

12) Synchronize Only Modified Files

Rsync excels at efficiently transferring only modified files using –update or -u option.

# rsync -av --update /path/to/source /path/to/destination


# rsync -av --update  /home/pkumar/techi [email protected]:/opt/techi

13) Remove Files From Source After Synchronization

Let’s suppose you want to delete files from source once the synchronization is completed using rsync command. In the example below, folder from local system “/home/pkumar/techi.tgz” is synced to remote system (, once the synchronization is completed, it will be deleted from the source.

# rsync --remove-source-files -zvh /home/pkumar/techi.tgz [email protected]:/opt
[email protected]'s password:
sent 597 bytes  received 43 bytes  182.86 bytes/sec
total size is 518  speedup is 0.81
# ls -l /home/pkumar/techi.tgz
ls: cannot access /home/pkumar/techi.tgz: No such file or directory

14) Perform a Dry Run

Preview the changes that rsync will make without actually copying anything:

# rsync -av --dry-run /path/to/source /path/to/destination


# rsync --dry-run -zvh /home/pkumar/projects.tar [email protected]:/opt
[email protected]'s password:

sent 51 bytes  received 19 bytes  7.37 bytes/sec
total size is 981.24M  speedup is 14,017,682.29 (DRY RUN)

15) Include And Exclude files During Copy

In some situations where we want to copy or sync files & directories of specific type and want to exclude files of specific type. Rsync command supports both include and exclude options.

Below example is copying the files of type pdf and rpm and exclude png file types.

# rsync -avz -e ssh --include '*.pdf *.rpm' --exclude '*.png' /home/pkumar/techi [email protected]:/opt
[email protected]'s password:
sending incremental file list

sent 9,469,912 bytes  received 96 bytes  2,705,716.57 bytes/sec
total size is 11,647,907  speedup is 1.23

16) Limit Bandwidth Usage

In rsync command we can set the bandwidth limit for data transfer from one machine to another usin ‘–bwlimit=<KB/S>‘ option.

Assume we want to set maximum data transfer rate (speed) is 600 KB/s with rsync, example is shown below:

# rsync -avz --progress --bwlimit=600 /home/pkumar/techi [email protected]:/opt
[email protected]'s password:
sending incremental file list
6,153,239 100%  910.02kB/s    0:00:06 (xfr#1, to-chk=6/8)
2,844,028 100%  615.28kB/s    0:00:04 (xfr#2, to-chk=5/8)
92,504 100%  507.51kB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#3, to-chk=4/8)
0 100%    0.00kB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#4, to-chk=3/8)
0 100%    0.00kB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#5, to-chk=2/8)
0 100%    0.00kB/s    0:00:00 (xfr#6, to-chk=1/8)
2,558,136 100%  594.80kB/s    0:00:04 (xfr#7, to-chk=0/8)

sent 9,470,087 bytes  received 153 bytes  485,653.33 bytes/sec
total size is 11,647,907  speedup is 1.23

17) View the Difference Between Source and Destination

Use -i option in rsync command to list the difference in files and directories between source and destination. Example is shown below

# rsync -avzi /home/pkumar/techi [email protected]:/opt
[email protected]'s password:
sending incremental file list
.d..t...... techi/
<f.st...... techi/projects.txt

sent 438 bytes  received 45 bytes  138.00 bytes/sec
total size is 11,648,064  speedup is 24,116.07

Above output shows that there is a difference in file called “projects.txt” on destination. Following keywords are used in the output,

  • d: indicates change in destination file
  • f: indicates a file
  • t: indicates change in timestamps
  • s: indicates change in size

Additonal Examples

Copy Sparse Files Efficiently

Handle sparse files efficiently with the –sparse option:

# rsync -av --sparse /path/to/source /path/to/destination

Schedule Periodic Sync with Cron

Automate periodic synchronization with cron jobs:

0 2 * * * rsync -av /path/to/source /path/to/destination


Rsync is a remarkable tool that simplifies data synchronization and transfer in Linux, offering a plethora of options and capabilities. These 17 Rsync command examples provide you with a solid foundation for managing your data efficiently. Whether you need to back up your files, synchronize directories, or optimize data transfers, Rsync empowers you to do so with ease in a Linux environment. Incorporate these commands into your toolbox, and you’ll become a master of data synchronization in no time.

Also Read : Tar Command in Linux with Practical Examples

Also Read: How to Rotate and Compress Log Files in Linux with Logrotate

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I am a Cloud Consultant with over 15 years of experience in Linux, Kubernetes, cloud technologies (AWS, Azure, OpenStack), automation (Ansible, Terraform), and DevOps. I hold certifications like RHCA, CKA, CKAD, CKS, AWS, and Azure.

9 thoughts on “17 Useful Rsync Command Examples in Linux”

  1. I was looking for a way to copy a folder with files worth 155 GB in Linux. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for taking the time to write this article with detailed examples.

  2. Please be advised that the -z flag for compression only compresses the files during the transfer and then uncompresses them at the destination, so it’s totally unnecessary when using rsync locally or even inside a gigabit network.

  3. I have used rsync for years and always avoided using -z for copies on the same system.
    I have assumed compressing it then uncompressing it would only add CPU overhead since the limiting factors would be the read and write speeds of the disk(-s) involved. Am I missing something?

    • Hi Jacob,

      You are correct when we are dealing with large file or huge file.Rsync with -z option can add CPU overhead.

  4. If you want to sync your site on another server do this:
    Notice the slash at the end of path
    rsync -zarvh -P /var/www/sire.com root@{Remote-Server-IP-Address}:/var/www/


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