The rsync command in Linux stands for remote sync.

Generally, we use rsync to perform the backup process in Linux/UNIX.

Linux utility rsync is very powerful to synchronize files and directories from one location to another.

Now, let’s discuss on 15 practical uses of rsync command:

Example 1 – Synchronize two directories in the same system

It is the primary use of rsync command, and to perform this operation just using rsync command with “-zvr” option like below:

$ rsync –zvr /home/linuxconcept/newweb/ /var/www/linuxconcept/
building file list … done
sent 23452 bytes        received 1023 bytes           563423.00 bytes/sec
total size is 34233           speedup is 1.32

In the above example we use three options:
• -z we use to enable compression
• -v is for run command in verbose mode
• -r is used to recursive execution of the command

Now we can check the timestamp for both the files copied and source; you can see both file’s timestamp is different is not preserve timestamps during sync.

$ ls –l  /home/linuxconcept/newweb/index.html  /var/www/linuxconcept/index.html
– r – – r – – r – – 1   bin   bin   949   Sep  18  2018  /home/linuxconcept/newweb/index.html
– r – – r – – r – – 1   bin   bin   949   Apr  13  2019  /var/www/linuxconcept/index.html

Example 2 – Using rsync –a to preserve timestamp

The rsync command use with an option “-a” to run command in archive mode. This option does all the following

• Recursive mode operation
• Preserves timestamp during sync
• Preserves Permissions during sync
• Preserver Owner and Group settings
• Preserves symbolic links, if have

Now, we execute the same previous command with “-a” option, as shown below:

$ rsync –zva /home/linuxconcept/newweb/ /var/www/linuxconcept/
building file list … done
sent 23452 bytes       received 1023 bytes       563423.00 bytes/sec
total size is 34233      speedup is 1.32

Now we can see the timestamp for both the files

– r – – r – – r – – 1  bin  bin  949  Sep  18  2018  /home/linuxconcept/newweb/index.html
– r – – r – – r – – 1  bin  bin  949  Sep  18  2018  /var/www/linuxconcept/index.html

Example 3 – rsync use to synchronize only one file

We can use rsync command to copy one file also, as shown below:

$ rsync –v /etc/ssl/linuxconcept/pubkeys /home/linuxconcept/pubkeys

sent 56 bytes       received 24321 bytes      3456.14 bytes/sec
total size is 12288        speedup is 0.76

Example 4 – rsync also use to synchronize files from local system to remote system

The rsync command allows us to synchronize files/directories between local and remote system.

$ rsync -avz  /root/temp/   [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/temp/
building file list … done

sent 15815561 bytes          received 452 bytes          2425411.23 bytes/sec
total size is 45024658          speedup is 2.17

We are doing file synchronization with remote server/system, we need to specify the remote system IP and username to login on the remote system and specify the location on the remote system to sync file in the particular location.
As you can see in the above example, it asks for a password to login on the remote system.

Sometimes we don’t want to enter a password and execute the same command from a script when we want to perform the backup operation and schedule it for automation.

To perform rsync without password, you need to set up ssh passwordless login.

Example 5 – Use rsync command to synchronize files from remote system to local system.

This is similar to previous one, here we specify the remote path into source and local system path into destination.

$ rsync -avz  [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/satish   /root/temp
receiving file list … done
sent 426 bytes         received 1565230 bytes           2437635.54 bytes/sec
total size is 45345658       speedup is 2.37

Example 6 – Specify remote shell into rsync

The rsync utility allows specifying the remote shell into a command which you want to use. Like the below example we use ssh to enable the secure connection with a remote system.

You can use “-e” option to specify the shell in the command, as shown below:

$ rsync -avz -e ssh  [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/satish  /root/temp
receiving file list … done

sent 416 bytes      received 15345230 bytes     2145605.54 bytes/sec
total size is 45672858      speedup is 2.37

Example 7 – Use rsync without overwriting in destination

In general, if the files are modified in the destination location, we don’t want to overwrite those files.

To prevent files from overwriting you can use the “-u” option. In the below example you can see the file abc.txt is already modified, So it will not be overwritten while using rsync –u command.

$ ls -l   /root/temp/abc.txt
total 39088
-rwxr-xr-x 1   root  root  4096  Oct  2  11:35   abc.txt

$ rsync -avzu   [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/satish  /root/temp
receiving file list … done

sent 112 bytes       received 535 bytes       104.00 bytes/sec
total size is 45603558        speedup is 34258.31

$ ls -lrt
total 39088
-rwxr-xr-x 1   root   root   4096   Oct  2  11:35   abc.txt

Example 8 – During rsync show progress

To show the progress on the terminal while transferring files from one system to another system using “- -progress” option. It will display the file name which is currently transfer and remaining time to transfer.

$ rsync -avzhe ssh –progress /home/linuxconcept  [email protected]:/root/rpmpkgs
sending  incremental  file  list
created directory /root/rpmpkgs
rpmpkgs/httpd-2.2.3-82.el5.centos.i386.rpm   1.02M   100%  2.72MB/s   0:00:00 (xfer#1, to-check=3/5)
rpmpkgs/mod_ssl-2.2.3-82.el5.centos.i386.rpm   99.04K  100%   241.19kB/s  0:00:00 (xfer#2, to-check=2/5)
rpmpkgs/nagios-3.3.0.tar.gz   1.72M   100%   1.06MB/s   0:00:01 (xfer#3, to-check=1/5)
rpmpkgs/nagios-plugins-1.3.16.tar.gz  2.09M   100%   1.27MB/s   0:00:01 (xfer#4, to-check=0/5)

sent 4.79M bytes       received 94 bytes       465.56K bytes/sec
total size is 4.99M          speedup is 1.00

Example 9 – Delete files in the destination

Sometimes we use rsync command to create a replica of any application, and in this case, we want to make destination directory exact similar to the source directory.

In this case, if some of the files are in the destination directory but not in the source directory, we wanted to delete them automatically.

To perform this operation you can use “- – delete” option like shown below:

$ touch  testing.txt
$ rsync  –avz   – -delete     [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/    .
receiving file list . . . done
deleting testing.txt
sent 24 bytes           received 340 bytes      48.64 bytes/sec
total size is 45678234        speedup is 10872.34

Example 10 – Specify max file size with rsync command

You can also specify the maximum file size to be transferred while using rsync utility. To determine the maximum file size you can use “- -max-size” option in rsync command.

$ rsync  –avzhe ssh  – -max-size=’400k’    /home/linuxconcept/satish/   [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/tmp 
sending incremental file list
create directory /home/linuxconcept/tmp

sent 168.45K bytes          received 234 bytes          14.20K bytes/sec
total size is 34.06M            speedup is 134.43

Example 11 – Delete source files after successful execution of rsync

Suppose you are taking backup your production data every day on your production server and transferring on the local system using rsync and don’t want to keep after that copying into the local system.

In this case, we can delete the source file automatically after copying data to the local system. To perform this operation, you can use “- -remove-source-files’ option.

$rsync  –zvh  – -remove-sourc-files web-backup.tar    /home/linuxconcept/backups/

sent 13.24M bytes received 36 bytes 4.02M bytes/sec
total size is 24.36M speedup is 1.34

$ ll webbackup.tar
ls: webbackup.tar: No such file or directory

Example 12 – Files include and exclude in rsync

The rsync command gives the option to include and exclude files or directories while doing synchronization.

In the below example, we include only files or directories starting with ‘S’ using “- -include” option and exclude all other files using “- -exclude” option.

$ rsync –avz – -include ‘S*’ – -exclude ‘*’ [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/
receving file list . . . done

sent 234 bytes      received 10625780 bytes     23456718.73 bytes/sec
total size is 42356718       speedup is 2.45

Example 13 – Set bandwidth while synchronizing

You can use “- -bwlimit” option to set and utilize network bandwidth during file transfer using rsync command.

This option is used to limit the input and output network bandwidth over the network.

$ rsync –avz – -bwlimit=100   /home/satish/tmp/   [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/ 
sending incremental file list

sent 314 bytes        received 14 bytes     43.35 bytes/sec
total size is 24.03M       speedup is 523456.05

Example 14 – Synchronize Whole files using

The rsync we use for its best feature is that it synchronizes only the changed block to the destination, instead of sending the whole file.

If you don’t have a network bandwidth issue and having enough CPU to do the process for a long time, you can use the “-W” option for transfer whole files.

$rsync –avzW  [email protected]:/home/linuxconcept/  /home/satish/linuxconcept
receiving file list . . . done

sent 403 bytes       received 1452670 bytes     8.62 bytes/sec
total size is 42567812       speedup is 2.38

Example 15 – Dry Run option for rsync

After running of rsync job, doing an undo can be a tedious job. If anything gets mess up with rsync, it is difficult to move on the previous state.

So, there is an option to run rsync command with “- -dry-run” option where it executes to show what will happen if this command will execute.

Use of this option will not make any changes on source or destination and show the output similar to the actual execution of the command. You can test the command using the “- -dry-run” option and remove this option and execute the command when you satisfy with output.

$ rsync –avz – -dry-run – -remove-source-files webbackup.tar     /home/linuxconcept/backup

sent 32 bytes     received 16 bytes     101.00 bytes/sec
total size is 12.12M     speed is 324567.00 (DRY RUN)

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