Moving files using Rsync command

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Rsync (Remote Sync) is a most commonly used command for copying and synchronizing files and directories remotely as well as locally in Linux systems. It efficiently copies and synchornizes files from the host machine to destination one.

It’s faster than SCP (Secure Copy) because Rsync uses the remote-update protocol, take a snapshot and enable to compress files before transferring. At the first step, it copies the whole content of a file or a directory from source to destination and then, it copies only the changed blocks and bytes to the destination.

Some of the interesting features of Rsync are:

  • Supports all permissions of links, devices, owners and groups.
  • Uses any transparent remote shell, including SSH or RSH
  • Does not require super-user privileges.
  • pipelining of file transfers to minimize latency costs.
  • support for anonymous or authenticated Rsync daemons (ideal for mirroring)

Install Rsync

Rsync installed with many Linux distributions but to check whether Rsync is installed on your machine or not, execute the following command:

rsync -version

If you can see the version of Rsync on your Linux machine (Ubuntu), it means Rsync is already installed.

Otherwise, you need to install it manually in just a minute by using this simple following command:

apt-get install rsync

Basic Rsync Syntax

The basic syntax for Rsync works simply as follow:

rsync [optional modifiers] [SRC] [DEST]
  • [optional modifiers] indicate the actions to be taken
  • [SRC] is the source directory
  • [DEST] is the destination directory

Basic Syntax for Remote Shell

The Rsync syntax for using a remote shell will be slightly different.

rsync [optional modifiers] [USER@]HOST:SRC[DEST] [DEST]

Rsync options:

Some of the commonly important used options in rsync command are listed below:

  • -v, –Verbose output
  • -q, –quiet suppress message output
  • -a, –archive files and directory while synchronizing
  • -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 file data during the transfer
  • -h, –human-readable display the output numbers in a human-readable format
  • –progress, -show the sync progress during transferring

To read more about Rsync options, take a look at

Let’s jump into the useful and amazing examples of Rsync command.

Rsync Practical Examples

Example-1) Copy files & directories recursively

Sometimes you need to transfer all files and directories of one directory, the option of -r is the best Rsync options for you, we call it, "recursively". either use -a or -r option to copy files and directories recursively. In rsync command -a option is used for archiving during the copy or sync 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

Assume we need to copy all files in "singles" directory at Digits remote Linux computer to the current folder at the destination.

[root@gateway ~]# rsync -zrvh .
[root@gateway ~]# rsync -zavh .

Let's look at the options used:

  • -z, –compress file data during the transfer
  • -v, –Verbose output
  • -h, –display the output numbers

Example-2) Display Synchronization progress in Rsync command output

If you want to see the sync or copy progress in rsync command then use “–progress

[root@gateway ~]# rsync -avh --progress /tmp
root@'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)

sent 484 bytes  received 16.38M bytes  3.64M bytes/sec
total size is 16.37M  speedup is 1.00
[maryam@digits ~]#

Example-3) Resume large file transfer after getting failed in SCP

There are some scenarios in Linux admin profile 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 Note: After a failure experience of using SCP, Rsync can continue the coping accurately and even faster. in other words, rsync can synchronize the files and transfer the files which are partially copied using scp command.

[maryam@digits ~]# scp /plant_images
Canola2021.jpg   100% 97MB 00:00
Canola2020.jpg   100% 67MB 00:00
$ connection reset by port 22

"connection reset" is a funny error made me finding the rsync command to transfer the files which are partially copied using SCP command.

[root@gateway ~]# rsync -P --rsh=ssh /plant_images

Canola2021.jpg   100% 97MB 00:00
Canola2020.jpg   100% 67MB 00:00
Canola20211.jpg  100% 70MB 00:00
Canola20201.jpg  100% 60MB 00:00
  1,921,843,200 100%   18.47MB/s    0:01:39 (xfr#1, to-chk=0/1)
[root@gateway ~]#

Here you go, you can simply transfer your files and make sure all directories are synced and the transferring job is already done quite well.

Example-4)Put a limit on file transfer size (–max-size)

If you don’t want to transfer or copy the large files (for example, you don't want to transfer files more than 2MB), then use the option ‘–max-size={specify-size-here}’. In our example, we should write ‘–max-size=2M’.

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

[root@gateway ~]# rsync -P --max-size='2M' /plant_images


In this post, I was trying to explain Rsync Linux command simply and practically. It was short but completely practical if you have to transfer a huge number of images from a remote Linux system, like me, and face some unexpected errors like "connection reset" or some errors like it. I hope you found it useful additionally, I hope this post can make you happy when you can move many files in a short time without any error or interruptions.

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