Linux: Sync Across Machines, rsync

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

rsync is a command line util that lets you do one-way copying/updating from one machine to another.

The remote machine must also have rsync installed. (it's installed by default in linux)

rsync -z -a -v -t --rsh="ssh -l joe" ~/web/ joe@example.org:~/

This will copy the local dir ~/web/ to the remote dir ~/ on the machine with domain name “example.org”, using login “joe” via the ssh protocol.

Here's what the options mean:

-a
Archived mode, basically making the file's meta data (owner/perm/timestamp) same as the local file (when possible) and do recursive (i.e. Upload the whole dir).
-z
Use compression for transmission. (compress files first, transmit, uncompress. This saves bandwidth.)
-v
Verbose mode. Print out which files is being updated.
-t
Copy timestamp from source to destination. If you don't, rsync will basically update every file. Timestamp is used by rsync to check if file's been updated. -a implies -t.

For example, here's what i use to sync/upload my website on my local machine to my server.

rsync -z -a -v -t --exclude="*~"  --exclude=".DS_Store" --exclude=".bash_history"  --exclude="*/_curves_robert_yates/*.png" --exclude="logs/*"  --exclude="xlogs/*" --delete --rsh="ssh -l joe" ~/web/ joe@example.com:~/
--exclude=glob_pattern
Ignore file names that matches glob_pattern in source directory. (i.e. If it matches, don't upload it, nor delete it on remote server) For example, *.javac means all files ending in .javac
--delete
If a file/dir in destination is not in source directory, delete it.

Here's a example of syncing Windows and Mac.

rsync -z -r -v --delete --rsh="ssh -l xah" ~/web/ xah@169.254.125.147:~/web/

Note that -r is used instead of -a. The -r means recursive, all sub directories and files. Don't use -a because that will sync file owner, group, permissions, and others, but because Windows and unix have different permission systems and file systems, so -a is usually not what you want.

[see Linux: File Permission System]

Reverse Direction

Here's a example of reverse direction.

rsync -z -a -v -t --rsh="ssh -l joe" joe@example.org:~/web/ ~/

This will get everything from the remote machine, to local machine.

Two-way Synchronize with Unison

How to Use Unison for Syncing Files (Unison tutorial)

Downloading a Entire Website

Linux: Download Website: wget, curl

Compare Directories

[see Linux: Compare Files or Directory: diff]

Linux Shell Basics

Sys Admin

Bash/Terminal

Linux Desktop