Software & Apps Linux How to Use 'rsync' to Copy Files and Folders in Linux Use these 'rsync' examples to learn how to copy from the command line by Juergen Haas Writer Former Lifewire writer Juergen Haas is a software developer, data scientist, and a fan of the Linux operating system. our editorial process Juergen Haas Updated on January 30, 2020 Linux Switching from Windows Tweet Share Email Copy directories and files using the rsync file-transfer program for Linux. The command includes additional options beyond customary copy functions. One of the more useful features of rsync is that it excludes files in a systematic way. As such, it backs up files intended for archiving while avoiding everything else. erhui1979 / Getty Images Command Syntax Using the rsync command properly requires that you follow the correct syntax: rsync [OPTION]... [SRC]... [DEST]rsync [OPTION]... [SRC]... [USER@]HOST:DESTrsync [OPTION]... [SRC]... [USER@]HOST::DESTrsync [OPTION]... [SRC]... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/DESTrsync [OPTION]... [USER@]HOST:SRC [DEST]rsync [OPTION]... [USER@]HOST::SRC [DEST]rsync [OPTION]... rsync://[USER@]HOST[:PORT]/SRC [DEST] Some commonly used option switches include: -v, --verbose: Increase verbosity (provides more details about what the command is doing).--info=FLAGS: Provides detailed informational messages.--debug=FLAGS: Provides detailed debug messages.--msgs2stderr: Special output handling for debugging.-q, --quiet: Suppresses non-error messages.--no-motd: Suppresses daemon-mode message of the day.-c, --checksum: Skips files based on checksum, not mod-time and size. -r, --recursive: Browse into sub-directories for additional files.-b, --backup: Make backups.--backup-dir=DIR: Make backups into a matching directory hierarchy.--suffix=SUFFIX: Adds suffix text to the end of backed up files.-d, --dirs: Transfer only directories without browsing inside of them. Command Examples Use rsync with some of those options to fine-tune your backup strategy. Selective Copying Based on File Type rsync /home/jon/Desktop/data/*.jpg /home/jon/Desktop/backupdata/ In this example, all of the JPG files from the /data/ folder copy to the /backupdata/ folder on the user Jon's Desktop folder. Copying Files Based on Size rsync --max-size=2k /home/jon/Desktop/data/ /home/jon/Desktop/backupdata/ This rsync example is a bit more complicated since it's set up to not copy files if they're larger than 2,048 KB. It only copies files smaller than the specified size. Use k, m, or g to indicate kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes in the 1,024 multiplier, or kb, mb, or gb to use 1,000. rsync --min-size=30mb /home/jon/Desktop/data/ /home/jon/Desktop/backupdata/ The same can be done for --min-size, too. In this example, rsync only copies files that are 30 MB or larger. rsync --min-size=30mb --progress /home/jon/Desktop/data/ /home/jon/Desktop/backupdata/ Use the --progress option to watch the process work up to 100 percent—handy when you're copying very large files. Copy Entire Folders rsync --recursive /home/jon/Desktop/data /home/jon/Desktop/data2 The --recursive option provides an easy way to copy an entire folder to a different location, like to the /data2/ folder in the example above. This command copies the entire folder and all of its contents to the new location. Exclude Certain Files rsync -r --exclude="*.deb" /home/jon/Desktop/data /home/jon/Desktop/backupdata Copy a whole folder but exclude files of a certain file extension, such as DEB files, in this example above. The whole /data/ folder is copied to /backupdata/ as in the previous example, but all DEB files are excluded from the copy.