Rsync - synchronizes files and directories from one location to another

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rsync[1] is a free software computer program for Unix systems which synchronizes files and directories from one location to another while minimizing data transfer using delta encoding when appropriate. An important feature of rsync not found in most similar programs/protocols is that the mirroring takes place with only one transmission in each direction.[2] [3]

rsync can copy or display directory contents and copy files, optionally using compression and recursion.

rsyncd, the rsync protocol daemon, uses the default TCP port of 873. rsync can also be used to synchronize local directories, or via a remote shell such as RSH or SSH. In the latter case, the rsync client executable must be installed on the near as well as the far host (the computer running the remote shell daemon). There also exists a utility called rdiff[4], which can be used for incremental backups.

The Mac OS X filesystem has a special version, rsyncX[5][6], which allow transferring resource forks. To run rsync on Microsoft Windows, the Cygwin package is necessary[7] to provide the expected system interfaces. A package combination is available that include rsync, cygwin, and an installer, making it easier and more familiar to Windows users[8].

There are several well written tutorials on using rsync[9][10][11][12]

If you are interested in fully automated, ssh-secured backups from one machine to another, then see the 3rd example below, and read this easy Admin HOW-TO on setting up ssh/rsa keys so that you computer can securely back itself up to your Linkstation while you are not there.


Compile from source

On any distribution FreeLink or OpenLink

  1. Make sure you have installed the Precompiled C development environment, running on the LS first.
  2. Get the source, make and install.
tar xfzv rsync-2.6.9.tar.gz 
cd rsync-2.6.9
su root 
make install

Raw Binaries


From the Yahoo! Linkstation General Group [13]

chmod a+x rsync
cp rsync /usr/bin


Use apt-get to install rsync

apt-get install rsync

OpenLink (Ipkg)


ipkg install rsync


Alexander Skwar has created a fairly extensive selection of Ipkg packages for the MIPSel (LS2) LinkStation, Install Ipkg and enable his feed:

ipkg install rsync


  • Create a backup named with todays date (formatted yyyy-mm-dd)
rsync -a /SOURCE/ /DEST/`date +%Y-%m-%d`/
  • A script to create a backup, named by date, which will save space by creating hard links to files which are already backed up. It requires a symbolic link to the most recently created backup dir (similar to the last line of the script)
BACKUP_DATE=`date +%Y-%m-%d`
rsync -a --delete --link-dest=/DEST/most-recent-backup /SOURCE/ /DEST/$BACKUP_DATE/
rm /BACKUP/most-recent-backup
ln -s /DEST/$BACKUP_DATE /DEST/most-recent-backup

  • This one-liner is incorporated into my crontab, giving me a weekly backup of my LS-HG's data partition hda3 onto a USB hard drive & logs everything. Use it either as a one-liner, or edit into separate lines and use as a bash script. It does the following:
    • prints a header with a timestamp
    • shows the rsync log, along with a record of what files are updated, and the average transfer speed of the backup
    • prints a footer with timestamp, and then a blank line
    • all the output is appended, so that the log is cumulative (I also have logrotation enabled)
echo ========FreeLink /dev/hda3 JFS backup started $(date) ====== >> /var/log/weeklybackuplog.txt  ;
rsync -av /mnt/share/shareddirs/ /mnt/share/usb0/backups/shareddirs >> /var/log/weeklybackuplog.txt ;
echo  ======end of backup run at $(date) =======  >> /var/log/weeklybackuplog.txt ;
echo >>  /var/log/weeklybackuplog.txt


  1. Wikipedia: rsync
  2. rsync homepage
  3. rsync algorithm
  4. rdiff-backup homepage
  5. RsyncX - Frontend for rsync under Mac OS X
  6. Fixing rsync on MacOS X 10.4 (Tiger) -
  7. Rsync for Windows - using Cygwin
  8. NasBackup rsync Windows GUI
  9. Tutorial: Using rsync
  10. Tutorial: Mirroring with rsync
  11. Tutorial: Backing up files with rsync
  12. Tutorials (with screenshots) for setup of Rsync on Windows, Rsync on Linux/Unix/BSD and Rsync on Mac OS X
  13. From the Yahoo! Linkstation General Group: rsync binaries anyone / SSH without password as root INTO LinkStation
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