Use Rsync on your Ubuntu 20.04 Linux system - Step by step guide ?

rsync command also known as the remote sync is used for transferring and synching files and directories between machines, hosts, remote shells, and so on. It is a powerful utility that you should know about if you work with Linux.

Here at LinuxAPT, we shall look into how to install the rsync command on your Ubuntu Linux system which can also be applied in other Linux distributions.

If you want to sync your files using scp command, visit:

Why is rsync unique?

The rsync commands uses compression and decompression when receiving and sending files, this means it will consume very less bandwidth. 

Rsync only updates the differences between the source and destination as it uses the remote update protocol. 

It also supports owners, groups, links, permissions, and devices.

To see more of the available options on rsync, use:

$ rsync –help

How to install rsync on your Ubuntu Linux system ?

In order to install rsync, you need to run the following command on your system:

$ sudo apt-get install rsync

What is the syntax of Rsync ?

The rsync syntax is given below.

1. Local to local transfer or sync:

$ rsync {option} {source} {destination}

2. Local to remote transfer or sync:

$ rsync {option} {source} {user@host:destination}

3. Remote to local transfer or sync:

$ rsync {option} {user@host:destination} {destination}


  • Source is the source directory.
  • Destination is the destination directory.
  • Option is the rsync command options.
  • User is the remote username.
  • Host is the IP or remote hostname.

How to use rsync ?

1. Copy files locally

To copy files locally, use:

$ rsync –a {filename} {destination}

Here, we are copying "" from our current directory to Documents.

You can check if the file was copied by listing all the files and directories in Documents, using:

$ ls

You will see that the "" is present in the Documents directory.

If you don't add a name for the file in the destination, it will copy the same name as the source file. To change the name of the destination file, use:

$ rsync –a {filename} {destination/filename}

In our case, we will copy "" again, but this time, rename it to "".

"" has been copied to the Documents directory.

2. Copy the contents of a directory to the destination

You can use the command below to copy the contents of your source directory to the destination:

$ rsync –av {source}/ {destination}

Now you will see that the content "Source" directory being copied to the "Destination" directory.

3. Copy the whole directory to the destination

If you only want to copy the contents of your directory to the destination, use:

$ rsync –av {source} {destination}

Now, you will see that the "Source" directory and its contents are copied to the "Destination" directory.

4. Show progress

To view progress, use:

$ rsync –rv –progress {source} {destination}

5. Ignore files

If you want to ignore certain files, use:

$ rsync -vr --exclude '{condition}' {source} {destination}

The "Source" directory will have some files when you run the "ls" command.

You can ignore files that start with an "s".

6. List file and directories

rsync can be used to list the contents of a source:

$ rsync {filename}

This command will list the contents of the Documents directory.

7. Copy files from a local to a remote machine

For moving files to a remote machine, you will need to install openssh-server. The command for that is:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install openssh-server

Once this has been installed, you can use the command below to move your file or directory:

$ rsync –a {source} {remote username@remote IP:/destination}

You will be asked for the password of the remote machine.

8. Copy files from a remote to a local machine

You can use the below command like the one used in the above example:

$ rsync –a {remote source} {local username@local IP:/destination}

9. Add current date to the destination file

You can add the date to your destination file or directory's name using:

$ rsync -av /home/test/Desktop/Linux /home/test/Desktop/rsync$(date +\\%Y-\\%m)

Viewing the differences between the source and destination files

The command below can be used to see the differences between the source and destination files:

$ rsync –avzi {source}/ {destination}/


The parameter "f" means file. Other parameters include:

  • t: change in timestamp
  • d: change in destination
  • s: change in file size

10. Limit bandwidth when transferring files

To limit the bandwidth while transferring files, use:

$ rsync -vr --bwlimit=1000 {source}/* {destination}

How To Uninstall rsync from your Ubuntu 21.04 ?

To uninstall only the rsync package we can use the following command:

$ sudo apt-get remove rsync

We can use the following command to remove rsync configurations, data and all of its dependencies, we can use the following command:

$ sudo apt-get -y autoremove --purge rsync

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This article covers the basics of rsync command, how to transfer and sync files locally as well as remotely. In fact, Rsync is the most efficient, accessible, and secure ways to sync files between operating systems and servers.

How to Install Rsync On Linux System ?

1. Install Rsync Alma Linux, Fedora, Rhel, Rocky Linux based distributions:

$ sudo yum install rsync -y

2. Install Rsync Debian, Linux Mint, Ubuntu based distributions:

$ sudo apt install rsync -y

Rysnc Commands includes:

  • -a, –archive: archive files and directory while synchronizing ( -a equal to following options -rlptgoD)
  • -b, –backup : take the backup during synchronization
  • -l, –links: copy symlinks as symlinks during the sync
  • -d, –delete: deletes extraneous files from the destination location.
  • -e, –rsh=COMMAND: mention the remote shell to use in rsync
  • -h, –human-readable: display the output numbers in a human-readable format
  • -u, –update: don't copy the files from source to destination if destination files are newer
  • -r, –recursive: sync files and directories recursively
  • -n, –dry-run : perform a trial run without synchronization
  • –p, –progress: show the sync progress during transfer
  • -z, –compress: compress file data during the transfer
  • -q, –quiet: suppress message output
  • -v, –verbose : verbose output

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