Rsync: Using rsync to backup data from one server to another over SSH. Quick rsync tutorial.

Rsync is a great tool which can be used to do many tasks which involved copying/moving data. If privacy/security is of concern, which it always should be, you can use rsync to do all the copying/moving of data over SSH. Read through “man rsync” to get deeper understanding of rsync. Here is my attempt to a short tutorial on rsync. Let us start with most simple example of using rsync over ssh.

rsync -ae ssh server1:/home /home/backups/server1_home_backup/

This command will download all the files/directories from /home on server1 and copies them to /home/backups/server1_home_backup/
-a = archive mode. This will preserve permissions, timestamps, etc.
-e = specify which remote shell to use. In our case, we want to use ssh which follow right after “e”

Let us improve on this and add couple more parameters:

rsync -zave ssh --progress server1:/home /home/backups/server1_home_backup/
-z = adds zip compression.
-v = verbose
–progress = my favorite parameter when I am doing rsync manually, not so good when you have it in cron. This show progress (how_many_files_left/how_many_files_total) and speed along with some other useful data.

Great.. we are moving along pretty good. Let us add some security to make sure things work the way we want to.

rsync --delete-after -zave ssh --progress server1:/home /home/backups/server1_home_backup/

–delete-after = this will delete files on backup server which are missing from source after ALL syncing is done. If you don’t care of having extra files on your backup server and have plenty of disk space to spare, do not use this parameter.

Lastly, one of the VERY handy parameters,

rsync --delete-after -zave ssh --progress server1:/home /home/backups/server1_home_backup/ -n

The -n (or –dry-run) parameter is great to use for testing. It will not transfer or delete any files, rather will report to you what it would have done if it was ran with out -n parameter. This way you can test it with out destroying or transfering data just to find out that is not what you wanted.

For further reading: man rsync

6 thoughts on “Rsync: Using rsync to backup data from one server to another over SSH. Quick rsync tutorial.

  1. Anthony

    Is this a tool I need to buy? I want to copy the active directory from a live Windows 2003 server to a backup Windows 2003 server that I will manually reinstall.

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