What Does Rsync Mean?

Rsync is a software tool for keeping file folders and directories synchronized. It can be used to upload files to a remote server and is particularly useful for minimizing data transfer when maintaining a mirror copy of local files on a remote server. Rsync can be used to copy data or as a daemon for providing directories to the network. Rsync is especially useful in controlling the bandwidth required for file transfer.


Rsync was written to replace rcp and scp. It is widely used for its flexibility, speed and scriptability. It works on Windows, Mac OS and GNU/Linux.

Techopedia Explains Rsync

Originally written by Andrew Tridgell and Paul Mackerras, rsync was developed by Wayne Davison and was first released on June 19, 1996. It available as free software under a GNU General Public License. It is mainly used for synchronizing website trees from staging to production servers and can also be used to back up key areas of the file systems through cron and via a common gateway interface script. Rsync helps to easily transfer large amounts of data, enabling ultra-fast and efficient backups.

Rsync operates in two different modes. It uses compression and recursion to copy files or display directory contents. In daemon mode, it uses Secure Shell (SSH, a file transfer protocol) or Remote Shell (RSH, a Unix command-line utility) to serve files through TCP port 873. Rsync supports anonymous or authenticated rsync servers. It also supports copying links, devices, owners, groups and permissions. Rsync does not require root privileges and helps to minimize latency costs.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.