Remote Copy

What Does Remote Copy Mean?

Remote copy (rcp) is a command used in Unix operating systems to remotely copy one or more files between machines. The files are transferred via the TCP/IP protocol.


The file or directory argument contains a remote file name or a local file name, usually of the form [rname@]rhost:path. Remote copy uses the .rhosts file for authentication purposes. It can also use Kerberos for authentication.

Remote copy has been superseded by more secure protocols and commands such as secure copy (scp) and Simple File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) that are based on secure shell.

Techopedia Explains Remote Copy

The rname is interpreted by the local username and the domain/machine name when the remote user name is unknown. A colon (:) is used to separate the host name and path name to avoid confusion when specifying the local file names, which may also contain a colon followed by a drive letter. For example, when a file argument is of the form x:path where x is a single letter followed by a colon and a path name, the argument is interpreted by rcp as a path on drive x of the local system instead of a path on a host named x.

An equal sign (=) may also be used instead of a colon before the name with a slash to specify local file names on an rcp command line and to avoid this type of confusion. The local file can be specified as: c:/testfile as /c=/testfile


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…