Not many of you would know about RSYNC. RSYNC is FREE backup software built into many Linux system including MAC OSX. I will go over what RSYNC is and how to use it. Forget about paid for apps and backup software, they probably make use of RSYNC in the background with a graphical user interface on top anyway. Once you understand the basics of RSYNC, it makes for an incredibly powerful files sync and software backup tool without spending any dollar on backup software.

So what is RSYNC?

In simple terms RSYNC stands for Remote Sync and it is used to backup, sync and increment files across different volumes, even over remote destinations using SSH (Secure Shell). RSYNC uses the command line interface in Terminal in both Linux and MAC OS X. RSYNC is perfect for Digital Imaging Technicians (DIT’s) for backing up their client’s data onto multiple drives at the same time, and can even provide a “no-questioned asked” logfile for production and editorial.

How do you use RSYNC?

I will leave the in-depth complexities of RSYNC for you to explore, however, I will provide an invaluable terminal command for you to explore and build upon. This command will allow you to make software backups and incremental backups of your data using the same command to a destination of your choice. Not only that, it will print out the amount of files to be copied, file sizes of each and the transfer speed of each from from source to destination. This output can be copied directly from the terminal window in Excel for a log. RSYNC also keeps all file permissions and attributes of the files.

What is this command?

1. Open Terminal
2. Type this command rsync -rptWvh –progress –stats “/source” “/destination”
3. Press Enter.

P.S. “/source” “/destination” must be changed for your actual source and destination without quotes. i.e.

Source could be:
/Volumes/FlashDriveA/DataToBeCopied/

Destination could be:
/Volumes/FlashDriveB/DataReceivedFromFlashDriveA/

A simple way to do this, is to drag and drop the mounted drive from the desktop into the terminal window to get the absolute path. This is the recommended method, because if the drive has spaces in the name, it will automatically correct the space with a “\” character in terminal.

Now to go over what each parameter does:

Rsync:- This is to initiate the rsync backup protocol

-r:- recurse into directories. This goes through all the folders, from the root folder into the
-p:- Preserve file permissions
-t:- Preserve time stamp

-W:- Copy whole files, no incremental checks
-v:- Increase verbosity. This is what prints the display out in the terminal window

-h:- show this help screen
–progress:- Show progress during transfer
–stats:- Give some file transfer stats, like transfer speeds and file sizes.

Once your data/software backup has finished, select the text in the terminal window, copy and paste it in textedit/notepad for a logfile.

Please feel free to leave comments below if you would like to add to this post.