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How to Preserve Permissions in rsync

by | Feb 17, 2021

Wondering how to preserve permissions in rsync? We can help you.

Often after migration, it becomes a tedious task to compare and set the permissions of files/folders as in the source server.

To make this easy we can preserve the permissions while migrating using rsync.

Here at Bobcares, we use rsync to make migration requests of our customers hassle-free.

Today let’s see how our Support Techs do this for our customers as a part of our Server Management Services.

Preserving Permissions in rsync

rsync is a powerful file and folder synchronization tool in Linux.

The advantage of rsync is that instead of copying data blindly, it compares the source and destination directories so that only the difference between the two is sent through the network (or between volumes).

Before going to the commands for preserving permissions in rsync we will see some of the features of rsync.

Some features key features of rsync are:

  1. We can update whole directory trees and filesystems.
  2.  It allows to optionally preserves symbolic links, hard links, file ownership, permissions, devices, and times.
  3. In addition to this, it also does not requires any special privileges for installing.
  4. Internal pipelining reduces latency for multiple files.
  5. Can use rsh, ssh or direct sockets as the transport
  6. It supports anonymous rsync which is ideal for mirroring

Methods to preserve permissions in rsync

In order to preserve permissions, we will use -p flag (–perms).

We can also use -a flag (–archive), which is an aggregation of -p and several other useful ones.

Archive mode consists of the following flags:

-r, --recursive recurse into directories
-l, --links Copy symlinks as symlinks
-p, --perms Preserve permissions
-t, --times Preserve times
-g, --group Preserve group
-o, --owner Preserve owner (super-user only)
-D, --devices --specials Preserve devices (super-user only) +files


‘rsync -a’ option preserves the permissions, ownership, timestamp of files and folders that are to be transferred using rsync.

To transfer a file or folder from source to destination using rsync, we use the format:

rsync source destination

To preserve the above-mentioned permissions, ownership, and timestamp we can use the following command:

rsync -avz source destination

This will synchronize the two folders or files and will also maintain the same timestamp as that of the source.

To test whether the rsync has been done right we can check the permission of files in a folder in the source destination using the following command:

ls -al

Rsync copies the numerical user id of the file, regardless if it exists on the target system.

[Need assistance to use rsync? We can help you]


In short, we saw how our Support Techs use rsync to preserve permissions.


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