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Rsync symlink operation not supported – Different causes and fixes

by | Dec 3, 2020

The error ‘rsync symlink operation not supported’ occurs while transferring files from one server to another server.

Here at Bobcares, we have seen several such rsync command related errors as a part of our Server Management Services for web hosts and online service providers.

Today we will take a look at the different causes for this error and see their respective fix.


Different causes and fixes of ‘rsync symlink operation not supported’ error

Here are the different causes of this rsync error to occur. Also, our Support Engineers have provided their respective solutions for these causes.

1. Cause: NAS overwriting the settings when restarted.

Solution: We add the option “Unix extensions = yes” to the receiving server. Then we restart samba there and mounting share with cifs correctly handles permissions and symlinks.

2. Cause: Windows file systems like FAT32 and NTFS do not support symlinks.

Solution: We use a Linux formatted destination drive (ext2 or ext3). Or else we use the -d option with tar to create a differential backup.

3. Cause: Symbolic links are supported with the cifs vfs but only to servers, such as Samba (versions greater than about 2.2.5), that support the “CIFS Unix Extensions.”

Solution: We resolve this by modifying the CIFS mount options and include nosetuids,noperm

4. Cause: Protocol version

Solution: We enable symlinks with SMB3 by adding the mfsymlinks option. We do it by running the below mount command.

sudo mount -t cifs // /path/to/mount -o username=hostusername,vers=3.0,uid=clientusername,gid=clientgroupname,soft,rsize=8192,wsize=8192,mfsymlinks

5. Cause: Running docker-sync-stack start using rsync

Solution: In order to resolve this we try to include -L within the sync_args options of the docker-sync.yml

[Need any further assistance in fixing rsync errors? – We are here to help you.]



In short, the ‘rsync symlink operation not supported’ occurs while transferring files from one server to another server. In today’s writeup, we saw the different causes and fixes our Support Engineers provide to our customers to fix this error.


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