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Use Rsync to copy lots of files

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Rsync is a more powerful cp commandline utility. It helps you replicate the contents of a whole directory, sub-directories included.

rsync -a dir1/ dir2

This will copy everything in dir1 into dir2.

The -a option means it will preserves symbolic links, special and device files, modification times, group, owner, and permissions.

-r is a an alternative option to -a.

Useful options

-n or -dry-run always you to try it before actually doing it.

-v for verbose.

-P for partial and progress. Allows transfers/copies to be resumed.

--exclude allows you to exclude files from the transfer/copy. There are multiple ways to do it.

# a pattern
rsync -a --exclude '*.jpg*' dir1/ dir2
# mutliple files to exclude
rsync -a --exclude={'file1.txt','dir1/*','dir2'} dir1/ dir2
rsync -a --exclude 'file1.txt' --exclude 'dir1/*' --exclude 'dir2' dir1/ dir2
# list files to exclude in a file
rsync -a --exclude-from='exclude-file.txt' dir1/ dir2

--include allows you to add back in a file you've excluded.

Replicate on a remote server

rsync can be used between machines, as long as both have it available. This makes it useful for transfering files to a server.

# local to remote
rsync -a ~/dir1 username@remote_host:destination_directory
# remote to local
rsync -a username@remote_host:/home/username/dir1 place_to_sync_on_local_machine

Further reading

How To Use Rsync to Sync Local and Remote Directories on a VPS