Exclude multiple files and directories with rsync

Rsync is very powerful tool to take backups, or sync files and directories between two different locations (or servers).

In a typical backup situation, you might want to exclude one or more files (or directories) from the backup. You might also want to exclude a specific file type from rsync. Following are some examples on how to do this:

1. EXCLUDE A SPECIFIC DIRECTORY

If you don’t want to sync the dir1 (including all it’s subdirectories) from the source to the destination folder, use the rsync –exclude option as shown below.

$ rsync -avz --exclude 'dir1' source/ destination/

2. EXCLUDE MULTIPLE DIRECTORIES THAT MATCHES A PATTERN

The following example will exclude any directory (or subdirectories) under source/ that matches the pattern “dir*”

$ rsync -avz --exclude 'dir*' source/ destination/

3. EXCLUDE A SPECIFIC FILE

To exclude a specific file, use the relative path of the file in the exclude option as shown below.

$ rsync -avz --exclude 'dir1/somefile.txt' source/ destination/

4. EXCLUDE A SPECIFIC FILE TYPE

To exclude a specific file type that has a specific extension, use the appropriate pattern. For example, to exclude all the files that contains .txt as extension, do the following.

$ rsync -avz --exclude '*.txt' source/ destination/

5. EXCLUDE MULTIPLES FILES AND DIRECTORIES AT THE SAME TIME

When you want to exclude multiple files and directories, you can always specify multiple rsync exclude options in the command line as shown below.

$ rsync -avz --exclude file1.txt --exclude dir3/file4.txt source/ destination/

So, the better way is to use rsync –exclude-from option as shown below, where you can list all the files (and directories) you want to exclude in a file.

First, create a text file with a list of all the files and directories you don’t want to backup. This is the list of files and directories you want to exclude from the rsync.

$ vim exclude-list.txt
file1.txt
dir3/file4.txt

Next, execute the rsync using –exclude-from option with the exclude-list.txt as shown below.

$ rsync -avz --exclude-from 'exclude-list.txt' source/ destination/
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4 thoughts on “Exclude multiple files and directories with rsync

  1. rsync –delete –stats -vae ssh 12.123.123.12:/backup/cpbackup/daily /home/file/

    In this example how can I add this? When I try to add it like this: rsync –delete –stats -vae –exclude-from ‘/root/exclude-list.txt’ ssh 12.123.123.12:/backup/cpbackup/daily /home/file/

    I get this error: rsync error: syntax or usage error (code 1) at main.c(1201) [sender=3.0.6]

  2. Pingback: Deploying a git Repository with rsync and Tagging - Andrew MARCONI

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