/ Üllar Seerme

You are probably better off with 'rsync' for remote transfers

November 4, 2022

I recently had to transfer a roughly 90MB directory from a remote machine to my local machine for debugging purposes and my first inclination was to use scp. Probably out of habit as I am used to just replacing ssh with scp when I need a file; hadn’t really done whole-directory transfers before.

I looked up the relevant options1 and with a combination of r, C, and p (scp -rCp ...) I was off to the races. If you can even call it a race as during the time that this invocation was running I was able to use rsync instead and come up with the whole of this post. Here’s how long rsync took to copy said directory from the east coast of the US to Estonia:

$ rsync -azv <user>@<remote>:<remote path> <local path>
receiving incremental file list
...
sent 33.635 bytes  received 90.267.295 bytes  6.688.957,78 bytes/sec
total size is 90.098.094  speedup is 1,00

real    0m12,697s
user    0m1,073s
sys     0m1,614s

After what seemed like forever, scp reported as being done when a whopping 20 minutes had passed. To not completely discount scp though: if you first archive a directory to a .tar.gz file, then the transfer will take far less time; roughly 10 seconds instead.


  1. I continue to prefer Mankier for this with the help of a DuckDuckGo bang (namely !mankier): https://www.mankier.com/1/scp↩︎

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