First you’ll need to configure rclone. As the object storage systems have quite complicated authentication these are kept in a config file .rclone.conf in your home directory by default. (You can use the --config option to choose a different config file.)

The easiest way to make the config is to run rclone with the config option:

rclone config

See the following for detailed instructions for


Rclone syncs a directory tree from one storage system to another.

Its syntax is like this

Syntax: [options] subcommand <parameters> <parameters...>

Source and destination paths are specified by the name you gave the storage system in the config file then the sub path, eg “drive:myfolder” to look at “myfolder” in Google drive.

You can define as many storage paths as you like in the config file.


rclone uses a system of subcommands. For example

rclone ls remote:path # lists a re
rclone copy /local/path remote:path # copies /local/path to the remote
rclone sync /local/path remote:path # syncs /local/path to the remote

The main rclone commands with most used first

  • rclone config - Enter an interactive configuration session.
  • rclone copy - Copy files from source to dest, skipping already copied
  • rclone sync - Make source and dest identical, modifying destination only.
  • rclone move - Move files from source to dest.
  • rclone delete - Remove the contents of path.
  • rclone purge - Remove the path and all of its contents.
  • rclone mkdir - Make the path if it doesn’t already exist.
  • rclone rmdir - Remove the path.
  • rclone check - Checks the files in the source and destination match.
  • rclone ls - List all the objects in the the path with size and path.
  • rclone lsd - List all directories/containers/buckets in the the path.
  • rclone lsl - List all the objects path with modification time, size and path.
  • rclone md5sum - Produces an md5sum file for all the objects in the path.
  • rclone sha1sum - Produces an sha1sum file for all the objects in the path.
  • rclone size - Returns the total size and number of objects in remote:path.
  • rclone version - Show the version number.
  • rclone cleanup - Clean up the remote if possible
  • rclone dedupe - Interactively find duplicate files delete/rename them.

See the commands index for the full list.

Copying single files

rclone normally syncs or copies directories. However if the source remote points to a file, rclone will just copy that file. The destination remote must point to a directory - rclone will give the error Failed to create file system for "remote:file": is a file not a directory if it isn’t.

For example, suppose you have a remote with a file in called test.jpg, then you could copy just that file like this

rclone copy remote:test.jpg /tmp/download

The file test.jpg will be placed inside /tmp/download.

This is equivalent to specifying

rclone copy --no-traverse --files-from /tmp/files remote: /tmp/download

Where /tmp/files contains the single line


It is recommended to use copy when copying single files not sync. They have pretty much the same effect but copy will use a lot less memory.

Quoting and the shell

When you are typing commands to your computer you are using something called the command line shell. This interprets various characters in an OS specific way.

Here are some gotchas which may help users unfamiliar with the shell rules

Linux / OSX

If your names have spaces or shell metacharacters (eg *, ?, $, ', " etc) then you must quote them. Use single quotes ' by default.

rclone copy 'Important files?' remote:backup

If you want to send a ' you will need to use ", eg

rclone copy "O'Reilly Reviews" remote:backup

The rules for quoting metacharacters are complicated and if you want the full details you’ll have to consult the manual page for your shell.


If your names have spaces in you need to put them in ", eg

rclone copy "E:\folder name\folder name\folder name" remote:backup

If you are using the root directory on its own then don’t quote it (see #464 for why), eg

rclone copy E:\ remote:backup

Server Side Copy

Drive, S3, Dropbox, Swift and Google Cloud Storage support server side copy.

This means if you want to copy one folder to another then rclone won’t download all the files and re-upload them; it will instruct the server to copy them in place.


rclone copy s3:oldbucket s3:newbucket

Will copy the contents of oldbucket to newbucket without downloading and re-uploading.

Remotes which don’t support server side copy (eg local) will download and re-upload in this case.

Server side copies are used with sync and copy and will be identified in the log when using the -v flag.

Server side copies will only be attempted if the remote names are the same.

This can be used when scripting to make aged backups efficiently, eg

rclone sync remote:current-backup remote:previous-backup
rclone sync /path/to/files remote:current-backup


Rclone has a number of options to control its behaviour.

Options which use TIME use the go time parser. A duration string is a possibly signed sequence of decimal numbers, each with optional fraction and a unit suffix, such as “300ms”, “-1.5h” or “2h45m”. Valid time units are “ns”, “us” (or “µs”), “ms”, “s”, “m”, “h”.

Options which use SIZE use kByte by default. However a suffix of b for bytes, k for kBytes, M for MBytes and G for GBytes may be used. These are the binary units, eg 1, 2**10, 2**20, 2**30 respectively.


Bandwidth limit in kBytes/s, or use suffix b|k|M|G. The default is 0 which means to not limit bandwidth.

For example to limit bandwidth usage to 10 MBytes/s use --bwlimit 10M

This only limits the bandwidth of the data transfer, it doesn’t limit the bandwith of the directory listings etc.

Note that the units are Bytes/s not Bits/s. Typically connections are measured in Bits/s - to convert divide by 8. For example let’s say you have a 10 Mbit/s connection and you wish rclone to use half of it - 5 Mbit/s. This is 58 = 0.625MByte/s so you would use a --bwlimit 0.625M parameter for rclone.


The number of checkers to run in parallel. Checkers do the equality checking of files during a sync. For some storage systems (eg s3, swift, dropbox) this can take a significant amount of time so they are run in parallel.

The default is to run 8 checkers in parallel.

-c, --checksum

Normally rclone will look at modification time and size of files to see if they are equal. If you set this flag then rclone will check the file hash and size to determine if files are equal.

This is useful when the remote doesn’t support setting modified time and a more accurate sync is desired than just checking the file size.

This is very useful when transferring between remotes which store the same hash type on the object, eg Drive and Swift. For details of which remotes support which hash type see the table in the overview section.

Eg rclone --checksum sync s3:/bucket swift:/bucket would run much quicker than without the --checksum flag.

When using this flag, rclone won’t update mtimes of remote files if they are incorrect as it would normally.


Specify the location of the rclone config file. Normally this is in your home directory as a file called .rclone.conf. If you run rclone -h and look at the help for the --config option you will see where the default location is for you. Use this flag to override the config location, eg rclone --config=".myconfig" .config.


Set the connection timeout. This should be in go time format which looks like 5s for 5 seconds, 10m for 10 minutes, or 3h30m.

The connection timeout is the amount of time rclone will wait for a connection to go through to a remote object storage system. It is 1m by default.

--dedupe-mode MODE

Mode to run dedupe command in. One of interactive, skip, first, newest, oldest, rename. The default is interactive. See the dedupe command for more information as to what these options mean.

-n, --dry-run

Do a trial run with no permanent changes. Use this to see what rclone would do without actually doing it. Useful when setting up the sync command which deletes files in the destination.


Using this option will make rclone unconditionally skip all files that exist on the destination, no matter the content of these files.

While this isn’t a generally recommended option, it can be useful in cases where your files change due to encryption. However, it cannot correct partial transfers in case a transfer was interrupted.


Normally rclone will look at modification time and size of files to see if they are equal. If you set this flag then rclone will check only the modification time. If --checksum is set then it only checks the checksum.

It will also cause rclone to skip verifying the sizes are the same after transfer.

This can be useful for transferring files to and from onedrive which occasionally misreports the size of image files (see #399 for more info).

-I, --ignore-times

Using this option will cause rclone to unconditionally upload all files regardless of the state of files on the destination.

Normally rclone would skip any files that have the same modification time and are the same size (or have the same checksum if using --checksum).


Log all of rclone’s output to FILE. This is not active by default. This can be useful for tracking down problems with syncs in combination with the -v flag. See the Logging section for more info.

--low-level-retries NUMBER

This controls the number of low level retries rclone does.

A low level retry is used to retry a failing operation - typically one HTTP request. This might be uploading a chunk of a big file for example. You will see low level retries in the log with the -v flag.

This shouldn’t need to be changed from the default in normal operations, however if you get a lot of low level retries you may wish to reduce the value so rclone moves on to a high level retry (see the --retries flag) quicker.

Disable low level retries with --low-level-retries 1.


This modifies the recursion depth for all the commands except purge.

So if you do rclone --max-depth 1 ls remote:path you will see only the files in the top level directory. Using --max-depth 2 means you will see all the files in first two directory levels and so on.

For historical reasons the lsd command defaults to using a --max-depth of 1 - you can override this with the command line flag.

You can use this command to disable recursion (with --max-depth 1).

Note that if you use this with sync and --delete-excluded the files not recursed through are considered excluded and will be deleted on the destination. Test first with --dry-run if you are not sure what will happen.


When checking whether a file has been modified, this is the maximum allowed time difference that a file can have and still be considered equivalent.

The default is 1ns unless this is overridden by a remote. For example OS X only stores modification times to the nearest second so if you are reading and writing to an OS X filing system this will be 1s by default.

This command line flag allows you to override that computed default.


Don’t set Accept-Encoding: gzip. This means that rclone won’t ask the server for compressed files automatically. Useful if you’ve set the server to return files with Content-Encoding: gzip but you uploaded compressed files.

There is no need to set this in normal operation, and doing so will decrease the network transfer efficiency of rclone.


When using this flag, rclone won’t update modification times of remote files if they are incorrect as it would normally.

This can be used if the remote is being synced with another tool also (eg the Google Drive client).

-q, --quiet

Normally rclone outputs stats and a completion message. If you set this flag it will make as little output as possible.

--retries int

Retry the entire sync if it fails this many times it fails (default 3).

Some remotes can be unreliable and a few retries helps pick up the files which didn’t get transferred because of errors.

Disable retries with --retries 1.


Normally rclone will look at modification time and size of files to see if they are equal. If you set this flag then rclone will check only the size.

This can be useful transferring files from dropbox which have been modified by the desktop sync client which doesn’t set checksums of modification times in the same way as rclone.


Commands which transfer data (sync, copy, copyto, move, moveto) will print data transfer stats at regular intervals to show their progress.

This sets the interval.

The default is 1m. Use 0 to disable.

If you set the stats interval then all command can show stats. This can be useful when running other commands, check or mount for example.


By default data transfer rates will be printed in bytes/second.

This option allows the data rate to be printed in bits/second.

Data transfer volume will still be reported in bytes.

The rate is reported as a binary unit, not SI unit. So 1 Mbit/s equals 1,048,576 bits/s and not 1,000,000 bits/s.

The default is bytes.


This option allows you to specify when files on your destination are deleted when you sync folders.

Specifying the value --delete-before will delete all files present on the destination, but not on the source before starting the transfer of any new or updated files. This uses extra memory as it has to store the source listing before proceeding.

Specifying --delete-during (default value) will delete files while checking and uploading files. This is usually the fastest option. Currently this works the same as --delete-after but it may change in the future.

Specifying --delete-after will delay deletion of files until all new/updated files have been successfully transfered.


This sets the IO idle timeout. If a transfer has started but then becomes idle for this long it is considered broken and disconnected.

The default is 5m. Set to 0 to disable.


The number of file transfers to run in parallel. It can sometimes be useful to set this to a smaller number if the remote is giving a lot of timeouts or bigger if you have lots of bandwidth and a fast remote.

The default is to run 4 file transfers in parallel.

-u, --update

This forces rclone to skip any files which exist on the destination and have a modified time that is newer than the source file.

If an existing destination file has a modification time equal (within the computed modify window precision) to the source file’s, it will be updated if the sizes are different.

On remotes which don’t support mod time directly the time checked will be the uploaded time. This means that if uploading to one of these remoes, rclone will skip any files which exist on the destination and have an uploaded time that is newer than the modification time of the source file.

This can be useful when transferring to a remote which doesn’t support mod times directly as it is more accurate than a --size-only check and faster than using --checksum.

-v, --verbose

If you set this flag, rclone will become very verbose telling you about every file it considers and transfers.

Very useful for debugging.

-V, --version

Prints the version number

Configuration Encryption

Your configuration file contains information for logging in to your cloud services. This means that you should keep your .rclone.conf file in a secure location.

If you are in an environment where that isn’t possible, you can add a password to your configuration. This means that you will have to enter the password every time you start rclone.

To add a password to your rclone configuration, execute rclone config.

>rclone config
Current remotes:

e) Edit existing remote
n) New remote
d) Delete remote
s) Set configuration password
q) Quit config

Go into s, Set configuration password:

e/n/d/s/q> s
Your configuration is not encrypted.
If you add a password, you will protect your login information to cloud services.
a) Add Password
q) Quit to main menu
a/q> a
Enter NEW configuration password:
Confirm NEW password:
Password set
Your configuration is encrypted.
c) Change Password
u) Unencrypt configuration
q) Quit to main menu

Your configuration is now encrypted, and every time you start rclone you will now be asked for the password. In the same menu you can change the password or completely remove encryption from your configuration.

There is no way to recover the configuration if you lose your password.

rclone uses nacl secretbox which in turn uses XSalsa20 and Poly1305 to encrypt and authenticate your configuration with secret-key cryptography. The password is SHA-256 hashed, which produces the key for secretbox. The hashed password is not stored.

While this provides very good security, we do not recommend storing your encrypted rclone configuration in public if it contains sensitive information, maybe except if you use a very strong password.

If it is safe in your environment, you can set the RCLONE_CONFIG_PASS environment variable to contain your password, in which case it will be used for decrypting the configuration.

You can set this for a session from a script. For unix like systems save this to a file called set-rclone-password:

#!/bin/echo Source this file don't run it


Then source the file when you want to use it. From the shell you would do source set-rclone-password. It will then ask you for the password and set it in the envonment variable.

If you are running rclone inside a script, you might want to disable password prompts. To do that, pass the parameter --ask-password=false to rclone. This will make rclone fail instead of asking for a password if RCLONE_CONFIG_PASS doesn’t contain a valid password.

Developer options

These options are useful when developing or debugging rclone. There are also some more remote specific options which aren’t documented here which are used for testing. These start with remote name eg --drive-test-option - see the docs for the remote in question.


Write CPU profile to file. This can be analysed with go tool pprof.


Dump HTTP headers - will contain sensitive info such as Authorization: headers - use --dump-headers to dump without Authorization: headers. Can be very verbose. Useful for debugging only.


Dump HTTP headers and bodies - may contain sensitive info. Can be very verbose. Useful for debugging only.


Dump the filters to the output. Useful to see exactly what include and exclude options are filtering on.


Dump HTTP headers with Authorization: lines removed. May still contain sensitive info. Can be very verbose. Useful for debugging only.

Use --dump-auth if you do want the Authorization: headers.


Write memory profile to file. This can be analysed with go tool pprof.


--no-check-certificate controls whether a client verifies the server’s certificate chain and host name. If --no-check-certificate is true, TLS accepts any certificate presented by the server and any host name in that certificate. In this mode, TLS is susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks.

This option defaults to false.

This should be used only for testing.


The --no-traverse flag controls whether the destination file system is traversed when using the copy or move commands.

If you are only copying a small number of files and/or have a large number of files on the destination then --no-traverse will stop rclone listing the destination and save time.

However if you are copying a large number of files, escpecially if you are doing a copy where lots of the files haven’t changed and won’t need copying then you shouldn’t use --no-traverse.

It can also be used to reduce the memory usage of rclone when copying - rclone --no-traverse copy src dst won’t load either the source or destination listings into memory so will use the minimum amount of memory.


For the filtering options

  • --delete-excluded
  • --filter
  • --filter-from
  • --exclude
  • --exclude-from
  • --include
  • --include-from
  • --files-from
  • --min-size
  • --max-size
  • --min-age
  • --max-age
  • --dump-filters

See the filtering section.


rclone has 3 levels of logging, Error, Info and Debug.

By default rclone logs Error and Info to standard error and Debug to standard output. This means you can redirect standard output and standard error to different places.

By default rclone will produce Error and Info level messages.

If you use the -q flag, rclone will only produce Error messages.

If you use the -v flag, rclone will produce Error, Info and Debug messages.

If you use the --log-file=FILE option, rclone will redirect Error, Info and Debug messages along with standard error to FILE.

Exit Code

If any errors occurred during the command, rclone with an exit code of 1. This allows scripts to detect when rclone operations have failed.

During the startup phase rclone will exit immediately if an error is detected in the configuration. There will always be a log message immediately before exiting.

When rclone is running it will accumulate errors as it goes along, and only exit with an non-zero exit code if (after retries) there were no transfers with errors remaining. For every error counted there will be a high priority log message (visibile with -q) showing the message and which file caused the problem. A high priority message is also shown when starting a retry so the user can see that any previous error messages may not be valid after the retry. If rclone has done a retry it will log a high priority message if the retry was successful.

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