Local Filesystem

Local paths are specified as normal filesystem paths, e.g. /path/to/wherever, so

rclone sync --interactive /home/source /tmp/destination

Will sync /home/source to /tmp/destination.


For consistencies sake one can also configure a remote of type local in the config file, and access the local filesystem using rclone remote paths, e.g. remote:path/to/wherever, but it is probably easier not to.

Modification times

Rclone reads and writes the modification times using an accuracy determined by the OS. Typically this is 1ns on Linux, 10 ns on Windows and 1 Second on OS X.


Filenames should be encoded in UTF-8 on disk. This is the normal case for Windows and OS X.

There is a bit more uncertainty in the Linux world, but new distributions will have UTF-8 encoded files names. If you are using an old Linux filesystem with non UTF-8 file names (e.g. latin1) then you can use the convmv tool to convert the filesystem to UTF-8. This tool is available in most distributions' package managers.

If an invalid (non-UTF8) filename is read, the invalid characters will be replaced with a quoted representation of the invalid bytes. The name gro\xdf will be transferred as gro‛DF. rclone will emit a debug message in this case (use -v to see), e.g.

Local file system at .: Replacing invalid UTF-8 characters in "gro\xdf"

Restricted characters

With the local backend, restrictions on the characters that are usable in file or directory names depend on the operating system. To check what rclone will replace by default on your system, run rclone help flags local-encoding.

On non Windows platforms the following characters are replaced when handling file names.

Character Value Replacement
NUL 0x00
/ 0x2F

When running on Windows the following characters are replaced. This list is based on the Windows file naming conventions.

Character Value Replacement
NUL 0x00
SOH 0x01
STX 0x02
ETX 0x03
EOT 0x04
ENQ 0x05
ACK 0x06
BEL 0x07
BS 0x08
HT 0x09
LF 0x0A
VT 0x0B
FF 0x0C
CR 0x0D
SO 0x0E
SI 0x0F
DLE 0x10
DC1 0x11
DC2 0x12
DC3 0x13
DC4 0x14
NAK 0x15
SYN 0x16
ETB 0x17
CAN 0x18
EM 0x19
SUB 0x1A
ESC 0x1B
FS 0x1C
GS 0x1D
RS 0x1E
US 0x1F
/ 0x2F
" 0x22
* 0x2A
: 0x3A
< 0x3C
> 0x3E
? 0x3F
\ 0x5C
| 0x7C

File names on Windows can also not end with the following characters. These only get replaced if they are the last character in the name:

Character Value Replacement
SP 0x20
. 0x2E

Invalid UTF-8 bytes will also be replaced, as they can't be converted to UTF-16.

Paths on Windows

On Windows there are many ways of specifying a path to a file system resource. Local paths can be absolute, like C:\path\to\wherever, or relative, like ..\wherever. Network paths in UNC format, \\server\share, are also supported. Path separator can be either \ (as in C:\path\to\wherever) or / (as in C:/path/to/wherever). Length of these paths are limited to 259 characters for files and 247 characters for directories, but there is an alternative extended-length path format increasing the limit to (approximately) 32,767 characters. This format requires absolute paths and the use of prefix \\?\, e.g. \\?\D:\some\very\long\path. For convenience rclone will automatically convert regular paths into the corresponding extended-length paths, so in most cases you do not have to worry about this (read more below).

Note that Windows supports using the same prefix \\?\ to specify path to volumes identified by their GUID, e.g. \\?\Volume{b75e2c83-0000-0000-0000-602f00000000}\some\path. This is not supported in rclone, due to an issue in go.

Long paths

Rclone handles long paths automatically, by converting all paths to extended-length path format, which allows paths up to 32,767 characters.

This conversion will ensure paths are absolute and prefix them with the \\?\. This is why you will see that your paths, for instance .\files is shown as path \\?\C:\files in the output, and \\server\share as \\?\UNC\server\share.

However, in rare cases this may cause problems with buggy file system drivers like EncFS. To disable UNC conversion globally, add this to your .rclone.conf file:

nounc = true

If you want to selectively disable UNC, you can add it to a separate entry like this:

type = local
nounc = true

And use rclone like this:

rclone copy c:\src nounc:z:\dst

This will use UNC paths on c:\src but not on z:\dst. Of course this will cause problems if the absolute path length of a file exceeds 259 characters on z, so only use this option if you have to.

Normally rclone will ignore symlinks or junction points (which behave like symlinks under Windows).

If you supply --copy-links or -L then rclone will follow the symlink and copy the pointed to file or directory. Note that this flag is incompatible with --links / -l.

This flag applies to all commands.

For example, supposing you have a directory structure like this

$ tree /tmp/a
├── b -> ../b
├── expected -> ../expected
├── one
└── two
    └── three

Then you can see the difference with and without the flag like this

$ rclone ls /tmp/a
        6 one
        6 two/three


$ rclone -L ls /tmp/a
     4174 expected
        6 one
        6 two/three
        6 b/two
        6 b/one

Normally rclone will ignore symlinks or junction points (which behave like symlinks under Windows).

If you supply this flag then rclone will copy symbolic links from the local storage, and store them as text files, with a '.rclonelink' suffix in the remote storage.

The text file will contain the target of the symbolic link (see example).

This flag applies to all commands.

For example, supposing you have a directory structure like this

$ tree /tmp/a
├── file1 -> ./file4
└── file2 -> /home/user/file3

Copying the entire directory with '-l'

$ rclone copyto -l /tmp/a/file1 remote:/tmp/a/

The remote files are created with a '.rclonelink' suffix

$ rclone ls remote:/tmp/a
       5 file1.rclonelink
      14 file2.rclonelink

The remote files will contain the target of the symbolic links

$ rclone cat remote:/tmp/a/file1.rclonelink

$ rclone cat remote:/tmp/a/file2.rclonelink

Copying them back with '-l'

$ rclone copyto -l remote:/tmp/a/ /tmp/b/

$ tree /tmp/b
├── file1 -> ./file4
└── file2 -> /home/user/file3

However, if copied back without '-l'

$ rclone copyto remote:/tmp/a/ /tmp/b/

$ tree /tmp/b
├── file1.rclonelink
└── file2.rclonelink

Note that this flag is incompatible with -copy-links / -L.

Restricting filesystems with --one-file-system

Normally rclone will recurse through filesystems as mounted.

However if you set --one-file-system or -x this tells rclone to stay in the filesystem specified by the root and not to recurse into different file systems.

For example if you have a directory hierarchy like this

├── disk1     - disk1 mounted on the root
│   └── file3 - stored on disk1
├── disk2     - disk2 mounted on the root
│   └── file4 - stored on disk12
├── file1     - stored on the root disk
└── file2     - stored on the root disk

Using rclone --one-file-system copy root remote: will only copy file1 and file2. Eg

$ rclone -q --one-file-system ls root
        0 file1
        0 file2
$ rclone -q ls root
        0 disk1/file3
        0 disk2/file4
        0 file1
        0 file2

NB Rclone (like most unix tools such as du, rsync and tar) treats a bind mount to the same device as being on the same filesystem.

NB This flag is only available on Unix based systems. On systems where it isn't supported (e.g. Windows) it will be ignored.

Advanced options

Here are the Advanced options specific to local (Local Disk).


Disable UNC (long path names) conversion on Windows.


  • Config: nounc
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false
  • Examples:
    • "true"
      • Disables long file names.

Follow symlinks and copy the pointed to item.


  • Config: copy_links
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false

Translate symlinks to/from regular files with a '.rclonelink' extension.


  • Config: links
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false

Don't warn about skipped symlinks.

This flag disables warning messages on skipped symlinks or junction points, as you explicitly acknowledge that they should be skipped.


  • Config: skip_links
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false

Assume the Stat size of links is zero (and read them instead) (deprecated).

Rclone used to use the Stat size of links as the link size, but this fails in quite a few places:

  • Windows
  • On some virtual filesystems (such ash LucidLink)
  • Android

So rclone now always reads the link.


  • Config: zero_size_links
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Apply unicode NFC normalization to paths and filenames.

This flag can be used to normalize file names into unicode NFC form that are read from the local filesystem.

Rclone does not normally touch the encoding of file names it reads from the file system.

This can be useful when using macOS as it normally provides decomposed (NFD) unicode which in some language (eg Korean) doesn't display properly on some OSes.

Note that rclone compares filenames with unicode normalization in the sync routine so this flag shouldn't normally be used.


  • Config: unicode_normalization
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Don't check to see if the files change during upload.

Normally rclone checks the size and modification time of files as they are being uploaded and aborts with a message which starts "can't copy - source file is being updated" if the file changes during upload.

However on some file systems this modification time check may fail (e.g. Glusterfs #2206) so this check can be disabled with this flag.

If this flag is set, rclone will use its best efforts to transfer a file which is being updated. If the file is only having things appended to it (e.g. a log) then rclone will transfer the log file with the size it had the first time rclone saw it.

If the file is being modified throughout (not just appended to) then the transfer may fail with a hash check failure.

In detail, once the file has had stat() called on it for the first time we:

  • Only transfer the size that stat gave
  • Only checksum the size that stat gave
  • Don't update the stat info for the file

NB do not use this flag on a Windows Volume Shadow (VSS). For some unknown reason, files in a VSS sometimes show different sizes from the directory listing (where the initial stat value comes from on Windows) and when stat is called on them directly. Other copy tools always use the direct stat value and setting this flag will disable that.


  • Config: no_check_updated
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false

--one-file-system / -x

Don't cross filesystem boundaries (unix/macOS only).


  • Config: one_file_system
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Force the filesystem to report itself as case sensitive.

Normally the local backend declares itself as case insensitive on Windows/macOS and case sensitive for everything else. Use this flag to override the default choice.


  • Config: case_sensitive
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Force the filesystem to report itself as case insensitive.

Normally the local backend declares itself as case insensitive on Windows/macOS and case sensitive for everything else. Use this flag to override the default choice.


  • Config: case_insensitive
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Disable preallocation of disk space for transferred files.

Preallocation of disk space helps prevent filesystem fragmentation. However, some virtual filesystem layers (such as Google Drive File Stream) may incorrectly set the actual file size equal to the preallocated space, causing checksum and file size checks to fail. Use this flag to disable preallocation.


  • Config: no_preallocate
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Disable sparse files for multi-thread downloads.

On Windows platforms rclone will make sparse files when doing multi-thread downloads. This avoids long pauses on large files where the OS zeros the file. However sparse files may be undesirable as they cause disk fragmentation and can be slow to work with.


  • Config: no_sparse
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Disable setting modtime.

Normally rclone updates modification time of files after they are done uploading. This can cause permissions issues on Linux platforms when the user rclone is running as does not own the file uploaded, such as when copying to a CIFS mount owned by another user. If this option is enabled, rclone will no longer update the modtime after copying a file.


  • Config: no_set_modtime
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


The encoding for the backend.

See the encoding section in the overview for more info.


  • Config: encoding
  • Type: Encoding
  • Default: Slash,Dot


Description of the remote


  • Config: description
  • Type: string
  • Required: false


Depending on which OS is in use the local backend may return only some of the system metadata. Setting system metadata is supported on all OSes but setting user metadata is only supported on linux, freebsd, netbsd, macOS and Solaris. It is not supported on Windows yet (see pkg/attrs#47).

User metadata is stored as extended attributes (which may not be supported by all file systems) under the "user.*" prefix.

Metadata is supported on files and directories.

Here are the possible system metadata items for the local backend.

Name Help Type Example Read Only
atime Time of last access RFC 3339 2006-01-02T15:04:05.999999999Z07:00 N
btime Time of file birth (creation) RFC 3339 2006-01-02T15:04:05.999999999Z07:00 N
gid Group ID of owner decimal number 500 N
mode File type and mode octal, unix style 0100664 N
mtime Time of last modification RFC 3339 2006-01-02T15:04:05.999999999Z07:00 N
rdev Device ID (if special file) hexadecimal 1abc N
uid User ID of owner decimal number 500 N

See the metadata docs for more info.

Backend commands

Here are the commands specific to the local backend.

Run them with

rclone backend COMMAND remote:

The help below will explain what arguments each command takes.

See the backend command for more info on how to pass options and arguments.

These can be run on a running backend using the rc command backend/command.


A null operation for testing backend commands

rclone backend noop remote: [options] [<arguments>+]

This is a test command which has some options you can try to change the output.


  • "echo": echo the input arguments
  • "error": return an error based on option value