I'm copying a large amount of files between disks. There's approximately 16 GB of data. I'd like to see progress information, and even an estimated time of completion from the command line.

Any advice?

3 Answers 3


Use rsync --human-readable --progress.

For single files and block devices there's also pv. And if you genuinely need an accurate progress bar, try using tar with pv — something like this:

size=$(du -sx "$source")
cd "$source"
find . xdev -depth -not -path ./lost+found -print0 \
    | tar --create --atime-preserve=system --null --files-from=- \
          --format=posix --no-recursion --sparse \
    | pv --size ${size}k \
    | { cd "$target"; \
        tar --extract --overwrite --preserve-permissions --sparse; }

Be warned, however, that GNU tar does not yet support ACLs or extended attributes, so if you are copying filesystems mounted with the "acl" or "xattrs" options, you need to use rsync (with the "--acls" and "--xattrs" options). Personally, I use:

rsync --archive --inplace --hard-links --acls --xattrs --devices --specials \
    --one-file-system --8-bit-output --human-readable --progress /source /target

Also look into whether you want to use the --delete and/or --numeric-ids options.

  • Was posting that. However, be aware that it doesn't provide a reliable "progress over total copy time". However, rsync brings many benefits to this kind of stuff.
    – alex
    Jun 9, 2010 at 19:21

Instead of dd I would suggest pv, e.g.:

% tar -cf - INPUT | pv -rbe -s SIZE | tar -xf - -C DEST 

Have you tried rsync -P? If you're using dd, e.g. tar -cf - src | dd | (cd dest; tar -xf -) you should be able to use Ctrl-T (SIGINFO) to see your progress.

  • Linux doesn't even have SIGINFO.
    – Teddy
    Jun 9, 2010 at 19:41
  • When copying with dd I send SIGUSR1 to dd instead to cause it to print the statistics. A simple killall -USR1 dd will do the job. (Which works on Linux, even if, as Teddy points out, Ctrl+T doesn’t work.) Jun 10, 2010 at 13:24

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