I have a directory that contains symbolic links to other directories located on different media on my system:


But the symbolic links show up as:


How can I perform an rsync that follows the symbolic links?


rsync -XXX /files/ user@server:/files/


The -L flag to rsync will sync the contents of files or directories linked to, rather than the symbolic link.

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    When I do this, all the receiver symbolic links get deleted and my sender starts re-sending the files. – ensnare Mar 10 '11 at 16:40
  • Isn't that what you want? I thought you wanted to have the real files on the receiving side, not just the symlinks. Do you mean you want the symlinks copied as symlinks, but automagically rewritten to point to the "right" place on the receiving system? If so, that's not what is normally meant by "an rsync that follows the symbolic links". – MadHatter Mar 10 '11 at 17:10
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    Hi -- these are directories. I got this to work with the -K flag. – ensnare Mar 10 '11 at 21:20
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    I'm sure SO is making me more stupid.. – John Hunt Nov 7 '14 at 11:53
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    To clarify, -LK if you want to follow both symlinked files and directories – Mahn Jul 14 '16 at 21:14

Just ran into this problem. And if you want rsync to treat symlinked directories as directories, you want the K option

rsync -K /files/ user@server:/files/

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  • You might also want to add the --copy-unsafe-links option – Gregory Magarshak Aug 2 '16 at 16:25

You need both -L and -K if you have symlinks on both sides, e.g. you already had your 1st rsync done and want to update the backup using rsync.

    -L, --copy-links            transform symlink into referent file/dir
    -K, --keep-dirlinks         treat symlinked dir on receiver as dir

In such cases, if you use only -L, the symlinks on the receiver side will be wiped out and new real dir will be made.

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