I have a 38GB "Moodle" tar file that I need to transfer from the old server (Shared hosting), which we can call "Server A" to the new server (Dedicated virtual), or "Server B". I'm with Mediatemple if that helps.

I've already tarballed the directory and used wget to transfer it to server B via SSH, however - it's a puny 100GB package and I'm at 96% disk capacity - meaning I cannot untar the file on server B! Is there any way I can transfer this huge file from Server A to Server B, preserving permissions and with least possible chance file corruption, which will not make me hit the disk limit?

While I have spent quite a while doing this so far, I would be willing to abandon my original plan if someone can offer a better idea - and I would be very grateful!


Don't tar. Use rsync -av to preserve permissions while transfering the files. Though like tar, this does not preserve selinux context. Not that I would consider that important though.

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    Hi Dennis, thanks for the reply. I don't suppose you could elaborate a bit on how to use the rsync command? Or provide a useful article? Thanks again – alexbass Jul 25 '13 at 20:52
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    A useful article would be the rsync manpage :) But in a nutshell: if you have ssh access from serverb to servera, run this on serverb: rsync -av servera:/path/to/files/to/copy/ /path/to/copy/to – Dennis Kaarsemaker Jul 25 '13 at 20:58
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    If you're not sure how to use fundamental commands on the OS that you're using, start with the help facility. On Unix machines, that's often something like man rsync or rsync --help – mfinni Jul 25 '13 at 20:59
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    -a implies -r (and many more flags people kept forgetting until -a was added as "these are the useful flags for making backups") – Dennis Kaarsemaker Jul 25 '13 at 21:12
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    If security is not a problem (I mean you trust the network between the two machines) nc is also an option. On the server: tar -zc source | nc -l 1313 On the client: nc SERVER_IP 1313 | tar -zx – Tsvetomir Dimitrov Aug 5 '13 at 7:13

You probably want to buy more disk space, but assuming you don't, you could...

pipe the tarball around rather than downloading it.

newserver#  ssh olduser@oldserver "cat /path/to/tarball" | tar xf -

or if you don't have SSH access to your old server

newserver# wget -O - http://oldserver/path/to/tarball | tar xf -

or use rsync like Dennis said.

Be creative. There are other solutions I'm not mentioning.

  • You may have to use --numeric-owner option before making tarball to ensure owner and groups won't change. ssh ouser@oserver tar -zcplC /src_path --numeric-owner . | tar -zxpC /dst_path – F. Hauri Jul 28 '13 at 7:50
  • @F.Hauri --numeric-owner can have (potentially serious) unintended consequences if the UID/GID scheme differs between the two machines. This is usually not an issue in the internal environment, but moving from "shared hosting" to "dedicated virtual" this could cause problems. You should expect to have to fix ownership on the new server if using tar, cpio, and possibly even rsync. – voretaq7 Jul 30 '13 at 16:11
  • Yes, you're right but, not knowing about this kind of option could have (same) border effect too. Best of all: know what you're doing and... rtfm;-) – F. Hauri Jul 30 '13 at 22:50
  • ... some interesting way (filters) to use (or not) to be creative: nc òr openssl, sed, gpg, uuencode and mail (with care;) , enscript + lpr + [avian carriers] (fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_over_Avian_Carriers) + scan + ocr... But there are even more... – F. Hauri Jul 30 '13 at 22:57

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