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3.0.1 • Public • Published


An async wrapper to the rsync command line utility for Node.js. Also available as the Grunt task grunt-rsync.

Release notes

  • 3.0.0
    • Node LTS Carbon v8.11.3 now minimum Node version
    • Remove lodash dependency
    • Port tests to Jest
  • 2.0.1 Upgrade to modern lodash ~4.15.0
  • 2.0.0 Escape non-escaped spaces in argument paths #47
  • 1.0.1 Improved error handling in #45. Added a times option for preserving modification times in #44.
  • 1.0.0 Bumped to version 1! Package now considered stable 🎉 With this comes a minor API change, the module no longer exports an object with an rsync function. Rather the rsync function is exported as the main value of the module. Check the usage section for an example.
  • 0.5.1 Added the sshCmdArgs option to enable additional customisation of the rsh ssh subcommand. See #37 and #38. Made the tests pass on modern versions of Node, see #36 - this package is now tested to work on all versions of Node from 0.10.25 to 5.3.0.
  • 0.4.3 Added the excludeFirst option. See #34.
  • 0.4.2 Add default chmod arguments on Windows to fix NTFS permissions, see #28.
  • 0.4.1 Renamed syncDest and syncDestIgnoreExcl options to the more scary sounding deleteAll and delete options in an effort to avoid potential user data loss due to misconfiguration. Updated docs to use the new option names. The old option names will continue to work.
  • 0.4.0 Reworking the way stdin is passed from the process to the rsync child process to facilitate Windows clients being able to read a passphrase from stdin.
  • 0.3.0 Swapping include/exclude order in the generated rsync command. Includes now come before excludes to faciliate the normal way of excluding file patterns with exceptions in rsync. See #16.
  • 0.2.0 Now launching the rsync command in a shell like child_process.exec does in Node Core. This enables us to use spawn, and avoid exec maxBuffer, while retaining full shell wildcard expansion.
  • 0.1.0 Now using child_process.exec as opposed to child_process.spawn to enable proper shell wildcard expansions in the options.src value. SSH option handling has been improved.
  • 0.0.1 Initial release.


A reasonably modern version of rsync (>=2.6.9) in your PATH.


$ npm install rsyncwrapper


var rsync = require('rsyncwrapper')
rsync(options, [callback])

The callback function gets four arguments (error,stdout,stderr,cmd).

error: An Error object if rsync failed, otherwise null.

stdout: stdout from rsync.

stderr: stderr from rsync.

cmd: The command string that was used to invoke rsync for debugging purposes.

The options argument is an object literal. See below for possible fields.


src [String|Array<String>] *required

Path to src. Can be a single filename, or an array of filenames. Shell wildcard expansion is supported. Examples:

src: "./dist/"
src: ["./dir-a/file1","./dir-b/file2"]
src: "./*.foo"
src: "foo{1,2,3}.txt"
dest [String] *required

Path to destination. Example, "/var/www/mysite.tld".

ssh [Bool] default: false

Run rsync over ssh. This is false by default. To use this you need to have public/private key passwordless ssh access setup and working between your workstation and your host. If set to true, you should specify ssh host data as part of your src or dest values, e.g. user@

Another good approach is to define a host alias in your ssh config and just reference that alias in your rsync options.

port [String]

If your ssh host uses a non standard SSH port then set it here. Example, "1234".

privateKey [String]

To specify an SSH private key other than the default for this host. Example, "~/.ssh/aws.pem"

sshCmdArgs [Array]

Add an array of arbitrary additional args to the rsh ssh subcommand. This can be useful for turning off strict host key checking to avoid typing yes or no when connecting to new hosts. See SSH's clients man page for more. Example, ["-o StrictHostKeyChecking=no"]

recursive [Boolean] default: false

Recurse into directories. This is false by default which means only files in the src root are copied. Equivalent to the --recursive rsync command line flag.

❗️ deleteAll [Boolean] default: false

Take care with this option, since misconfiguration could cause data loss. Deletes objects in dest that aren't present in src, also deletes files in dest that have been specifically excluded from transfer. Equivalent to setting both the --delete and --delete-excluded rsync flags.

❗️ delete [Boolean] default: false

Take care with this option, since misconfiguration could cause data loss. The same as deleteAll, but without the --delete-excluded behaviour. One use case for using this option could be while syncing a Node app to a server: you want to exclude transferring the local node_modules folder while retaining the remote node_modules folder.

compareMode [String] enum: "checksum"|"sizeOnly"

By default files will be compared by modified date and file size. Set this value to checksum to compare by a 128bit checksum, or sizeOnly to compare only by file size.

include [Array<String>]

Optional array of rsync patterns to include in the transfer, if previously excluded. Include patterns are defined before exclude patterns when building the rsync command.

exclude [Array<String>]

Optional array of rsync patterns to exclude from transfer. Include patterns are defined before exclude patterns when building the rsync command.

excludeFirst [Array<String>]

Optional array of rsync patterns to exclude from transfer. These are defined before the include patterns when building the rsync command. This is useful to exclude specific files or folders that would be included by the include patterns.

dryRun [Boolean] default: false

Buffer verbose information to stdout about the actions rsyncwrapper would take without modifying the filesystem. Equivalent to setting both the --dry-run and --verbose rsync command line flags.

onStdout [Function]

Optional callback function. Called every time rsync outputs to stdout. Use this to print rsync output as it happens, rather than all at the end. Example: function (data) { console.log(data) }.

onStderr [Function]

Optional callback function. Called every time rsync outputs to stderr. Use this to print rsync error output as it happens, rather than all at the end. Example: function (data) { console.log(data) }.

times [Boolean]

Uses the rsync --times flag to transfer modification times along with the files and update them on the remote system.

args [Array<String>]

Array of additional arbitrary rsync command line options and flags.

The above options are provided for convenience and are designed to cover the most common use cases for rsync, they don't necessarily map directly to single rsync arguments with the same names. If you'd like to handcraft your rsync command then just use the src, dest and args options.

For extra information and subtlety relating to rsync options please consult the rsync manpages.


Basic tests are run on Vows Async BDD via this package's Gruntfile. To test rsyncwrapper clone the repo and ensure that the devDependancies are present. Additionally ensure that Grunt and Vows are installed globally, and then invoke:

$ npm test


Copy a single file to another location. If the dest folder doesn't exist rsync will do a mkdir and create it. However it will only mkdir one missing directory deep (i.e. not the equivalent of mkdir -p).

    src: 'file.txt',
    dest: 'tmp/file.txt',
  function(error, stdout, stderr, cmd) {
    if (error) {
      // failed
    } else {
      // success

Copy the contents of a directory to another folder, while excluding txt files. Note the trailing / on the src folder and the absence of a trailing / on the dest folder - this is the required format when copying the contents of a folder. Again rsync will only mkdir one level deep:

    src: 'src-folder/',
    dest: 'dest-folder',
    recursive: true,
    exclude: ['*.txt'],
  function(error, stdout, stderr, cmd) {
    if (error) {
      // failed
    } else {
      // success

Synchronize the contents of a directory on a remote host with the contents of a local directory. The deleteAll option will delete all files on the remote host that either aren't present in the local folder or have been excluded from transfer.

    src: 'local-src/',
    dest: 'user@',
    ssh: true,
    recursive: true,
    deleteAll: true, // Careful, this could cause data loss
  function(error, stdout, stderr, cmd) {
    if (error) {
      // failed
    } else {
      // success

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