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If I have a folder with several files on my computer, and a copy of the same folder on a remote server, is it possible to run 'diff' through ssh so I can see the differences between my copy and the one on the remote server? Ideally, I'd like to see if there are any additional/less files in either copy of the folder and then check to see if the individual files themselves have any differences.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

To see if there are any additional/less files in either copy of the folder

diff -y <(ssh user@remote_server 'ls -1aR /remote_folder/') <(ls -1aR /local_folder/)
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diff only works with local files. You might use scp or rsync to copy the files to a local directory and compare it with diff, or you can use something like sshfs to mount a remote directory to a local one and compare it with the second one.

For a single file, you can use ssh and diff:

ssh user@machine cat remote-file | diff - local.file
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Is there no ssh equivalent of diff? This would work... but it seems to me that someone else would have wanted the same thing, and hopefully done it. :P Thanks, though! – Kitchi Oct 29 '12 at 12:30

An alternative to find which files differ is to use rsync, as described in http://serverfault.com/a/16665/317052. Use

rsync -anicu  . user@remote_host:directory/
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