I was transferring several thousand files each ~1MB via scp and my connection was broken after the first 2k files or so. I wanted to know if there was a way to resume the recursive transfer w/o starting over. Something like

$ scp -r [email protected]:/datafiles/ ./
... Happy Transfer ...
...     BREAK!     ...
$ rsync -P [email protected]:/datafiles/ ./
... Continue transf...

The problem is I can't seem to get the syntax correct if it is possible. Can anyone shed some light on if/how it can be done?

PS. If you specify the slash after "datafiles" in the rsync line, does that transfer the directory or its contents? I saw conflicting comments when I googled.

4 Answers 4


if you are rsyncing from a local machine to a remote host, this would work:

rsync -avzl -e ssh /directory/with/files/ [email protected]:/new/directory/
  • Thanks. I didn't think this was working because it would begin listing all my files but I didn't realize that it was showing the "file transfer" which just mean noticing the file was up to date. Right were my transfer left off it picked up with real (slower) transfers. Jun 1, 2010 at 16:23
  • Hmm, for me ssh -i akey.pem is required and I can't get the -i part to work with these commands. Sep 24, 2012 at 3:26
  • 2
    If you are trying to resume a large file, this options may be useful: --partial --inplace --no-whole-file. Mar 11, 2013 at 18:59
  • @kibitzer - once it showed you the file (on remote server), how did you start the transfer again? Mine just build the list file and shows me the file and how much was uploaded. But it just hangs with no option to continue or progress output. Has the transfer started again or do I need to do something to start it? Mar 23, 2014 at 23:11
  • 3
    -l is not necessary. It's implied by -a
    – Guido
    May 17, 2014 at 15:27

The following line should do the trick for that:

rsync --partial --progress --rsh=ssh -r [email protected]:/datafiles/ ./

I've never used this for recursive directories before, but when I texted it just now it seemed to work as expected.

  • 1
    This works too, as long as you include the -r =) Jun 1, 2010 at 17:07
  • Most of my rsync transfers are of the type "rsync -ahP something/ user@host:/somewhere/". The --rsh=ssh is completely unnecessary. Then, also -P drags in --partial and --progress.
    – killermist
    Jun 5, 2013 at 1:56

Merging kibitzer's and Tyler's answers worked best for me:

rsync --partial --progress -avzl -e ssh /directory/with/files/ [email protected]:/new/directory/

(rsyncing recursively and showing progress of each file)


The rsync command you listed would work, if you only added "-r". but you would also most likely want "-a" and "-v".

And about the trailing slash, [email protected]:/data/ is equivalent to /data/*, in other words, if you add a slash, it copies all the contents. but [email protected]:/data would be the directory itself [and naturally, its subfolders]

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