I'm trying to run rsync on Windows with the cwrsync port.

I'm issuing the following command (note that this is just a dry run):

rsync -nPaAz foouser@webxx.example.com:/home/foobar/webapps/barbaz/ C:\\mybackupfolder\

but I get the following error

The source and destination cannot both be remote.
rsync error: syntax or usage error (code 1) at main.c(1148) [Receiver=3.0.8]

Could someone point me in the right direction?


For the destination try using:


Note that a colon tells rsync that the location is remote.

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  • Gotcha about the colon! But it doesn't seem to help. Tried this other version (%CD% is an env variable pointing to the current dir) too but still failing: rsync -nPaAz foouser@webxx.example.com:/home/foobar/webapps/barbaz/ %CD% – Lorenzo Sep 20 '11 at 22:38
  • 2
    what about changing to the destination directory and then just use "." for the destination? – jftuga Sep 21 '11 at 2:30
  • This actually works for me. You can just prepend /cygdrive/ before any windows drive. I installed rsync through Chocolatey (therefore cygwin based). – seb Aug 8 '19 at 11:36

Got here from a similar problem with rsync for Windows.

Instead of using the path, just make a .bat file that uses CD C:\whereto\ then in the rsync command just use . as the directory to save to.

Example (something.bat):

@echo off  
cd C:\mybackupfolder\  
rsync -nPaAz foouser@webxx.example.com:/home/foobar/webapps/barbaz/ .  
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My environment: Windows 10, in powershell. Solution also worked in a DOS prompt.

The problem is caused by the : after the drive letters, which makes it look like a hostname specification. You have to use an alternative notation.

I was using rsync installed via Chocolatey, so no cygwin drives.

Windows 10 lets me do this on powershell:

dir //localhost/C$

so, this command, run in a Windows 10 powershell, worked just fine for me, after running into same exact problem.

rsync -av //localhost/d$/home/work/fb460.winbup/src //localhost/d$/home/work/fb460.winbup/tgt
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  • Note this doesn't work or at least I couldn't make it work for ext2fsd drives. Your experience might differ. However as I wanted to copy from ext2 to ntfs I just changed to the ext2 drive and ran rsync -a some/path //localhost/c$/some/path – chx May 2 '17 at 9:20
  • I also installed via Chocolatey. This worked well for me! NTFS to NTFS. – jonathanbell Jan 6 '18 at 22:33


 rsync -nPaAz foouser@webxx.example.com:/home/foobar/webapps/barbaz/ C:/mybackupfolder/
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  • This does not work as expected for me. – Emre Yazici Apr 29 '12 at 22:54

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