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?

4 Answers 4


For the destination try using:


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

  • 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, 2011 at 22:38
  • 2
    what about changing to the destination directory and then just use "." for the destination?
    – jftuga
    Sep 21, 2011 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, 2019 at 11:36

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
  • 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, 2017 at 9:20
  • I also installed via Chocolatey. This worked well for me! NTFS to NTFS. Jan 6, 2018 at 22:33

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/ .  


 rsync -nPaAz foouser@webxx.example.com:/home/foobar/webapps/barbaz/ C:/mybackupfolder/
  • This does not work as expected for me. Apr 29, 2012 at 22:54
  • @EmreYazici What did you expect?
    – Marki
    Mar 10, 2021 at 17:19
  • @Marki Whatever the expectation, that was nine years ago :)
    – Krumelur
    Mar 12, 2021 at 8:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.