Title pretty much says it all. If I have a folder (mydir/) on server1.com, and want to copy it to a parent folder on server2.com, then what is the difference (performance, security, capabilities, etc.) between:

scp mydir/ server2.com:/some/path/


rsync -avz mydir/ someUser@server2.com:/some/path/

Thanks in advance!

  • If this isn't a duplicate of something, it's a valid question
    – pjc50
    Feb 24, 2012 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


1) Performance

scp will be faster

2) Security

scp is more secure, but if you were to use rsync -avz -e ssh, then rsync would be as secure

3) Capability

rsync can 'sync' the two copies, so lets say if your scp stopped in middle of the transfer for some reason (network issue lets say), you could use rsync to complete the transfer. scp will simply overwrite.

alias scpresume="rsync --partial --progress --rsh=ssh"

rsync can also exclude certain subdirectories/files using the --exclude flag, scp can't do that.

  • Thanks freethinker - what is it that makes scp more secure? SSH? If so, is that why setting rsync's rsh argument to ssh accomplishes the same thing?
    – pnongrata
    Feb 24, 2012 at 13:59
  • 1
    If you repeat the copy, rsync may be faster as it only transfers differences in files. This is it's raison d'être. Feb 24, 2012 at 14:32
  • AIUI rsync now uses SSH by default, so there's no difference in security. And all the other reports I've seen say rsync will be at least as fast as scp; why do you think scp is quicker?
    – me_and
    Aug 1, 2014 at 17:30
  • 3
    So basically most of this answer is out of date or now incorrect? Jul 27, 2017 at 14:39

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.