I'm trying to copy the contents of a series of directories non-recursively to another remote system.


dir1, dir2, and dir3 contain many directories that I do not want copied. Copy on the remote host to /dirB maintaining the same directory structure.

I tried:

rsync /dirA/*/ host:/dirB/
rsync /dirA/   host:/dirB/

But they don't do what I want.


rsync allows you to specify patterns that trigger the inclusion or exclusion of files and directories. I think you want to use something like this:

rsync -a -f '- /*/*/' /dirA/ host:/dirB/


  • -a triggers the archive mode that activates both recursion and preservation of "symbolic links, devices, attributes, permissions, ownerships, etc.", according to man rsync.
  • -f is short for --filter=, which adds a file-filtering rule.
    • The pattern is inside single quotes so that the shell does not expand wildcards; double quotes would work equally well in this case.
    • - means this is an exclude pattern.
    • The leading / means the pattern must start at dirA/ (the rsync "transfer-root").
    • The */* part of the pattern refers to anything inside of a subdirectory.
    • The trailing / limits the exclusion to directories. Files inside a subdirectory of dirA/ are not affected.

So in the end, rsync copies nothing more than one level down (and also does not create second-level directories).

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Very nice! I was able to use -f '- /*/' to restrict to top level files only. I also had to specify -f '- .*' to exclude dot files, since I was syncing a home directory. – haridsv Sep 11 '14 at 9:27

The solution above (by PleaseStand) didn't work for me for some reason. This worked though:

rsync -avc --no-r ./source/* ./destination/

There's also this alternative one:

rsync -avc --exclude "/" ./source/ ./destination/

| improve this answer | |

One of the "features" of rsync is how directories are parsed.

rsync /dirA/ host:/dirB/ and rsync /dirA host:/dirB should theoretically be equivalent.

As not wanting to encourage recursiveness, you want to avoid -r, -a which in addition to other things implies -r.

I'm still not quite done with research, but this is my starting answer.

| improve this answer | |

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.