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rsyncing files on Cloud Platform

To copy a large number of files from one place to another, one of the better options is to use rsync, which provides either an interactive or non-interactive way to copy files from one location to another on a single server, or from one server to another.


  • Acquia recommends that you run rsync on your production server, because it requires you to put a private key on the server.
  • Acquia recommends testing your rsync commands by adding the -n option with each rsync command, which gives you an output of the changes without committing them. You will need to add the -n option to the commands in the following steps.
  • You should download your Drush aliases.
  • If you’re using a Windows-based system for development, see rsync and Drush with Windows for Windows-specific directions.

To rsync files on Cloud Platform, complete the following steps:

  1. Ensure that the user, group, and mode of the files and folders you intend to rsync are set to allow the web server to have read-only access, and to explicitly block any other user from reading your content. Doing so prevents file locks or changes while you’re copying data.

  2. Create a new SSH key or use an existing SSH key, and then add the public key to your Acquia account on your account page. See Enabling SSH access.

  3. Place your private SSH key somewhere on the production server. For this example, suppose that you placed the key in the /mnt/files/[site]/files-private/private_key directory, where [site] is the website’s name on Cloud Platform. For more information about placement, see Storing private information in the file system.

  4. To allow access to the key, give it the proper permissions by using a command similar to the following:

    chmod 600 /mnt/files/[site]/files-private/private_key
  5. Execute the rsync from either of the production servers, as in this example:

    rsync -rltDvPh -e "ssh -i [path to private key]" [source] [destination]

    If you’re using Drush and aliases to download files, you can use a command like this:

    drush rsync sites/default
  6. Transfer the files folder from staging to production:

    rsync -rltDvPh -e "ssh -i /mnt/files/[site]/files-private/private_key" [user].[env]@[stage_server]:/mnt/files/[stage_name]/sites/default/files/ /mnt/files/[site]/sites/default/files

    In this example, [stage_name] is the name of the staging website’s name on Cloud Platform, and the [stage_server] is the name of the staging server on Cloud Platform.

The rsync flags ensure all the files copy recursively, and preserve both modification times and symlinks. For more information on the rsync options used here, see the rsync man page.

Additional examples

The following examples give information on how you can extend or update rsync commands to meet your needs.

Transferring files between environments

To transfer the files folder from your production environment to your staging environment, execute a command similar to the following:

rsync -rltDvPh -e "ssh -i /mnt/files/[site]/files-private/private_key" /mnt/files/[site]/sites/default/files/ [user].[env]@[stage_server]:/mnt/files/[stage_name]/sites/default/files/

Removing and replacing files

To remove and replace files with a new copy, execute a command similar to the following:

rsync -rltDvPh /mnt/files/[site]/sites/default/files/ /mnt/files/[site]/sites/default/files --delete

Transferring files across two servers

You can also use SCP over rsync from a local machine to transfer files between two remote servers. You may need to set up SSH keys between the two servers:

scp -r -P22 [user].[env]@[svr][site]/sites/default/files/ [user].[env]@[svr][site]/sites/default/files

In this example, [user] is your username, and [svr] is the name of the particular server you’re moving data to or from.