How to Rsync Two Hard Drives & Free Alternative

You will learn how to Rsync two hard drive on this page, and a free Rsync alternative for syncing local and external hard drives.


By Jonna Updated on May 8, 2024

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What is Rsync?

Rsync, short for "remote sync," is a command-line utility that synchronizes files and directories between two locations while minimizing data transfer by only copying the differences between the source and destination. It's widely used for backups, mirroring, and data migration tasks due to its efficiency and ability to preserve file permissions and ownership.


You can use Rsync to sync two hard drives, including local disks and external hard drives, or to sync two systems, like Rsync between Windows Servers. Some key features of this tool are:

  • Incremental Transfer: Rsync allows you to only transfer the differences between source and destination files, minimizing bandwidth usage and speeding up data synchronization.
  • Delta Encoding: It breaks files into blocks and uses a rolling checksum mechanism to identify and transfer only the changed portions of files, rather than transferring entire files.
  • Network Protocol: It can operate over a variety of network protocols, including SSH, allowing secure and efficient data transfer over local networks or the internet.

How to Use Rsync for Two Hard Drives Sync

Using Rsync to synchronize data between two hard drives involves specifying the source and destination directories and optionally including additional options to customize the synchronization process.

Some common basic Rsync options to help you get started:


Copy files recursively and preserve ownership of files when files are copied


Run the process of the command in the background and do not show up


Run the verbose version of the command; all running processes are written out for the user to read


Compress data during the sync


Display the progress of the transfer while the command is running


Delete any extraneous files in the target directory


Exclude specific file type


where to copy files from


where to copy files to

Here is a detailed guide on how to Rsync two hard drives:

Step 1. Open a terminal or command prompt on your system.

Step 2. Use the rsync command with appropriate options. For example:

  • rsync -av /path/to/source/ /path/to/destination/

Rsync Command

Replace /path/to/source/ with the source directory or drive and /path/to/destination/ with the destination directory or drive. The -av flags ensure that Rsync operates in archive mode and displays verbose output. You can also add the -delete option to ensure that any files deleted from the source are also removed from the destination

Step 3. Execute the command, and Rsync will begin synchronizing the files between the two hard drives. You can Rsync two external drives or Rsync two folders by adding the corresponding paths.

Step 4. Monitor the output for any errors or warnings during the synchronization process.

Common Rsync Errors

While Rsync is a reliable tool, you may encounter errors or issues during synchronization. Some common errors include:

💥Rsync not working: You have used the wrong Rsync syntaxes or you have installed the wrong version of Rsync.
💥Permission denied: This error occurs when Rsync does not have permission to access or modify certain files or directories.
💥Rsync not found files: Rsync may report that certain files or directories specified in the source are not found.
💥Rsync slow: Rsync is an open-source, command-line file replication solution that can be extremely slow when replicating a large amount of data.

Sync Two Hard Drives with Another Free Rsync Alternative

As you can see, there may be various problems while using Rsync. AOMEI Backupper Standard is a versatile and user-friendly backup and sync software that offers an alternative solution to Rsync for synchronizing data between two hard drives.

AOMEI Backupper
Free and Easy Sync Software
  • Multiple sync functions - It allows you to sync files to internal/external drives, and sync local folder to NAS, network share, cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. You can use it to sync two external hard drives or sync files between two computer with ease.
  • Auto sync - It supports to perform automatic sync with a schedule of Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, or USB plug in.
  • Wide compatibility - It works perfectly on Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP, and Vista, and AOMEI Backupper Server is offered for file synchronization on various Server systems.

For how to sync two hard drives using AOMEI Backupper, download and run AOMEI Backupper, and then follow the guide below:

Step 1. Make sure your two hard drives are connected and recognized by your computer. Select Sync > Basic Sync.

File Sync

★Tips: Basic Sync performs one way sync from the source to the destination path. You can try other sync options after upgrading to the Pro version if needed:
Real-Time Sync: Sync changed files from the source to the target in real time.
Mirror Sync: Always make the files in the destination folder identical to the files in the source folder.
Two-Way Sync: Sync changed files between source and target to each other to the other end.

Step 2. Click Add Folder to add the source folder.

Add Folder

Step 3. Click the second bar to add the destination drive.

Select Sync Destination

Step 4. Click Schedule Sync > Enable Schedule Sync to set up a scheduled sync mode if you want to sync folders between drives automatically. Then, tap on Start Sync.

Schedule Settings

FAQs about Rsync Two Hard Drives

#1. Does Rsync work both ways?

No, Rsync only does a one way sync. However, it's up to you to decide which way the sync goes.

#2. What are some disadvantages of using Rsync?

Rsync can struggle when transferring multiple folders that contain tens of thousands or more files, causing sync slow, sync stuck, and other issues.

#3. Is there anything better than Rsync?

There are alternative synchronization tools available, such as AOMEI Backupper Standard, which offers a more user-friendly interface, simple sync operations, and additional features like disk cloning and scheduled backups.


That's all about how to Rsync two hard drives. Synchronizing data between two hard drives is essential for data backup, mirroring, and data migration tasks. Rsync is a robust command-line tool that offers efficient synchronization capabilities, but it may not be the best option for all users, especially those on Windows systems or those looking for a more user-friendly interface.

AOMEI Backupper Standard provides a free and versatile alternative with advanced features and an intuitive interface, making it an excellent choice for syncing two hard drives effectively. Also, you can use it to transfer files from one computer to another with ease.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.