By Delia / Last update September 17, 2021

Can You Use Rsync in Windows 10?

Rsync (Remote Sync) is a Linux/Unix based utility for data backup and synchronization both locally and remotely. Using Rsync command, you can sync files and directories across directories, disks or networked computers. 

In Windows 10, you might have the same demand - copy files from one directory to another local directory, sync files from local machine to network server or vice versa, as thus you may want to use Rsync in Windows 10. But can you really do it?

Linux is not hosted by Microsoft, so to run Linux command on Windows 10, you need to do some preparations first, some of them may be complicated and time consuming. Therefore, you could also consider using file sync software in Windows 10 as Rsync alternative.

Rsync Windows 10

How to Run Rsync Command in Windows 10

There are several approaches to run Linux commands in Windows 10, one is to dual boot Linux and Windows, which allows you to choose which system to boot on startup, but it might be too much trouble especially when you are not trying to use Linux frequently.

Therefore, it’s more recommended to install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on your computer. It works as a Windows utility and enables you to run Linux distribution in command line mode, which is a relatively easy way to use Rsync in Windows 10, and applies to other Linux utilities as well.

Here’s a further explanation to the approach:

Step 1. Follow this WSL Installation Guide provided by Microsoft to install Windows Subsystem for Linux on your Windows 10 computer. You can see there are two options:

For the Simplified install: It saves you from complicated steps of manual installation, but you are required to join the Windows Insiders Program and install a preview build of Windows 10 (OS build 20262 or higher). With this method, you just need to run wsl --install in a command window as administrator, and restart the computer to use WSL.

For the Manual install: It takes a few more steps to install WSL. First, you need to enter this command in PowerShell as Administrator:

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart

Enable Wsl

Then you can either update to WSL 2 or continue using WSL 1. For the latter, you can now select a Linux distribution in Microsoft Store. Available options include Ubuntu, SUSE, Debian, Fedora, Pengwin, etc.

Wsl

No matter you choose Simplified install or Manual install, the first time you launch the Linux distribution, you'll be asked to wait for a few minutes till the files being stored on your computer. Also, you need to create a user account with password for the Linux distribution.

Step 2. Now that the WSL and Linux distribution has been set up. To install and use Rsync in Windows 10, you still need to install Git for Windows, which allows you to run Rsync command with Git Bash.

Git For Windows

Step 3. Then, you can install Rsync on Windows 10. Download Rsync, use 7-zip to extract it and move rsync.exe to C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin. Now, you shall be able to use Rsync in Windows 10.

Related tip:

There's also a packaging of Rsync for Windows, called cwRsync. You can use it for remote file backup and sync in Windows 10 as well. But the free version of cwRsync Server is discontinued and the last free version is no longer directly available. For more details, you could view its official site.

Rsync Alternative in Windows 10 to Backup and Sync Files

As you can see, it’s not easy to install Rsync for Windows 10 even with the simplified approach. If you don’t have to use this utility and are open to other options, maybe a Windows based program could save you a lot of hassle.

Then, how about the built-in approaches in Windows 10?

  • You should have used the Backup and Restore utility - it takes a cumbersome & slow and error-prone procedure. In terms of functionality, it also lacks many options to perform data backup flexibly.
  • As for File History, it can automatically backup your files with a simple setup, which seems convenient, but the supported storage locations are very limited.
  • Also, none of the tools enables you to sync files and directories.

For these reasons, I prefer to use a 3rd party Rsync Windows alternative to backup and sync files both locally and remotely. AOMEI Backupper Standard is an example.

◆ It supports Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista, and the operation is really simple within an intuitive GUI.

◆ It contains both Backup and Sync features to meet your different data protection and transferring needs.

◆ During setup, you can select source or target path as internal/external hard drive, network/NAS, cloud drive, USB. Thus you can easily sync local drive with network/cloud drive, sync NAS with cloud, sync NAS to NAS, etc.

◆ Schedule enables you to automatically backup files on regular basis, and incremental or differential backup only changed files to save your storage space.

◆ You can set up schedule to run Sync task regularly as well. If you upgrade to Professional or higher editions, you can enjoy more advanced Sync modes. And there's also Server edition for Windows Server users.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Here’s an example to sync files in Windows 10 computer to cloud drive:

Step 1. Download and launch the Rsync Windows alternative, switch to Sync tab and select Basic Sync.

Advanced Sync Modes:
Real-Time Sync: Sync changed files from source directory to target directory in real time.
Mirror Sync: Always keep the files in source directory exactly same as target directory. 
Two-Way Sync: Any changes made to source or target directory will be synchronized to the other side.

Basic Sync

Step 2. Click Add Folder to select the folder you want to sync. You can repeat this process to add multiple folders.

Add Folders

Step 3. Choose a destination path. To specify a network Share/NAS or cloud service, you could click the small triangle beside select box and choose Select a network location or Select a cloud drive accordingly.

Select A Destination

Step 4. You can Start Sync immediately, or create a Schedule to execute the task automatically.

Schedule options include Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Event triggers/USB plug in. The last two are available in advanced editions.

Select Onedrive As Destination

That’s it. After creating a scheduled Sync task, you don’t need to set it up again. It will auto run in the background without disturbing the job you are doing.

To better meet your needs, you can also create multiple backup and sync tasks at the same time, and manage them in Home tab easily.

Verdict

As a handy command in Linux, Rsync is possible to be used in Windows 10, but the process is complicated and time-consuming. To back up and sync files locally and remotely, you could also use AOMEI Backupper in Windows 10 as an Rsync alternative.

In addition to above mentioned features, AOMEI Backupper integrates a Clone module allowing you to clone a disk, and therefore migrate HDD to SSD, move OS to another hard drive without reinstalling, or even clone larger drive to smaller drive, etc.