Rsync Defaults for the Archive Flag

The command-line utility rsync synchronizes files on Unix, Linux, and macOS operating systems.

What does the flag -a default to? It is the “archive mode”.

Here is how to use the command-line utility rsync without the archive flag.

-a, --archive; archive mode; equals -rlptgoD (no -H,-A,-X)


-r, --recursive; recurse into directories
-l, --links; copy symlinks as symlinks
-p, --perms; preserve permissions
-t, --times; preserve modification times
-g, --group; preserve group
-o, --owner; preserve owner (super-user only)
-D; same as --devices --specials
--devices; preserve device files (super-user only)
--specials; preserve special files

Alternative Usage

This alternative syntax could be used for disk-to-disk transfers:

-x, --one-file-system; don't cross filesystem boundaries

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