I'm using Linux (centos) machine, I already connected to the other system using ssh. Now my question is how can I copy files from one system to another system?

Suppose, in my environment, I have two system like System A and System B. I'm using System A machine and some other using System B machine.

How can I copy a file from System B to System A? And, copy a file from System A to System B?

  • 1
    I find scp to be a cumber stone often. If it could suite your needs, try this out linuxjournal.com/article/8904 It mounts the remote file system locally. – TheMeaningfulEngineer Dec 24 '13 at 9:57
  • 36
    @Alan I think you mean "cumbersome"? Cumber Stone is a Magic card ;) – Izkata Dec 24 '13 at 14:47
  • 2
    somewhat related: make an encrypted archive of local dir/ on remote machine using ssh: tar -c dir/ | gzip | gpg -c | ssh user@remote 'dd of=dir.tar.gz.gpg' – jfs Dec 24 '13 at 20:49
  • 2
    If you has access of the ftp of the remote server, we can also use wget to download like $wget -r --level=9 --no-parent --reject "index.html*" ftp://<USERID>:<PASSWORD>@<MACHINE-NAME>/path/to Reference1 Reference2 – Mahendran Sakkarai Jan 19 '15 at 6:22
  • 2
    Not duplicate, linked question specifically asks not to use scp; for that one scp is fine and most easy way as answer, so mods please remove duplicate flag as if somebody will go to other one, most useful answer will be missed out. – Alexei Martianov Oct 11 '19 at 12:13

10 Answers 10



scp <source> <destination>

To copy a file from B to A while logged into B:

scp /path/to/file username@a:/path/to/destination

To copy a file from B to A while logged into A:

scp username@b:/path/to/file /path/to/destination
  • 141
    To clarify, you typically don't use scp to copy a file to or from your local machine (System A) while logged in to a remote server (System B) with ssh. scp will log you into the remote server, copy the file, then log you out again in one process, so just run it from a shell on your local machine. That being said, you can use scp if you're logged into System B via SSH and want to copy files between System B and System C. – Garrett Albright Dec 24 '13 at 16:40
  • 4
    @DopeGhoti. Yes, you can't move files between two remote computers. Either the source or destination must be a local file. However, if you log in to a remote machine with ssh, you can copy files between two remote machines on that machine's command-line. – Gee-Bee Aug 8 '14 at 19:48
  • 5
    Also, an important thing to remember is that you can only scp to a folder on the target machine to which you have permissions. If you are trying to copy it to a destination to which the target user does not have permission, first copy the file to the user's home directory or sub directory and then ssh into the target machine and sudo move it over to the final destination – shaveenk Apr 25 '15 at 20:30
  • 16
    Remember -r (recursive) and -p (preserve system metadata): scp -rp <file1> <file2> – Rutrus Jul 1 '15 at 7:23
  • 15
    Yes, use -P to specify the TCP port on the remote host. This catches me every time, because ssh uses -p. – DopeGhoti Apr 28 '16 at 18:22

In case if you need an alternate approach.

Install sshfs. if you use ubuntu/debian:

sudo apt-get install sshfs

or, if you use centos/rhel:

sudo yum install fuse-sshfs

or, in macOS

brew install sshfs

Create an empty dir

mkdir /home/user/testdir

"link" or "mount" the two directories

sshfs user@server.com:/remote/dir /home/user/testdir

"unlink" the dirs

fusermount -u /home/user/testdir

On BSD and macOS, to unmount the filesystem:

umount mountpoint


diskutil unmount mountpoint

For more see here, linuxjournal.com libfuse/sshfs

  • 7
    The question specifically states that the OS in question is CentOS; not Debian-derived. apt-get is a Debianism; the correct package manager would be yum or, for really old flavors of CentOS, up2date or rpm. – DopeGhoti Dec 24 '13 at 21:30
  • 43
    +1 the answer for this question may be off context, but it still helped me, and as far as I can see, others too. – osirisgothra Jul 23 '14 at 15:27
  • 11
    Not related, but it's a one million dollar answer xD – Ramy Al Zuhouri May 15 '15 at 16:55
  • If I understand correctly, this gives ACCESS to the remote files, but does not COPY them? – ToolmakerSteve Apr 20 '16 at 2:46
  • @ToolmakerSteve you're perfectly right: it creates a fake directory (mount), so that you can use all your preferred tools to copy or move things: cp, mv, rm, rsync, unison... The scp command would only be able to copy files. – Yvan Oct 19 '16 at 5:38

Sometimes you need to get fancy with tar:

tar -C / -cf - \
  opt/widget etc/widget etc/cron.d/widget etc/init.d/widget \
  --exclude=opt/widget/local.conf | 
  ssh otherhost tar -C / -xvf -
  • 17
    Creativity? This is how we used to share tape drives. :) – Dan Garthwaite Dec 8 '15 at 15:01
  • 2
    Can you tell us what this does? For example I have no idea what 'cron' has to do with copying file! – aliqandil Oct 28 '16 at 15:00
  • 3
    @aliqandil opt/widget etc/widget etc/cron.d/widget etc/init.d/widget are individual files to be included in the tar archive. The point was to illustrate why sometimes you need to get fancy. This series of commands streams the tar archive over an ssh connection and unarchives it on the other side. Thus no tar archive is ever written to disk. I use this sometimes to cherry pick files to copy in one command. – Dan Garthwaite Oct 28 '16 at 18:51
  • Ow! I taught the first '/' was the source path! (What is it?) So that was a silly question! Thanks. :) – aliqandil Oct 28 '16 at 21:01
  • 4
    Tar will chdir to "/" thus all the following paths are relative to "/". – Dan Garthwaite Oct 29 '16 at 14:27

If you want to keep the files on both systems in sync then have a look at the rsync program:

(see tutorial here)

  • This is a real professional tool. – jacouh Nov 22 '19 at 10:22

A simpler method that works with via SSH controlled NVIDIA Jetson computers is to connect with SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol).

Suppose I wish to move the document UFO_blueprint.odt from NASA's remote servers and move it into my Documents.

  1. cd to where you want the file saved

    $ cd Documents
  2. Connect

    $ sftp sammy@your_server_ip_or_remote_hostname
  3. Go the directory that contains the file to be transferred.

    $ cd NASA/secret_files/
  4. Transfer

    $ get UFO_blueprint.odt

To get the complete directory, instead use

$ get -r secret_files/
  • 2
    use put command for uploading files – Lu55 Nov 18 '20 at 21:45

If they are running SCP / SSH on a different port, make sure you specify the uppercase -P port option.


scp -P 7121 /users/admin/downloads/* root@
  • 1
    This question is seven years old and has many answers already. While it is true that ssh can use non-default ports and the ssh client's -P option is then required, you don't really help with the problem at hand. Try focusing on recent questions. – berndbausch Feb 7 at 1:39

If you have one of the common OSes, you can install pigz that is the same as gzip except that it will use multiple cores and be quicker over a fast network. My command is a bit different.

tar cf - -C /opt -S <dir> | pigz | ssh <target> "pigz -d | tar xf - -C /opt -S"

or the other way to get files

ssh <target> "tar cf - -C /opt -S <dir> | pigz" | pigz -d | tar xf - -C /opt -S

or backup the root fs with

ssh <target> "tar cf - -C / --one-file-system -S --numeric-owner . | pigz" > root.tgz

Unix/Linux recursive copy of files and folders over a secure shell using the code following:

scp -r <host@machine_name:from_remote_directory_path> <to_local_directory_path>

A full example might look like:

scp -r sizwe@hprobook:./home/sizwe/PycharmProjects ./home/immaculate/OtherPycharmProjects

Note if you do not have a DNS server to resolve hostnames, use your IP address instead. The example above might look like this

scp -r ./home/immaculate/OtherPycharmProjects

ssh user@domain "printf 'dir' | pax -w " | pax -r

Use it instead of scp. Pax standardized [1] by IEEE, and scp deprecated by lwn[2] usersg.

[1] https://man.bsd.lv/pax.1#STANDARDS [2] https://lwn.net/Articles/835962/

From someone else on "the CLI-way" ;-)


If speed (and not security) is your priority, then check out netcat. Before I start, let me warn you that this should be used only in a trusted network because netcat transfers are not encrypted.

First, on the receiving side, run this:

nc -lp 22222 >FileName

Then on the sending side:

nc -w3 <receiver IP or hostname> 22222 <FileName


  • -l: Listen mode
  • -p: Port number to listen on (I picked an arbitrary port)
  • -w: Connect timeout

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.