rsync is pretty clear to me but I have a specific task I could not figure out yet.

I want to sync source with destination 1:1. I believe the --delete option would cover that. So if I add a file on source, rsync would add the file to destination. If the file is removed on source, rsync removes it on destination. Now, I do not want the destination file to be removed but to be moved to an "archive" folder.

Is it possible to ask rsync for a list of missing files on source? So I can move the items on the list from destination to archive?

I have a solution that kind-of-works but it is not stable since it relates on a transfer file and depends on rsync console output which might differ in rsync versions.

rsync -avun --delete src/ tgt/ |grep "deleting" | cut -c10- > transfer.txt
rsync --files-from=transfer.txt --remove-source-files tgt/ archive/
rm transfer.txt
rsync -ravu --delete src/ tgt/

any ideas on how to do this in a more reliable way?

2 Answers 2


The --backup --backup-dir=/some/backup/directory options will backup files that are changed or deleted on the destination.

rsync -auv --delete --backup --backup-dir=/path/to/backupdir src/ tgt/

Note that the path for --backup-dir is relative to the destination, so to avoid it being placed inside tgt/ it is best to provide an absolute path.

  • this really is a great solution for this problem. Thank you so much! Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 23:24

There is the option --list-only option.

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