Does rsync delete files from the destination if they were deleted from the source?

For example, say in the source /home/me I have three files:


Now, I run the command rsync -v /home/me/ user@ip.address:/home/backup and it copies files a.txt, b.txt and c.txt to /home/backup.

The contents of /home/backup are now


If I were to delete a.txt from /home/me, would a.txt get deleted from /home/backup the next time I run rsync, is there an option I need to specify or is it just completely impossible?

If there are any alternatives to rsync that do this, they are welcome as well.

Side note: I have read this and this relating to this topic, but I couldn't exactly understand or see how it was exactly related to the question.

1 Answer 1


Only if you… select one of the delete options. See man rsync for more information, but here is an excerpt:

--delete                delete extraneous files from dest dirs
--delete-before         receiver deletes before xfer, not during
--delete-during         receiver deletes during the transfer
--delete-delay          find deletions during, delete after
--delete-after          receiver deletes after transfer, not during
--delete-excluded       also delete excluded files from dest dirs

There is more detailed information for these options further down the man page.

  • Just to confirm, this means that if I select --delete, rsync would delete files from the destination that were deleted from the source, making the source and destination an exact mirror? Dec 18, 2015 at 4:30
  • 6
    Yes, but just have a read of the man page! There are caveats and hints, including running it with --dry-run.
    – Sparhawk
    Dec 18, 2015 at 4:32

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