I have a remote server with an rsync share and I need to pull just the most recent 7 days of files.

I can SEND files based on date by using:

find /path -mtime 7 ... -exec rsync -a

but I can't just login to the server and send the files to my local machine so I need a way to use rsync to get all the files that are less than 7 days old and grab them.

I cannot simply sync everything as the total data on the server exceeds 100TB and I don't have access to the remote server other than the rsync module.

  • Wouldn't that run find locally? Or am I missing something?
    – lbutlr
    Aug 5, 2016 at 5:34
  • Can you get a file listing including time stamps from the remote side? (If all else fails, you could touch dummy files locally and use --ignore-existing to not overwrite those files.) Aug 5, 2016 at 6:33
  • I assume you have ssh-access when using rsync, so you could use ssh backup@host "find <dir> <options>" > temp_file_list and then use this list for rsync.
    – FelixJN
    Aug 5, 2016 at 7:54

2 Answers 2


Surprisingly, this can actually be done with rsync(1) alone, without shell access to the remote server.

Assuming bash(1) and GNU date(1):

#! /usr/bin/env bash


cutoff=$( date -d '7 days ago' +%s )
rsync -na --no-motd --out-format='%M %f' "$src" "$dst" | \
    while IFS= read -r line; do
        d=${line%% *}
        fn=${line#* }
        fdate=$( date -d "${d/-/ }" +%s ) || continue
        if [ $fdate -ge $cutoff ]; then printf '%s\0' "$fn"; fi
    done | \
    rsync -a --files-from=- -0 "$src" "$dst"
  • I am getting file_stat errors and I can't figure out why. Given src=rsync://server/files/4K/; dst=/local/4K/ I get errors like rsync: link_stat "/4K/local/4K/folder one/File Name 4" (in files) failed: No such file or directory (2) I mean, I understand the error Is because that path is invalid, but I don't understand how that path is getting mushed together like that.
    – lbutlr
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:09
  • @lbutlr As far as I can tell that's because of the trailing slash in dst. rsync does some bizarre dance with parsing trailing slashes. To mirror directory /files/4K on the server to local directory /local/4K you need src=rsync://server/files/4K/ (with trailing slash) and dst=/local/4K (without trailing slash). That's probably all you need to remember, but there's a lot more about it in the manual. Aug 9, 2016 at 7:44
  • Hmm. Took out the trailing slash and it looks the same. I wonder if the source server is using an old rsync. Does this require rsync 3.x?
    – lbutlr
    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:37
  • @lbutlr No idea. But your problem is No such file or directory (2), not protocol mismatch, option unknown, or similar. Perhaps a dangling symlink on the server? Aug 9, 2016 at 9:39
  • The end of the path on the server "4K" is getting prepended to the path of the local share (/local/4K) and THAT is being passed to rsync along with the file path, which cannot find the file on the server, of course.
    – lbutlr
    Aug 11, 2016 at 16:27

This is the approach that I used as part of an rsnapshot backup script:


ssh -qx "$rhost" "cd '$rpath' && find . -mtime -7 -print0" |
    rsync --from0 --files-from=- -avHS "$rhost:$rpath/" .

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