I am trying to copy a folder and excluding two subdirectories, but rsync keeps copying the directories in the exclude.

rsync -savzPh -e "ssh -p 237"  --include '*/' --include '*.pdf' --include '*.PDF' --exclude '*' --exclude 'a1' --exclude 'my archive2' user@ip:"/home/path/my folder" .

Source looks like this:

  • /home/path/my folder/folder1
  • /home/path/my folder/folder2
  • /home/path/my folder/a1
  • /home/path/my folder/a2
  • /home/path/my folder/my archive
  • /home/path/my folder/my archive2

The pdf files in folders in exclude argument are still are getting copied.

Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong?

1 Answer 1


Rsync will parse the include/exclude rules based on first matching. In your case the include rules match the "excluded" folders ("a1" & "my archive 2") before it gets a chance to parse the "exclude" rule.

So in this case you need to order the include/exclude flags differently.

If you want to copy the entire contents of "my folder" excluding the "a1" and "my archive2" sub-directories then this should be your command:

rsync -savzPh -e "ssh -p 237" --exclude 'a1' --exclude 'my archive2' user@ip:"/home/path/my folder" .

If you want only the PDF files from that directory structure (excluding "a1" and "my archive2") then try the following structure:

rsync -savzPh -e "ssh -p 237"  --exclude 'a1' --exclude 'my archive2' --include '*.pdf' --include '*.PDF' --include '*/' --exclude '*' user@ip:"/home/path/my folder" .

Note that in the 2nd version you first exclude the folders, thus skipping those, then you include the PDF extensions and sub-dirs (otherwise it will skip all sub-dirs due to the last rule) and finally you exclude everything (else)

Try to think of the "include" rule as "what not to exclude" but in a sort-of reverse order.

Tested with rsync 3.2.3

  • Testing with a different order worked. Thanks
    – user206904
    Dec 12, 2021 at 15:50

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