I am running an rsync -avz command which excludes a large 32GB file by using --exclude=/file/path and no matter what I do rsync transfers the file.

I understand that logically the --archive option means mirror everything, but the examination of the -rlptgoD options the --archive option is equivalent to doesn't seem to explicitly override the --exclude option

--archive, -a            archive mode is -rlptgoD (no -A,-X,-U,-N,-H)

--recursive, -r          recurse into directories    
--links, -l              copy symlinks as symlinks
--times, -t              preserve modification times
--perms, -p              preserve permissions
--group, -g              preserve group
--owner, -o              preserve owner (super-user only)
-D                       same as --devices --specials
--devices                preserve device files (super-user only)
--specials               preserve special files
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    If it did, it'd be largely useless (I'm talking about both options here). Is there anything in the path that might cause it to be interpreted as pattern that doesn't match the actual path?
    – muru
    Feb 2 at 13:10
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    my point is that even explicit filenames can have characters that may be interpreted as something more.
    – muru
    Feb 2 at 13:39
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    No, -a/--archive does not override --exclude=path. In my rsync commands, when my --exclude doesn't seem to work, it's always because rsync views the path to the file as different from the path in my --exclude option. Adding --list-only after the other options often shows this difference.
    – Sotto Voce
    Feb 2 at 13:56
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    The file/path names for the --include and --exclude options are not necessarily relative to the source. They can start with / to anchor them to the source, or omit it to match at any point. Your example of path/file for a source directory of /src could match /src/this/is/my/path/file or /src/path/file or any other combination as long as it contains path/file Feb 3 at 18:07
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    @vfclists yes exactly Feb 5 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


The -a/--archive option doesn't override --exclude. In my own rsync commands I've found that when my --exclude doesn't seem to work it's always because rsync sees the path to the file(s) as different from the path I put in my --exclude argument.

I've found that adding the --list-only after my other options will show rsync's path to the file and usually makes the discrepancy visible.

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