How to exclude file when using scp command recursively nixCraft Updated Tutorials/Posts

I need to copy all the *.c files from local laptop named hostA to hostB including all directories. I am using the following scp command but do not know how to exclude specific files (such as *.out):
$ scp -r ~/projects/ user@hostB:/home/delta/projects/
How do I tell scp command to exclude particular file or directory at the Linux/Unix command line?

One can use scp command to securely copy files between hosts on a network. It uses ssh for data transfer and authentication purpose. Typical scp command syntax is as follows:
scp file1 user@host:/path/to/dest/
scp -r /path/to/source/ user@host:/path/to/dest/
scp [options] /dir/to/source/ user@host:/dir/to/dest/

Scp exclude files

I don’t think so you can filter or exclude files when using scp command. However, there is a great workaround to exclude files and copy it securely using ssh. This page explains how to filter or excludes files when using scp to copy a directory recursively.

How to use rsync command to exclude files

The syntax is:
rsync -av -e ssh --exclude='*.out' /path/to/source/ user@hostB:/path/to/dest/

  1. -a : Recurse into directories i.e. copy all files and subdirectories. Also, turn on archive mode and all other options (-rlptgoD)
  2. -v : Verbose output
  3. -e ssh : Use ssh for remote shell so everything gets encrypted
  4. --exclude='*.out' : exclude files matching PATTERN e.g. *.out or *.c and so on.

Example of rsync command

In this example copy all file recursively from ~/virt/ directory but exclude all *.new files:
$ rsync -av -e ssh --exclude='*.new' ~/virt/ root@centos7:/tmp
Sample outputs:

Scp exclude files but using rsync exclude command
rsync command in action

Rsync command will fail if rsync not found on the remote server. In that case try the following scp command that uses bash shell pattern matching in the current directory (it won’t work with the -r option):
$ ls
Sample outputs:

centos71.log centos71.qcow2 meta-data user-data

Copy everything in the current directory except .new file(s):
$ shopt -s extglob
$ scp !(*.new) root@centos7:/tmp/

Sample outputs:

centos71.log 100% 4262 1.3MB/s 00:00 centos71.qcow2 100% 836MB 32.7MB/s 00:25 meta-data 100% 47 18.5KB/s 00:00 user-data 100% 1543 569.7KB/s 00:00

Understanding extglob shell option to exclude files with scp and rsync

If the extglob bash shell option is enabled using the shopt command (builtin), several extended pattern matching operators are recognized by the Linux system as follows:

Operators Description
?(pattern-list) Matches zero or one occurrence of the given patterns
*(pattern-list) Matches zero or more occurrences of the given patterns
+(pattern-list) Matches one or more occurrences of the given patterns
@(pattern-list) Matches one of the given patterns
!(pattern-list) Matches anything except one of the given patterns


This page showed you how to exclude files when copying files between hosts on a network under Linux or Unix-like operating systems. See the following man pages for more information:
$ man 1 rsync
$ man bash
$ man 1 scp

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

Posted by Web Monkey