Getting rsync on Windows

There are at least three free sources for a command-line version of rsync for Windows. No matter where you get it from I can guarantee you’ll find it extremely useful.

The rsync tool is an incredibly useful utility for transferring files and directories between machines. It is a common component of many homegrown backup solutions on Unix and Unix-like systems such as Linux.

There are 3 main sources for rsync on Windows:

Cygwin, the grandfather of Unix-like emulators on Windows.

The cwrsync bundle, which is really just a repackaging of Cygwin’s rsync.

Msys, a sub-project of MinGW (Minimalist GNU for Windows) that uses an alternative architecture not dependent upon Cygwin.

Over the last few years I’ve come to standardize all my own systems on Msys, mostly because it’s lighter weight and faster to deploy but also because the Cygwin installer won’t create a setup that can be used by multiple users on a Windows 7 system (due to security policy changes introduced by Microsoft in Windows 7 that the installer isn’t programmed to handle).

The MinGW developer’s preferred way for you to deploy Msys is to use their new min-gw-get-setup.exe gui installer. Until recently I avoided this, but with the number of updates available now having reached critical mass I’ve come to “see the light”. The nice thing about the new installer is that it still gives you the option of only installing the Msys base components, which is all you’ll really need if you’re only interested in getting the utilities.

There’s currently a bug in the new MinGW installer that results in its failing to create shortcuts in the start menu and on the desktop for the Msys shell (basically a bash shell window launched inside cmd.exe). Creating those should be easy enough for any seasoned Windows admin however (all you need to do is to remember that the “All Users” Start Menu is now found under “C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu”). I usually create the shortcut to msys.bat right under the default install location of “C:\MinGW\msys\1.0” and apply the newer Msys.ico. After that it’s a simple matter to copy the shortcut to my Desktop and into the Start Menu manually.

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).