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The rsync algorithm

Andrew Tridgell         Paul Mackerras
Department of Computer Science
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia


This report presents an algorithm for updating a file on one machine to be identical to a file on another machine. We assume that the two machines are connected by a low-bandwidth high-latency bi-directional communications link. The algorithm identifies parts of the source file which are identical to some part of the destination file, and only sends those parts which cannot be matched in this way. Effectively, the algorithm computes a set of differences without having both files on the same machine. The algorithm works best when the files are similar, but will also function correctly and reasonably efficiently when the files are quite different.


Andrew Tridgell