Remote backup software (2024-02-17)

I noticed on the bottom of the following and wanted to learn more: rsync / sftp / scp / borg / rclone / restic / git-annex

So I asked ChatGPT 4:

Please compare these tools: rsync, sftp, scp, borg, rclone, restic, git-annex


Feature rsync sftp scp borg rclone restic git-annex
Primary Use Case File syncing Secure transfer Secure transfer Backup Cloud storage Backup File management
Technology Differential SSH SSH Deduplication Cloud APIs Deduplication Git
Performance High Medium Medium High Varies High Varies
Security SSH support High High Encryption Encryption Encryption Git security
Ease of Use Command-line Command-line/GUI Command-line Command-line Command-line Command-line Command-line
Written In C - - Python Go Go Haskell
Year Created 1996 1997 1995 2015 2013 2014 2010
Last Updated 2023 2023 2023 2023 2023 2023 2023

longer answer:

Comparing tools like rsync, sftp, scp, borg, rclone, restic, and git-annex involves looking at several factors such as their primary use case, underlying technology, performance, security features, and ease of use. Here’s a brief overview and comparison of these tools:

1. rsync

  • Primary Use Case: Efficiently transferring and synchronizing files across systems or locations while minimizing data transfer using differential transfer technology.
  • Technology: Uses a unique algorithm to compare differences between source and destination, transferring only the changed parts of files.
  • Performance: Very efficient for updating files over a network.
  • Security: Supports SSH for secure transfers.
  • Ease of Use: Command-line tool with a variety of options for different needs.

2. sftp (SSH File Transfer Protocol)

  • Primary Use Case: Secure file transfer protocol part of SSH protocol suite, used for transferring files over a secure connection.
  • Technology: Operates over secure shell (SSH) to ensure encrypted transfers.
  • Performance: Generally slower than rsync for synchronizing large numbers of files due to encryption overhead.
  • Security: High, as it encrypts both commands and data.
  • Ease of Use: Accessed via command line or through various GUI applications.

3. scp (Secure Copy Protocol)

  • Primary Use Case: Securely transferring files between hosts on a network.
  • Technology: Uses SSH for data transfer and provides the same level of security.
  • Performance: Efficient for single files or small sets of files, less so for a large number of files.
  • Security: High, using SSH encryption.
  • Ease of Use: Simple command-line syntax, but lacks the flexibility and efficiency of rsync for complex synchronization tasks.

4. borg

  • Primary Use Case: Deduplicating archiver with compression and encryption, designed for efficient and secure backup.
  • Technology: Deduplication technology to save space, supports compression and encryption.
  • Performance: High efficiency in storage due to deduplication and compression.
  • Security: Supports encryption.
  • Ease of Use: Command-line interface with a focus on backup.

5. rclone

  • Primary Use Case: Command-line program to manage files on cloud storage and other high latency environments.
  • Technology: Supports a wide variety of cloud services, providing tools for transferring, syncing, and managing data.
  • Performance: Performance varies based on network and service but provides efficient transfer mechanisms.
  • Security: Supports encryption and has backend support for encrypted cloud storage.
  • Ease of Use: Feature-rich command-line tool with extensive documentation.

6. restic

  • Primary Use Case: Modern backup program that can back up your files from Linux, BSD, Mac and Windows to many different storage types, including self-hosted and cloud services.
  • Technology: Emphasizes ease of use and security. Uses deduplication, encryption, and compression to efficiently and securely back up data.
  • Performance: Efficient storage and retrieval through deduplication.
  • Security: Encrypted backups ensure security.
  • Ease of Use: Simple command-line interface, designed for ease of setup and automation.

7. git-annex

  • Primary Use Case: Managing files with git, without checking the file contents into git. Useful for handling large files or files with binary data.
  • Technology: Built on top of Git, allowing management of large files separately from the git repository while still using git’s features for versioning and tracking.
  • Performance: Depends on the underlying git performance, not designed for speed in transferring files but for versioning and tracking.
  • Security: Inherits Git’s security model, but not specifically designed for secure file transfer.
  • Ease of Use: More complex due to its integration with Git, aimed at users familiar with Git workflows.


  • For file synchronization and efficient network transfers, rsync is often the go-to choice.
  • For secure file transfers with encryption, sftp and scp are straightforward options.
  • For backups, especially with deduplication and encryption, borg and restic offer robust solutions.
  • rclone is ideal for managing files across a wide range of cloud storage services.
  • git-annex is specialized for versioning and managing large files within a git repository.

Each tool has its strengths and is optimized for specific scenarios, so the best choice depends on your specific needs, such as whether you’re focusing on secure file transfer, backup, or managing large files with version control.


I love everything about git annex and look forward to trying it ASAP.