Rsyncbench, an rsync benchmarking tool

Background info:
I'm currently in the process of evaluating (V)PS hosting providers and backup solutions. The idea being: I want a (V)PS to run my stuff, which doesn't need much disk space,
but in the meantime it might be a good idea to look for online backup solutions (oops did I say "online"? I meant "cloud"), like on the (V)PS itself, or maybe as a separate solution.
But I've got some diverse amount of data (my personal data is mostly a lot of small plaintext files, my mom has a windows VM for which I considered syncing the entire vdi file)
At this point the biggest contenders are Linode (which offers quite some flexibility and management tools, but becomes expensive when you want extra disk space (2$/month*GB), Rackspace backup gives you 10GB for 5$/month, but they have nice backup tools so I could only backup the important files from within the windows VM (~200MB), and then there's Hetzner, which offers powerful physical private servers with a lot of storage (160GB) for 29eur/month, but less flexibility (I.e. kvm-over-ip costs an extra 15eur/month)

Another issue, given the limited capacity of Belgian internet connections, I needed to figure out how much bandwith rsync really needs, so I can calculate if the duration of a backup run including syncing the full vdi file is still reasonable.

I couldn't find an rsync benchmarking tool, so I wrote my own.


  • simple
  • non invasive: you specify the target and destination hosts (just localhost is fine too), and file locations
  • measures time spent, bytes sent (measured with tcpdump), and data sent (rsync's statistics which takes compression into account)
  • supports plugins
  • generates png graphs using Gnuplot
  • two current plugins: one using files of various sizes, both randomly generated (/dev/urandom) and easily compressable (/dev/zero), does some use cases like initial sync, second sync (no-op), and syncing with a data block appended and prepended. The other plugin collects vdi files from rsnapshot directories and measures the rsyncing from each image to the next


  • no plugins yet for other use cases then my own (no file removal, renaming, working with multiple files, working with small files, ...)
  • doesn't test a lot of different file sizes and such
  • not as finished as my other projects (no Makefile, graphs are rough. but I have no time to go dive further in the gnuplot stuff)
  • the benchmarking process takes a long time, due to a lot of juggling with big files. some steps can be optimized

Here is an example graph:

The first entry on the x-asis is on 1MiB, even though it seems like 0MiB because of the scale.
Notice how rsync is pretty efficient when it has nothing to do (no-op), and the sizes of transmitted data correspond exactly to what has changed (even if you prepend data in the beginning and all data "moves to the back", rsync notices this)
The compressed numbers (reported by rsync) are very close to the real numbers measured with tcpdump. Which makes sense, random data is not easy to compress. OTOH, if i take the graph of the case where I sync images which are built from /dev/zero, the story similar so either rsyncs compression sucks (which I find hard to believe), or the guy on #rsync who told me those numbers are about the compressed data was wrong (maybe) or I just messed up something (likely)

So, I hope this is useful to someone, and maybe others can clone the project and improve it further. I found it weird that I couldn't find an rsync benchmarking tool, because rsync's algorithm is non-obvious and it can be really interesting to understand all its characteristics in various use cases.

Project page: rsyncbench on Github

Oh and about my backups? Rsyncing the different vdi files takes upto a few hundreds of MB's, not an ideal solution given the upload speeds in Belgium.
I'll figure out something else. Like backing up from inside windows (maybe using the rackspace service), or mounting the vdi and rsyncing the data from there.

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