Synchronize files through the sneakernet

synchronization, removable, drive, sneakernet, rsync, removable-drives
pip install sneakersync==1.2.2



Synchronize files through the sneakernet, i.e. using a removable drive.


  • rsync. The version must support extended attributes (-X flag).
  • A removable drive with a filesystem matching the source and target computers.
  • Feet or a compatible mean of transportation of the removable drive between computers.


Simply run pip install sneakersync.


The configuration is a YAML-formatted file that contains modules (directories to be synchronized) and filters (rules that exclude or include files or directories). Each module must contain a root entry (the top-level path to be synchronized) and may contain filters; if no filter is specified, all files and directories below the root of the module are included. Filters are defined by a list of include or exclude directives.

A minimal example which synchronizes the home folder of a user would look like:

  - root: /home/john.doe

To exclude a directory (and its content) and files with a given extension from a module, add a filters directive:

  - root: /home/john.doe
      - exclude: /home/john.doe/.firefox/caches
      - exclude: *.pyc

To filter entries from all modules, use the top-level filters directive:

  - root: /home/john.doe
  - root: /home/jane.blogs
  - exclude: .firefox/caches

Filters defined at the top-level will have priority over module-level filters.


  1. Create a filesystem on a removable drive that matches the source and target computers.
  2. Optional, but highly recommended: encrypt your removable drive.
  3. Store the configuration in a file named sneakersync.cfg on the root of the drive.
  4. To send data, run sneakersync send <PATH_TO_YOUR_DRIVE>.
  5. Move your drive to the other computer and plug it in.
  6. To receive data, run sneakersync receive <PATH_TO_YOUR_DRIVE>.

Known limitations:

  • The last access time (atime) is not preserved: rsync needs to access files in order to transfer them.
  • The creation / meta-data change time (ctime) is not preserved: this attribute is not user-modifiable.