What is Rclone?

Rclone, sometimes known as rsync for the cloud, is a tool written in Go which is used to transfer data to or from a computer and a cloud hosted data storage center. Rclone can connect to several different cloud storage centers such as: Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon S3, Backblaze B2, Dropbox, Google Cloud Storage, Google Drive, Openstack Swift, Microsoft Onedrive, and others. Rclone can be used on the CRC front ends to upload/download data from your Google Drive or other Cloud Hosted Data storage to your AFS or /scratch spaces.

Setup and Configuration

Rclone is installed as a module, however it requires a configuration step for each user before it can be used.

To get access to rclone, you first need to load the module.:

module load rclone

For an in-depth look into rlcone, view the manual page:

man rclone


Rclone stores the configation of remotes (cloud storage entities) by default within ~/.config/rclone. If you remove your ~/.config directory you will need to reconfigure any remotes you had previously.


Prior to use, Rclone must be configured to work with your preferred cloud storage. The CRC has tested usage with both Box and Google Drive. Others may work but their functionality has not been tested.

For the following instructions, Rclone will be configured to work with Google Drive. The other forms of cloud storage may vary slightly in terms of configuration, but the general process is still the same.

  • To start the configuration of Rclone, type:

rclone config
  • As this is the first time using Rclone, type N into the prompt to create a new ‘remote’. In Rclone, a remote is the term for remote storage, so in this case, the remote will be a Google Drive object.

$ rclone config
No remotes found - make a new one
n) New remote
s) Set configuration password
q) Quit config
  • After pressing N and hitting enter, the prompt will ask you for a Name. A good name to enter is gdrv to easily remember that this is your Google Drive, however you can choose any name you like. Once you entered the name and pressed Enter, the prompt will then ask which type of cloud storage remote is being created. Each type has an “alias”, so to select Google Drive type drive or 13 and press enter.

name> gdrv
Type of storage to configure.
Enter a string value. Press Enter for the default ("").
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
 1 / 1Fichier
   \ "fichier"
 2 / Alias for an existing remote
   \ "alias"
 3 / Amazon Drive
   \ "amazon cloud drive"
 4 / Amazon S3 Compliant Storage Provider (AWS, Alibaba, Ceph, Digital Ocean, Dreamhost, IBM COS, Minio, etc)
   \ "s3"
 5 / Backblaze B2
   \ "b2"
 6 / Box
   \ "box"
 7 / Cache a remote
   \ "cache"
 8 / Citrix Sharefile
   \ "sharefile"
 9 / Dropbox
   \ "dropbox"
10 / Encrypt/Decrypt a remote
   \ "crypt"
11 / FTP Connection
   \ "ftp"
12 / Google Cloud Storage (this is not Google Drive)
   \ "google cloud storage"
13 / Google Drive
   \ "drive"
14 / Google Photos
   \ "google photos"
15 / Hubic
   \ "hubic"
16 / In memory object storage system.
   \ "memory"
17 / Jottacloud
   \ "jottacloud"
18 / Koofr
   \ "koofr"
19 / Local Disk
   \ "local"
20 / Mail.ru Cloud
   \ "mailru"
21 / Mega
   \ "mega"
22 / Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
   \ "azureblob"
23 / Microsoft OneDrive
   \ "onedrive"
24 / OpenDrive
   \ "opendrive"
25 / OpenStack Swift (Rackspace Cloud Files, Memset Memstore, OVH)
   \ "swift"
26 / Pcloud
   \ "pcloud"
27 / Put.io
   \ "putio"
28 / QingCloud Object Storage
   \ "qingstor"
29 / SSH/SFTP Connection
   \ "sftp"
30 / Sugarsync
   \ "sugarsync"
31 / Tardigrade Decentralized Cloud Storage
   \ "tardigrade"
32 / Transparently chunk/split large files
   \ "chunker"
33 / Union merges the contents of several upstream fs
   \ "union"
34 / Webdav
   \ "webdav"
35 / Yandex Disk
   \ "yandex"
36 / http Connection
   \ "http"
37 / premiumize.me
   \ "premiumizeme"
38 / seafile
   \ "seafile"

Next, the prompt will ask you for a Google Applications Id and Secret, these fields can be left blank by just pressing Enter for each without typing anything into the field.


If you leave the Google Application Client ID blank, you may be rate limited with large downloads and uploads. If you are concerned about performance with a large amount of files or larger files, you may consider setting up your own Google Application Client ID. To do so, see https://rclone.org/drive/#making-your-own-client-id.

The prompt then asks for the scope of its use within Google Drive. To upload and download files, type 1.

Scope that rclone should use when requesting access from drive.
Enter a string value. Press Enter for the default ("").
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
 1 / Full access all files, excluding Application Data Folder.
   \ "drive"
 2 / Read-only access to file metadata and file contents.
   \ "drive.readonly"
   / Access to files created by rclone only.
 3 | These are visible in the drive website.
   | File authorization is revoked when the user deauthorizes the app.
   \ "drive.file"
   / Allows read and write access to the Application Data folder.
 4 | This is not visible in the drive website.
   \ "drive.appfolder"
   / Allows read-only access to file metadata but
 5 | does not allow any access to read or download file content.
   \ "drive.metadata.readonly"
scope> 1

The ID of the root folder will now be asked for, leave this section blank. Just press Enter. Also leave the Service Account Credentials blank. Press Enter.

Next the prompt will ask if you’d like to edit any advanced configurations, we reccomend going with the default of N.:

Edit advanced config? (y/n)
y) Yes
n) No (default)
y/n> N

Now the prompt will ask if you would like to use auto config, since the CRC front ends are typically ‘headless’ through a normal ssh connection, type N.

  • The prompt will then display a web address, right click on this web address and select Copy Link. Then go to an Internet Browser and past this address into it.

  • When asked, be sure to select the Google Account who’s Drive you wish to use, most likely this should be your ND account.

  • With the link pasted into the browser, you will then login to your ND account using your Netid and password. Then click on Allow to let Rclone have access to your Google Drive.

Remote config
Use auto config?
* Say Y if not sure
* Say N if you are working on a remote or headless machine
y) Yes (default)
n) No
y/n> N
  • Google will then provide a code that needs to be copied and pasted into the Rclone prompt running on the front end. To paste the code into your terminal, press Ctrl, Shift and V at the same time.

  • When asked if you would like to set this as a team drive, type N.

  • Now you will be asked to verify the new remote, press Y, and you can then press Q to exit the configuration. Rclone is now ready to use your Google Drive.

Further information can be found on the Rclone Google Drive page.

Rclone Commands

There are a few commands that will be used frequently which will be described here. To see more commands, read the manual page by typing ‘man ./rclone.1’ while inside the Rclone directory.

Uploading Files from CRC to Google Drive

  • To upload files from the CRC to Google Drive, use the copy command in the following format, assuming your remote is called “gdrv”:

rclone copy file1.txt gdrv:file1.txt
  • This will place the file or directory specified into your Google Drive account.

  • If you wish to specify a directory for the files to be put into once inside Google Drive, type the directory desired after the name of your Google Drive Remote which was created during configuration.

rclone copy file.txt gdrv:Desired_Directory/file.txt

Accelerating Upload

The upload speed of a file or directory can be very, very slow. To overcome this, Rclone can take a few options or parameters to dramatically increase upload speed.

rclone --transfers=10 --checkers=10 --drive-chunk-size=16384k copy /foo/bar/source [Name of Remote]:Destination_Directory
  • –transfers indicates the number of parallel file transfer streams to occur at once. This number can be oversubscribed without damaging results. To have optimal upload speeds, you must increase the size of your files and the number of transfers and checkers.

    • If you have 64 files to upload, set –transfers=32

    • –checkers indicates the number of parallel file checkers. These checkers check through all of the files to be uploaded, and comparing it against what is already in your Google Drive. This way, if you have a few of the same files, they will not be uploaded.

    • –drive–chunk-size drive chunk size specifies how much memory (RAM) will be used for the files during upload. It is noted in rclone documentation that the higher the drive chunk size, the faster the upload. However, this will quickly increase memory usage during the upload so caution should be used. A good amount to specify is 16384k, which is 16 MB. The default is 8MB, so this will nearly double the performance with just this optimization.

  • See the examples below for more information.

Downloading Files from Google Drive

  • Downloading data from Google Drive (or any other cloud service) is the same process as uploading, but switching the destination and the source. So, to download data use the following command:

rclone copy [Name of Remote]:Source_Directory foo/bar/Local_Destination_Directory
  • It is not absolutely necessary to add flags to increase performance unlike uploading. There is not a significant improvement from the default download speed.

Other Useful Rclone Commands

  • It may be useful to view the contents of your Google Drive before uploading or downloading files. To do so without having to use a browser, use the following commands:

rclone lsd [Name of Remote]:(Optional Directory Name)
  • This will show the directory listing for your Google Drive’s ‘home’ directory. To view a specific directory listing you can append the directory name after the colon ( [Name of Remote]:Directory )

    • Notice the colon after the Remote, this is necessary for the proper execution of the command, whether or not you are specifying a specific directory.

    • This is helpful to quickly see the names of your directories before using the next command.

rclone ls [Name of Remote]:(Optional Directory)
  • This command will show you the entire listing recursively of the Google Drive.


This may take a while to complete, as it will search every directory and list every file in your Google Drive. It may be faster to first find the directory names using rclone lsd, and then using the directory name to view the contents.

rclone ls [Name of Remote]:My_Uploads -- This will show all contents of the My_Uploads directory and sub-directories.
rclone [command] --dry-run [Name of Remote]:
  • This flag will allow you to test the command without having any consequences if there is a mistake. It is a good testing tool to view what would happen, without it actually happening.


  • The following are examples of using some of the Rclone commands:

  • An example of Downloading files from Google Drive to the CRC:

[12:29 @crcfe01 ~/upload_testing]
$ rclone copy gdrv:Upload_testing . --verbose
2018/08/07 12:29:21 INFO  : Local file system at /afs/crc.nd.edu/user/user/upload_testing: Waiting for checks to finish
2018/08/07 12:29:21 INFO  : Local file system at /afs/crc.nd.edu/user/user/upload_testing: Waiting for transfers to finish
2018/08/07 12:30:17 INFO  :
Transferred:   3.527 GBytes (57.723 MBytes/s)
Errors:                 0
Checks:                 0
Transferred:            0
Elapsed time:      1m2.5s

test.img: 84% /3.000G, 48.737M/s, 9s
debian.img: 100% /1.000G, 3.790M/s, 0s
  • An example of Uploading files from the CRC to Google Drive, using the optimized approach:

[12:37 @crcfe01 ~/upload_testing]
$ rclone --transfers=5 --checkers=5 --drive-chunk-size=16384k --verbose copy ~/upload_testing/ gdrv:Upload_testing
2018/08/07 12:39:30 INFO  : Google drive root 'Upload_testing': Waiting for checks to finish
2018/08/07 12:39:30 INFO  : Google drive root 'Upload_testing': Waiting for transfers to finish
2018/08/07 12:40:07 INFO  : debian.img: Copied (new)
2018/08/07 12:40:30 INFO  :
Transferred:   1.750 GBytes (29.694 MBytes/s)
Errors:                 0
Checks:                 0
Transferred:            1
Elapsed time:      1m0.3s

test.img: 24% /3.000G, 7.519M/s, 5m6s
[ output clipped ]
  • An example of viewing the contents of a directory within Google Drive while on a Front end machine:

[12:42 @crcfe01 ~/upload_testing]
$ rclone ls gdrv:Upload_testing
1073741856 debian.img
3221225505 test.img