Managing Your Cloud-Primarily based Information Storage with Rclone | by Chaim Rand | Nov, 2023

Learn how to optimize information switch throughout a number of object storage methods

Photograph by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

As firms grow to be increasingly depending on cloud-based storage options, it’s crucial that they’ve the suitable instruments and strategies for efficient administration of their big data. In earlier posts (e.g., here and here) we’ve explored a number of completely different strategies for retrieving information from cloud storage and demonstrated their effectiveness at several types of duties. We discovered that probably the most optimum device can differ primarily based on the particular activity at hand (e.g., file format, dimension of information recordsdata, information entry sample) and the metrics that we want to optimize (e.g., latency, pace, or value). On this publish, we discover yet one more fashionable device for cloud-based storage administration — typically referred to as “the Swiss military knife of cloud storage” — the rclone command-line utility. Supporting greater than 70 storage service providers, rclone helps comparable performance to vendor-specific storage administration functions similar to AWS CLI (for Amazon S3) and gsutil (for Google Storage). However does it carry out properly sufficient to represent a viable various? Are there conditions wherein rclone could be the device of alternative? Within the following sections we are going to exhibit rclone’s utilization, assess its efficiency, and spotlight its worth in a specific use-case — transferring information throughout completely different object storage methods.


This publish shouldn’t be, by any means, supposed to exchange the official rclone documentation. Neither is it supposed to be an endorsement of using rclone or any of the opposite instruments we must always point out. Your best option on your cloud-based information administration will significantly rely upon the small print of your mission and must be made following thorough, use-case particular testing. Please remember to re-evaluate the statements we make towards the hottest instruments obtainable on the time you might be studying this.

The next command line makes use of rclone sync as a way to sync the contents of a cloud-based object-storage path with an area listing. This instance demonstrates using the Amazon S3 storage service however might simply as simply have used a distinct cloud storage service.

rclone sync -P 
--transfers 4
--multi-thread-streams 4
S3store:my-bucket/my_files ./my_files

The rclone command has dozens of flags for programming its conduct. The -P flag outputs the progress of the info switch together with the switch fee and total time. Within the command above we included two (of the various) controls that may affect rclone’s runtime efficiency: The transfers flag determines the utmost variety of recordsdata to obtain concurrently and multi-thread-streams determines the utmost variety of threads to make use of to switch a single file. Right here we’ve left each at their default values (4).

Rclone’s performance depends on the suitable definition of the rclone configuration file. Under we exhibit the definition of the distant S3store object storage location used within the command line above.

kind = s3
supplier = AWS
access_key_id = <id>
secret_access_key = <key>
area = us-east-1

Now that we’ve seen rclone in motion, the query that arises is whether or not it offers any worth over the opposite cloud storage administration instruments which are on the market similar to the favored AWS CLI. Within the subsequent two sections we are going to consider the efficiency of rclone in comparison with a few of its alternate options in two eventualities that we’ve explored intimately in our earlier posts: 1) downloading a 2 GB file and a couple of) downloading lots of of 1 MB recordsdata.

Use Case 1: Downloading a Massive File

The command line beneath makes use of the AWS CLI to obtain a 2 GB file from Amazon S3. That is simply one of many a lot of strategies we evaluated in a previous post. We use the linux time command to measure the efficiency.

time aws s3 cp s3://my-bucket/2GB.bin .

The reported obtain time amounted to roughly 26 seconds (i.e., ~79 MB/s). Needless to say this worth was calculated on our personal native PC and might differ significantly from one runtime surroundings to a different. The equal rclone copy command seems beneath:

rclone sync -P S3store:my-bucket/2GB.bin .

In our setup, we discovered the rclone obtain time to be greater than two occasions slower than the usual AWS CLI. It’s extremely possible that this could possibly be improved considerably by acceptable tuning of the rclone management flags.

Use Case 2: Downloading a Massive Variety of Small Information

On this use case we consider the runtime efficiency of downloading 800 comparatively small recordsdata of dimension 1 MB every. In a previous blog post we mentioned this use case within the context of streaming information samples to a deep-learning coaching workload and demonstrated the superior efficiency of s5cmd beast mode. In beast mode we create a file with an inventory of object-file operations which s5cmd performs in utilizing multiple parallel workers (256 by default). The s5cmd beast mode choice is demonstrated beneath:

time s5cmd --run cmds.txt

The cmds.txt file accommodates an inventory of 800 strains of the shape:

cp s3://my-bucket/small_files/<i>.jpg <local_path>/<i>.jpg

The s5cmd command took a median time of 9.3 seconds (averaged over ten trials).

Rclone helps a performance much like s5cmd’s beast mode with the files-from command line choice. Under we run rclone copy on our 800 recordsdata with the transfers worth set to 256 to match the default concurrency settings of s5cmd.

rclone -P --transfers 256 --files-from recordsdata.txt S3store:my-bucket /my-local

The recordsdata.txt file accommodates 800 strains of the shape:


The rclone copy of our 800 recordsdata took a median of 8.5 seconds, barely lower than s5cmd (averaged over ten trials).

We acknowledge that the outcomes demonstrated so far will not be sufficient to persuade you to favor rclone over your current instruments. Within the subsequent part we are going to describe a use case that highlights one of many potential benefits of rclone.

Nowadays it isn’t unusual for improvement groups to keep up their information in multiple object retailer. The motivation behind this could possibly be the necessity to defend towards the opportunity of a storage failure or the choice to make use of data-processing choices from a number of cloud service suppliers. For instance, your answer for AI improvement would possibly depend on coaching your fashions within the AWS utilizing information in Amazon S3 and working information analytics in Microsoft Azure utilizing the identical information saved in Azure Storage. Moreover, you might wish to keep a duplicate of your information in an area storage infrastructure similar to FlashBlade, Cloudian, or VAST. These circumstances require the flexibility to switch and synchronize your information between a number of object shops in a safe, dependable, and well timed vogue.

Some cloud service suppliers supply devoted providers for such functions. Nonetheless, these don’t all the time deal with the exact wants of your mission or might not allow you the extent of management you need. For instance, Google Storage Transfer excels at speedy migration of the entire information inside a specified storage folder, however doesn’t (as of the time of this writing) assist transferring a particular subset of recordsdata from inside it.

Another choice we might think about could be to use our current information administration in direction of this function. The issue with that is that instruments similar to AWS CLI and s5cmd don’t (as of the time of this writing) assist specifying completely different access settings and security-credentials for the supply and goal storage methods. Thus, migrating information between storage areas requires transferring it to an intermediate (non permanent) location. Within the command beneath we mix using s5cmd and AWS CLI to repeat a file from Amazon S3 to Google Storage by way of system reminiscence and utilizing Linux piping:

s5cmd cat s3://my-bucket/file 
| aws s3 cp --endpoint-url
--profile gcp - s3://gs-bucket/file

Whereas this can be a reputable, albeit clumsy approach of transferring a single file, in apply, we may have the flexibility to switch many thousands and thousands of recordsdata. To assist this, we would wish so as to add an extra layer for spawning and managing a number of parallel staff/processors. Issues might get ugly fairly shortly.

Information Switch with Rclone

Opposite to instruments like AWS CLI and s5cmd, rclone permits us to specify completely different entry settings for the supply and goal. Within the following rclone config file we add settings for Google Cloud Storage entry:

kind = s3
supplier = AWS
access_key_id = <id>
secret_access_key = <key>

kind = google cloud storage
supplier = GCS
access_key_id = <id>
secret_access_key = <key>
endpoint =

Transferring a single file between storage methods has the identical format as copying it to an area listing:

rclone copy -P S3store:my-bucket/file GSstore:gs-bucket/file

Nonetheless, the actual energy of rclone comes from combining this characteristic with the files-from choice described above. Quite than having to orchestrate a customized answer for parallelizing the info migration, we will switch an extended checklist of recordsdata utilizing a single command:

rclone copy -P --transfers 256 --files-from recordsdata.txt 
S3store:my-bucket/file GSstore:gs-bucket/file

In apply, we will additional speed up the info migration by parsing the checklist of object recordsdata into smaller lists (e.g., with 10,000 recordsdata every) and working every checklist on a separate compute useful resource. Whereas the exact affect of this sort of answer will differ from mission to mission, it may present a big increase to the pace and effectivity of your improvement.

On this publish we’ve explored cloud-based storage administration utilizing rclone and demonstrated its software to the problem of sustaining and synchronizing information throughout a number of storage methods. There are undoubtedly many different options for information switch. However there isn’t a questioning the comfort and class of the rclone-based methodology.

This is only one of many posts that we’ve written on the subject of maximizing the effectivity of cloud-based storage options. Make sure to take a look at a few of our other posts on this necessary matter.

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