Installing Rclone on the Raspberry Pi?

Rclone is a powerful command-line program for syncing files to and from cloud storage services. With Rclone installed on your Raspberry Pi, you can mount cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox as a local drive for convenient file transfers.

Installing Rclone on the Raspberry Pi?

Benefits of Using Rclone on the Raspberry Pi

Installing Rclone on your Pi brings several benefits:

  • Sync files between your Pi and various cloud services without using up local storage space
  • Mount cloud storage as a local drive for fast, convenient file transfers
  • Automate large file transfers with rsync and Cron
  • Encrypt sensitive data before backing it up to the cloud
  • Stream media files directly from cloud storage
  • Backup Raspberry Pi SD card images to the cloud

Installing Rclone on the Raspberry Pi

Installing Rclone is simple thanks to the precompiled binary for ARM processors. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Download and Install the Binary

  1. SSH into your Pi and update the package manager:

sudo apt update

  1. sudo apt upgrade
  2. Install the dependencies required to add a new repository:
  3. sudo apt install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common
  4. Add the repository GPG key:
  5. curl | sudo bash
  6. Verify the installation with:
  7. rclone version

Once you have Rclone installed, it’s time to configure a cloud storage provider…

Configure a Cloud Storage Provider

Rclone supports over 30 cloud storage providers. Here are examples for the most popular options:

Google Drive

  1. Run rclone config
  2. Choose “n) New remote”
  3. Set a name like “google”
  4. Select “11” for Google Drive
  5. Follow the prompts to log into your Google account
  6. Optionally enable Team Drives


  1. Run rclone config
  2. Choose “n) New remote”
  3. Set a name like “dropbox”
  4. Select “4” for Dropbox
  5. Follow the prompts to get a verification code and paste it

Amazon S3

  1. Run rclone config
  2. Select “s3” for the “new remote”
  3. Enter an arbitrary name
  4. Supply your AWS credentials

Once configured, test uploading/syncing with rclone copy before mounting the remote.

Mount Cloud Storage as a Drive

With Rclone configured, you can now mount your cloud storage as a drive with Linux’s mount command. This makes transferring files extremely easy.

Here’s the basic syntax:

rclone mount remote-name:path/to/folder local-mount-point

For example:

rclone mount google:backup /mnt/gdrive

This will mount the backup folder in your Google Drive to /mnt/gdrive on your Pi.

Some key notes about mounting cloud storage:

  • You must create the local mount point folder first with mkdir
  • Add –vfs-cache-mode writes to enable write support
  • Use fusermount -u /mnt/foo to unmount the drive when done
  • Mount on boot by adding to /etc/fstab

With cloud storage mounted as a local folder, you can now seamlessly transfer files to services like Google Drive without needing to upload/download each time!

Optimizing Rclone on the Pi

Here are some tips for getting the best performance out of Rclone on your Raspberry Pi:

Benchmark Remotes

Test the upload and download speeds for your configured cloud storage remotes:rclone bench remote-name

This will give you an idea of the real-world speeds you can expect.

Enable the VFS Cache

The –vfs-cache-mode parameter drastically improves transfer speeds by caching file metadata and contents in memory.

Make sure to add it when mounting cloud storage:

rclone mount remote-name:path /mnt/foo –vfs-cache-mode writes

Set Transfer Limits

If you experience crashes or instability from maxing out the Pi’s limited resources, set bandwidth limits with –bwlimit:

rclone copy /local/files remote-name:path –bwlimit 10M

This example limits the transfer speed to 10 megabits per second.

Batch and Schedule Transfers

For large transfers, use rclone copy in Bash scripts to transfer batches of files. Schedule the scripts with cron to run unattended:



rclone copy /home/pi/files remote-name:backup –bwlimit 5M

This will copy the “files” folder to the cloud each day.

By optimizing Rclone and using automation, you can painlessly back up and sync terabytes of data from your Pi!

Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways from this guide:

  • Rclone enables powerful file transfers between a Raspberry Pi and the cloud – Seamlessly sync, backup, and transfer files without manual uploads or downloads.
  • Dozens of cloud providers are supported – Integrate your Pi with Google Drive, S3, Dropbox, OneDrive, and many more cloud services.
  • Mounting cloud storage lets you access files like a local drive – Use the rclone mount command to work with remote files as if they were directly attached to your Pi.
  • Advanced options provide tuning and optimization – Tweak performance with bandwidth limits, disable partial transfers, enable caching, and use .rclone.conf to simplify repetitive tasks.
  • Automation streamlines large transfers – Batch sync tasks with rclone copy inside scripts triggered by cron to enable hands-off file management.

Keep these best practices in mind to get the most from Rclone!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I install Rclone with apt on the Pi?
    No, use the official install script to install the precompiled binary. This avoids build issues on the Pi.
  2. Does Rclone work with Pi OS Lite?
    Yes! Rclone has no GUI so it works perfectly in headless console-only OSes.
  3. Do I need to configure ssh keys for remote cloud providers?
    Generally no, Rclone handles authentication via username and password or access token depending on the remote provider.
  4. How do I setup Rclone to run on boot?
    You can create a Systemd service file like /etc/systemd/system/[email protected] to mount your remotes on boot.
  5. Can I access a remote through the mounted drive?
    Yes, any changes made via the Pi’s mount point are directly reflected in your cloud storage provider.
  6. Is there a limiting factor on number or size of files?
    No inherent limits within Rclone. Limits depend on the remote provider and your Pi’s local storage.
  7. How can I optimize rclone for large file transfers?
    Use –transfers to increase parallel transfers, and –bwlimit to prevent hitting provider api limits.
  8. Is encryption supported with rclone?
    Yes, enable encryption during rclone config or apply retrospectively with rclone cryptcheck.
  9. Can rclone access files inside zip archives?
    Rclone does not unpack zip files itself but you can access contents through a compatible mount like rclone mount –vfs-cache-mode writes.
  10. How do I configure rclone on headless raspbian?
    Run rclone config to set up remotes. Then echo remote:path > .rclone.conf to save defaults non-interactively.
  11. What are the bandwidth limits on Raspberry Pi?
    100 mbps Ethernet port is the limit. For better performance use USB 3.0 gigabit adapters.
  12. Are there usable Raspberry Pi OS builds with rclone included?
    No official Pi OS release includes rclone but you can install it on any distro with the binary.
  13. Can I create symlinks between the mounted remote and locations on my Pi?
    Yes, use ln -s /mnt/remote/path /home/pi/link to create persistent symlinks between locations.
  14. How do I avoid “too many open files” errors with rclone?
    Limit active transfers with –transfers. Also increase ulimits if using many mounts or transfers.
  15. Does Rclone integrate with Plex or Kodi?
    Yes! Mount your cloud media library with Rclone then point your media server to the local mount path.
  16. How do I copy files from the Pi to cloud storage?
    Use rclone copy /local/path remote-name:destination. Or sync folders both ways with rclone sync.
  17. Can I access GUI cloud storage apps with Rclone mounts?
    Sometimes. Rclone bypasses normal authentication so apps may not recognize access. Use console/CLI access instead.
  18. Is there a Raspberry Pi OS image with Rclone preinstalled?
    There are a few custom Pi images with Rclone included. But it’s best to start from official OS and install Rclone yourself.


Installing the command line program Rclone on a Raspberry Pi unlocks convenient file management with cloud storage providers. Mounting services like Google Drive as local storage enables powerful new workflows.

With capabilities like automatic daily backups to the cloud, streaming remote media files, and synchronizing projects across devices, Rclone on the Pi provides versatility limited only by your imagination.

By following this guide you’ve mastered the basics – now explore Rclone’s advanced features and integrations to assemble a customized solution taking your Pi further!


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