copy - Copies files to remote locations.


  • The copy module copies a file from the local or remote machine to a location on the remote machine. Use the fetch module to copy files from remote locations to the local box. If you need variable interpolation in copied files, use the template module.


parameter required default choices comments
(added in 2.3)
no None
Attributes the file or directory should have. To get supported flags look at the man page for chattr on the target system. This string should contain the attributes in the same order as the one displayed by lsattr.

aliases: attr
no no
  • yes
  • no
Create a backup file including the timestamp information so you can get the original file back if you somehow clobbered it incorrectly.
When used instead of 'src', sets the contents of a file directly to the specified value. This is for simple values, for anything complex or with formatting please switch to the template module.
Remote absolute path where the file should be copied to. If src is a directory, this must be a directory too.
(added in 1.5)
When doing a recursive copy set the mode for the directories. If this is not set we will use the system defaults. The mode is only set on directories which are newly created, and will not affect those that already existed.
(added in 1.8)
no no
  • yes
  • no
This flag indicates that filesystem links, if they exist, should be followed.
no yes
  • yes
  • no
the default is yes, which will replace the remote file when contents are different than the source. If no, the file will only be transferred if the destination does not exist.

aliases: thirsty
Name of the group that should own the file/directory, as would be fed to chown.
Mode the file or directory should be. For those used to /usr/bin/chmod remember that modes are actually octal numbers (like 0644). Leaving off the leading zero will likely have unexpected results. As of version 1.8, the mode may be specified as a symbolic mode (for example, u+rwx or u=rw,g=r,o=r).
Name of the user that should own the file/directory, as would be fed to chown.
(added in 2.0)
no False
  • True
  • False
If False, it will search for src at originating/master machine, if True it will go to the remote/target machine for the src. Default is False.
Currently remote_src does not support recursive copying.
no s0
Level part of the SELinux file context. This is the MLS/MCS attribute, sometimes known as the range. _default feature works as for seuser.
Role part of SELinux file context, _default feature works as for seuser.
Type part of SELinux file context, _default feature works as for seuser.
User part of SELinux file context. Will default to system policy, if applicable. If set to _default, it will use the user portion of the policy if available.
Local path to a file to copy to the remote server; can be absolute or relative. If path is a directory, it is copied recursively. In this case, if path ends with "/", only inside contents of that directory are copied to destination. Otherwise, if it does not end with "/", the directory itself with all contents is copied. This behavior is similar to Rsync.
(added in 2.2)
  • yes
  • no
Normally this module uses atomic operations to prevent data corruption or inconsistent reads from the target files, sometimes systems are configured or just broken in ways that prevent this. One example are docker mounted files, they cannot be updated atomically and can only be done in an unsafe manner.
This boolean option allows ansible to fall back to unsafe methods of updating files for those cases in which you do not have any other choice. Be aware that this is subject to race conditions and can lead to data corruption.
no None
The validation command to run before copying into place. The path to the file to validate is passed in via '%s' which must be present as in the example below. The command is passed securely so shell features like expansion and pipes won't work.


# Example from Ansible Playbooks
- copy:
    src: /srv/myfiles/foo.conf
    dest: /etc/foo.conf
    owner: foo
    group: foo
    mode: 0644

# The same example as above, but using a symbolic mode equivalent to 0644
- copy:
    src: /srv/myfiles/foo.conf
    dest: /etc/foo.conf
    owner: foo
    group: foo
    mode: "u=rw,g=r,o=r"

# Another symbolic mode example, adding some permissions and removing others
- copy:
    src: /srv/myfiles/foo.conf
    dest: /etc/foo.conf
    owner: foo
    group: foo
    mode: "u+rw,g-wx,o-rwx"

# Copy a new "ntp.conf file into place, backing up the original if it differs from the copied version
- copy:
    src: /mine/ntp.conf
    dest: /etc/ntp.conf
    owner: root
    group: root
    mode: 0644
    backup: yes

# Copy a new "sudoers" file into place, after passing validation with visudo
- copy:
    src: /mine/sudoers
    dest: /etc/sudoers
    validate: 'visudo -cf %s'

# Copy a "sudoers" file on the remote machine for editing
- copy:
    remote_src: true
    src: /etc/sudoers
    dest: /etc/sudoers.edit

Return Values

Common return values are documented here Return Values, the following are the fields unique to this module:

name description returned type sample
src source file used for the copy on the target machine changed string /home/httpd/.ansible/tmp/ansible-tmp-1423796390.97-147729857856000/source
backup_file name of backup file created changed and if backup=yes string /path/to/[email protected]:09~
uid owner id of the file, after execution success int 100
dest destination file/path success string /path/to/file.txt
checksum sha1 checksum of the file after running copy success string 6e642bb8dd5c2e027bf21dd923337cbb4214f827
md5sum md5 checksum of the file after running copy when supported string 2a5aeecc61dc98c4d780b14b330e3282
state state of the target, after execution success string file
gid group id of the file, after execution success int 100
mode permissions of the target, after execution success string 0644
owner owner of the file, after execution success string httpd
group group of the file, after execution success string httpd
size size of the target, after execution success int 1220



  • The “copy” module recursively copy facility does not scale to lots (>hundreds) of files. For alternative, see synchronize module, which is a wrapper around rsync.


This module is flagged as stableinterface which means that the maintainers for this module guarantee that no backward incompatible interface changes will be made.


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