File sync

This page discusses how to set up file sync for files that don’t require full rebuild.

Skaffold supports copying changed files to a deployed container so as to avoid the need to rebuild, redeploy, and restart the corresponding pod. The file copying is enabled by adding a sync section with sync rules to the artifact in the skaffold.yaml. Under the hood, Skaffold creates a tar file with changed files that match the sync rules. This tar file is sent to and extracted on the corresponding containers.

Manual sync mode

A manual sync rule must specify the src and dest field. The src field is a glob pattern to match files relative to the artifact context directory, which may contain ** to match nested files. The dest field is the absolute or relative destination path in the container. If the destination is a relative path, an absolute path will be inferred by prepending the path with the container’s WORKDIR. By default, matched files are transplanted with their whole directory hierarchy below the artifact context directory onto the destination. The optional strip field can cut off some levels from the directory hierarchy. The following example showcases manual filesync:

    - image:
      context: node
          # sync a single file into the `/etc` folder
          - src: '.filebaserc'
            dest: /etc

          # sync files directly below `static-html` into `static/`
          - src: 'static-html/*.html'
            dest: static

          # sync any `png` file into the assets folder
          - src: '**/*.png'
            dest: assets

          # sync all `md` files from `content/en` into `content`
          - src: 'content/en/**/*.md'
            dest: content
            strip: 'content/en/'
  • The first rule synchronizes the file .filebaserc to the /etc folder in the container.
  • The second rule synchronizes all html files in the static-html folder into the <WORKDIR>/static folder in the container. Note that this pattern does not match files in sub-folders below static-html (e.g. static-html/a.html but not static-html/sub/a.html).
  • The third rule synchronizes all png files from any sub-folder into the assets folder on the container. For example, img.pngassets/img.png or sub/img.pngassets/sub/img.png.
  • The last rule synchronizes all md files below the content/en directory into the content folder on the container. The strip directive ensures that only the directory hierarchy below content/en is re-created at the destination. For example, content/en/index.mdcontent/ or content/en/sub/index.mdcontent/sub/

Currently, there is only manual filesync mode, but a mode with destination inference is already in the making.


File sync has some limitations:

  • File sync can only update files that can be modified by the container’s configured User ID.
  • File sync requires the tar command to be available in the container.
  • Only local source files can be synchronized: files created by the builder will not be copied.