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Azure storage transfer tool with AzCopy-like features

Project Description


AzCopy-like OS independent Azure storage blob and file share transfer tool


blobxfer is on PyPI and can be installed via:

pip install blobxfer

blobxfer is compatible with Python 2.7 and 3.3+. To install for Python 3, some distributions may use pip3 instead. If you do not want to install blobxfer as a system-wide binary and modify system-wide python packages, use the --user flag with pip or pip3.

blobxfer is also on Docker Hub, and the Docker image for Linux can be pulled with the following command:

docker pull alfpark/blobxfer

Please see example usage below on how to use the docker image.

If you encounter difficulties installing the script, it may be due to the cryptography dependency. Please ensure that your system is able to install binary wheels provided by these dependencies (e.g., on Windows) or is able to compile the dependencies (i.e., ensure you have a C compiler, python, ssl, and ffi development libraries/headers installed prior to invoking pip). For instance, to install blobxfer on a fresh Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 installation for Python 2.7, issue the following commands:

apt-get update
apt-get install -y build-essential libssl-dev libffi-dev libpython-dev python-dev python-pip
pip install --upgrade blobxfer

If you need more fine-grained control on installing dependencies, continue reading this section. Depending upon the desired mode of authentication with Azure and options, the script will require the following packages, some of which will automatically pull required dependent packages. Below is a list of dependent packages:

You can install these packages using pip, easy_install or through standard procedures. These dependencies will be automatically installed if using a package-based install or The required versions of these dependent packages can be found in


The script allows interacting with storage accounts using any of the following methods: (1) management certificate, (2) shared account key, (3) SAS key. The script can, in addition to working with single files, mirror entire directories into and out of containers or file shares from Azure Storage, respectively. File and block/page level MD5 integrity checking is supported along with various transfer optimizations, built-in retries, user-specified timeouts, and client-side encryption.

Program parameters and command-line options can be listed via the -h switch. Please invoke this first if you are unfamiliar with blobxfer operation as not all options are explained below. At the minimum, three positional arguments are required: storage account name, container or share name, and local resource. Additionally, one of the following authentication switches must be supplied: --subscriptionid with --managementcert, --storageaccountkey, or --saskey. Do not combine different authentication schemes together.

Environment variables BLOBXFER_STORAGEACCOUNTKEY, BLOBXFER_SASKEY, and BLOBXFER_RSAKEYPASSPHRASE can take the place of --storageaccountkey, --saskey, and --rsakeypassphrase respectively if you do not want to expose credentials on a command line.

It is generally recommended to use SAS keys wherever appropriate; only HTTPS transport is used in the script. Please note that when using SAS keys that only container- or fileshare-level SAS keys will allow for entire directory uploading or container/fileshare downloading. The container/fileshare must also have been created beforehand if using a service SAS, as containers/fileshares cannot be created using service SAS keys. Account-level SAS keys with a signed resource type of c or container will allow containers/fileshares to be created with SAS keys.

Example Usage

The following examples show how to invoke the script with commonly used options. Note that the authentication parameters are missing from the below examples. You will need to select a preferred method of authenticating with Azure and add the authentication switches (or as environment variables) as noted above.

The script will attempt to perform a smart transfer, by detecting if the local resource exists. For example:

blobxfer mystorageacct container0 mylocalfile.txt

Note: if you downloaded the script directly from github, then you should append .py to the blobxfer command.

If mylocalfile.txt exists locally, then the script will attempt to upload the file to container0 on mystorageacct. If the file does not exist, then it will attempt to download the resource. If the desired behavior is to download the file from Azure even if the local file exists, one can override the detection mechanism with --download. --upload is available to force the transfer to Azure storage. Note that specifying a particular direction does not force the actual operation to occur as that depends on other options specified such as skipping on MD5 matches. Note that you may use the --remoteresource flag to rename the local file as the blob name on Azure storage if uploading, however, --remoteresource has no effect if uploading a directory of files. Please refer to the --collate option as explained below.

If the local resource is a directory that exists, the script will attempt to mirror (recursively copy) the entire directory to Azure storage while maintaining subdirectories as virtual directories in Azure storage. You can disable the recursive copy (i.e., upload only the files in the directory) using the --no-recursive flag.

To upload a directory with files only matching a Unix-style shell wildcard pattern, an example commandline would be:

blobxfer mystorageacct container0 mylocaldir --upload --include '**/*.txt'

This would attempt to recursively upload the contents of mylocaldir to container0 for any file matching the wildcard pattern *.txt within all subdirectories. Include patterns can be applied for uploads as well as downloads. Note that you will need to prevent globbing by your shell such that wildcard expansion does not take place before script interprets the argument. If --include is not specified, all files will be uploaded or downloaded for the specific context.

To download an entire container from your storage account, an example commandline would be:

blobxfer mystorageacct container0 mylocaldir --remoteresource .

Assuming mylocaldir directory does not exist, the script will attempt to download all of the contents in container0 because “.” is set with --remoteresource flag. To download individual blobs, one would specify the blob name instead of “.” with the --remoteresource flag. If mylocaldir directory exists, the script will attempt to upload the directory instead of downloading it. If you want to force the download direction even if the directory exists, indicate that with the --download flag. When downloading an entire container, the script will attempt to pre-allocate file space and recreate the sub-directory structure as needed.

To collate files into specified virtual directories or local paths, use the --collate flag with the appropriate parameter. For example, the following commandline:

blobxfer mystorageacct container0 myvhds --upload --collate vhds --autovhd

If the directory myvhds had two vhd files a.vhd and subdir/b.vhd, these files would be uploaded into container0 under the virtual directory named vhds, and b.vhd would not contain the virtual directory subdir; thus, flattening the directory structure. The --autovhd flag would automatically enable page blob uploads for these files. If you wish to collate all files into the container directly, you would replace --collate vhds with --collate .

To strip leading components of a path on upload, use --strip-components with a number argument which will act similarly to tar’s --strip-components=NUMBER parameter. This parameter is only applied during an upload.

To encrypt or decrypt files, the option --rsapublickey and --rsaprivatekey is available. This option requires a file location for a PEM encoded RSA public or private key. An optional parameter, --rsakeypassphrase is available for passphrase protected RSA private keys.

To encrypt and upload, only the RSA public key is required although an RSA private key may be specified. To download and decrypt blobs which are encrypted, the RSA private key is required.

blobxfer mystorageacct container0 myblobs --upload --rsapublickey mypublickey.pem

The above example commandline would encrypt and upload files contained in myblobs using an RSA public key named mypublickey.pem. An RSA private key may be specified instead for uploading (public parts will be used).

blobxfer mystorageacct container0 myblobs --remoteresource . --download --rsaprivatekey myprivatekey.pem

The above example commandline would download and decrypt all blobs in the container container0 using an RSA private key named myprivatekey.pem. An RSA private key must be specified for downloading and decryption of encrypted blobs.

Currently only the FullBlob encryption mode is supported for the parameter --encmode. The FullBlob encryption mode either uploads or downloads Azure Storage .NET/Java compatible client-side encrypted block blobs.

Please read important points in the Encryption Notes below for more information.

To transfer to an Azure Files share, specify the --fileshare option and specify the share name as the second positional argument.

blobxfer mystorageacct myshare localfiles --fileshare --upload

The above example would upload all files in the localfiles directory to the share named myshare. Encryption/decryption options are compatible with Azure Files as the destination or source. Please refer to this MSDN article for features not supported by the Azure File Service.

Docker Usage

An example execution for uploading the host path /example/host/path to a storage container named container0 would be:

docker run --rm -t -v /example/host/path:/path/in/container alfpark/blobxfer mystorageacct container0 /path/in/container --upload

Note that docker volume mount mappings must be crafted with care to ensure consistency with directory depth between the host and the container. Optionally, you can utilize the --strip-components flag to remove leading path components as desired.

General Notes

  • If the pyOpenSSL package is present, urllib3/requests may use this package (as discussed in the Performance Notes below), which may result in exceptions being thrown that are not normalized by urllib3. This may result in exceptions that should be retried, but are not. It is recommended to upgrade your Python where pyOpenSSL is not required for fully validating peers and such that blobxfer can operate without pyOpenSSL in a secure fashion. You can also run blobxfer via Docker or in a virtualenv environment without pyOpenSSL.
  • blobxfer does not take any leases on blobs or containers. It is up to the user to ensure that blobs are not modified while download/uploads are being performed.
  • No validation is performed regarding container and file naming and length restrictions.
  • blobxfer will attempt to download from blob storage as-is. If the source filename is incompatible with the destination operating system, then failure may result.
  • When using SAS, the SAS key must be a container- or share-level SAS if performing recursive directory upload or container/file share download.
  • If uploading via service-level SAS keys, the container or file share must already be created in Azure storage prior to upload. Account-level SAS keys with the signed resource type of c or container-level permission will allow conatiner or file share creation.
  • For non-SAS requests, timeouts may not be properly honored due to limitations of the Azure Python SDK.
  • By default, files with matching MD5 checksums will be skipped for both download (if MD5 information is present on the blob) and upload. Specify --no-skiponmatch to disable this functionality.
  • When uploading files as page blobs, the content is page boundary byte-aligned. The MD5 for the blob is computed using the final aligned data if the source is not page boundary byte-aligned. This enables these page blobs or files to be skipped during subsequent download or upload by default (i.e., --no-skiponmatch parameter is not specified).
  • If --delete is specified, any remote files found that have no corresponding local file in directory upload mode will be deleted. Deletion occurs prior to any transfers, analogous to the delete-before rsync option. Please note that this parameter will interact with --include and any file not included from the include pattern will be deleted.
  • --include has no effect when specifying a single file to upload or blob to download. When specifying --include on container download, the pattern will be applied to the blob name without the container name. Globbing of wildcards must be disabled such that the script can read the include pattern without the shell expanding the wildcards, if specified.
  • Empty directories are not created locally when downloading from an Azure file share which has empty directories.
  • Empty directories are not deleted if --delete is specified and no files remain in the directory on the Azure file share.

Performance Notes

  • Most likely, you will need to tweak the --numworkers argument that best suits your environment. The default is the number of CPUs on the running machine multiplied by 3 (except when transferring to/from file shares). Increasing this number (or even using the default) may not provide the optimal balance between concurrency and your network conditions. Additionally, this number may not work properly if you are attempting to run multiple blobxfer sessions in parallel from one machine or IP address. Futhermore, this number may be defaulted to be set too high if encryption is enabled and the machine cannot handle processing multiple threads in parallel.
  • Computing file MD5 can be time consuming for large files. If integrity checking or rsync-like capability is not required, specify --no-computefilemd5 to disable MD5 computation for files.
  • File share performance can be “slow” or become a bottleneck, especially for file shares containing thousands of files as multiple REST calls must be performed for each file. Currently, a single file share has a limit of up to 60 MB/s and 1000 8KB IOPS. Please refer to the Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets for performance targets and limits regarding Azure Storage Blobs and Files. If scalable high performance is required, consider using blob storage or multiple file shares.
  • Using SAS keys may provide the best performance as the script bypasses the Azure Storage Python SDK and uses requests/urllib3 directly with Azure Storage endpoints. Transfers to/from Azure Files will always use the Azure Storage Python SDK even with SAS keys.
  • As of requests 2.6.0 and Python versions < 2.7.9 (i.e., interpreter found on default Ubuntu 14.04 installations), if certain packages are installed, as those found in requests[security] then the underlying urllib3 package will utilize the ndg-httpsclient package which will use pyOpenSSL. This will ensure the peers are fully validated. However, this incurs a rather larger performance penalty. If you understand the potential security risks for disabling this behavior due to high performance requirements, you can either remove ndg-httpsclient or use the script in a virtualenv environment without the ndg-httpsclient package. Python versions >= 2.7.9 are not affected by this issue. These warnings can be suppressed using --disable-urllib-warnings, but is not recommended unless you understand the security implications.

Encryption Notes

  • All required information regarding the encryption process is stored on each blob’s encryptiondata and encryptiondata_authentication metadata. These metadata entries are used on download to configure the proper download and parameters for the decryption process as well as to authenticate the encryption. Encryption metadata set by blobxfer (or the Azure Storage .NET/Java client library) should not be modified or blobs/files may be unrecoverable.
  • Local files can be encrypted by blobxfer and stored in Azure Files and, correspondingly, remote files on Azure File shares can be decrypted by blobxfer as long as the metdata portions remain in-tact.
  • Keys for AES256 block cipher are generated on a per-blob/file basis. These keys are encrypted using RSAES-OAEP.
  • MD5 for both the pre-encrypted and encrypted version of the file is stored in blob/file metadata. Rsync-like synchronization is still supported transparently with encrypted blobs/files.
  • Whole file MD5 checks are skipped if a message authentication code is found to validate the integrity of the encrypted data.
  • Attempting to upload the same file as an encrypted blob with a different RSA key or under a different encryption mode will not occur if the file content MD5 is the same. This behavior can be overridden by including the option --no-skiponmatch.
  • If one wishes to apply encryption to a blob/file already uploaded to Azure Storage that has not changed, the upload will not occur since the underlying file content MD5 has not changed; this behavior can be overriden by including the option --no-skiponmatch.
  • Encryption is only applied to block blobs (or fileshare files). Encrypted page blobs appear to be of minimal value stored in Azure Storage via blobxfer. Thus, if uploading VHDs while enabling encryption in the script, do not enable the option --pageblob. --autovhd will continue to work transparently where vhd files will be uploaded as page blobs in unencrypted form while other files will be uploaded as encrypted block blobs. Note that using --autovhd with encryption will force set the max chunk size to 4 MiB for non-encrypted vhd files.
  • Downloading encrypted blobs/files may not fully preallocate each file due to padding. Script failure can result during transfer if there is insufficient disk space.
  • Zero-byte (empty) files are not encrypted.

Change Log

See the file.

This project has adopted the Microsoft Open Source Code of Conduct. For more information see the Code of Conduct FAQ or contact with any additional questions or comments.

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