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Four hours ago I started rsync to create a copy of my entire /home directory (I am using Ubuntu) to an external HDD. My /home lives on a separate partition of 150 GB of which 106 GB are used. I also have a / partition (with my Ubuntu install etc.) with 12 GB of data.

However rsync is still running but it already has created 205 GB of data on the HDD (as reported by du -hs home/).

I don't have any idea what rsync is currently copying, as far as I know it can at most copy 106 GB of data.

I started the rsync process with the following command:

rsync -a /home /media/BackupsDisk/MyBackup

Does anyone have an idea what might cause this behaviour?

EDIT: It just finished. It created a total of 211 GB of data, which is more than the / and /home partitions together. Maybe somewhere there is a symlink to /dev/random...

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Use the -v argument to rsync to see what is being copied. – Mark Aug 18 '11 at 12:23
You could of course supply -n for a dry run to test it out. – slhck Aug 18 '11 at 12:41
up vote 0 down vote accepted

It's possible you have links to other folders in your home folders, I'm not sure if rsync follows links in archive mode or not.

EDIT: It might be worth using the -l flag that keeps symlinks as symlinks unless you want to copy the contents of any symlinked folders.

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rsync just stopped. See my edit. It is of course possible that some symlink was followed, however to me this does not explain why the data is too huge. – muksie Aug 18 '11 at 12:30
The only other possibility I can think of is if the block size on your backup partition is very large and you copied lots of small files then the disk usage would be higher. I've never come across this on linux, but it frequently comes up under windows. – Col Aug 18 '11 at 12:41

You can add the -v option to rsync to see why it is taking so long.

find is your friend to find the big files in the new location.

For example to find files bigger than 10 mega bytes in my home I would do:

find ~ -size +10M
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