I have written this backup script that looks in a file and copies recent files into a folder.


# the number of days to do the backup for.

# the files to backup.

# the location to copy the file to

# preform the back up
for i in ${location[*]}
        find $i \! -name '*.class' -mtime -$days \! -type d -exec cp {} $copyLocation \;

It works but it is not that useful.

I would prefer the script to preserve the directory structure when it copies. Ie I would like it to do: cp -r from to but only copy the recent files.

3 Answers 3


A way would be to modify the file names that you get when running find. So in your loop, having a matched file name in $filename you shall:

  1. In $filename, replace the leading $i with nothing
  2. find out the $dir_name in the result of 1 by using dirname
  3. append a trailing $copyLocation to $dirname and use it as argument for mkdir -p to create missing directories
  4. copy $filename to "$copyLocation/$dirname"

I'm also going to suggest yet another file sync alternative: unison. It is easier to use than rsync.


rsync is made for this task. Check the examples page for usage.

  • +1: helpful answer. I probably will end up using that, looks pretty good. However I am curious how to finish my script. Any ideas? Feb 10, 2010 at 19:35
  • rsync -a --include "/" --include='.class' --exclude="*" /opt/location/ /users/me/Backup/firstBackupScriptTry Feb 10, 2010 at 20:53
  • which is to say that one line duplicates the whole of your script (instead of copying changes in the last two days, it copies all changes since last backup to the same location) Feb 10, 2010 at 20:55
  • Since it looks like you're backing up code, you should also consider the -C option for rsync which excludes things like CVS/svn repository meta files, backup files and compiled files. Feb 10, 2010 at 21:40
  • @doug the command line I posted only copies .class files and directories, nothing else whatsoever, as was specified in his original. But for a less picky backup, -C is definitely helpful. Feb 10, 2010 at 22:08

A little off-topic perhaps, but you may want to take a look at BoxBackup. I used rsync scripts for a long time before moving to BoxBackup, and it really makes things easier - especially the "housekeeping"...

  • Hmm, thanks for the pointer. looks useful but not exactly what I am looking for. Any idea how to fix/finish my script? Feb 10, 2010 at 19:38

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