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Did I read this correctly in the LFTP man page for the mirror command?

--only-newer turns off file size comparison and uploads/downloads only newer files even if size is different. By default older files are transferred and replace newer ones.

By default, if I issue the command mirror / /local/folder, which mirrors the remote site to my local folder, it will replace my local file with a remote file if it is older than my local file?

Is this actually what LFTP does? Is that not backwards to what's useful?

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You are correct in your understanding: by default, mirror will attempt to overwrite files -- even newer files -- with whatever you're downloading (or uploading, in the case of mirror -R).

Is that not backwards to what's useful?

It depends on your point of view. The idea of mirror-ing is to make an exact duplicate of the remote files/directories, regardless of what changes may have been made to the local files since the last time mirror was executed.

See also the xfer:clobber setting if you want a blunter way of ignoring all possible overwrite conflicts.

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