Rsync as you know is known for its ability to sync files incrementally - backing up only the changes. However, this is not the behavior I have noticed while testing my Rsync setup.

It appears that Rsync is continuing to backup and replace each and every file each time I run the utility. I know this because the files in my destination folder are continually updating their modification time stamp each time I run rsync. I have also used the --progress option to catch Rsync taking its sweet time to copy the same files that have already been "synced" to the source folder.

Is there a special way to run Rsync so it does what is supposed to do?

  • 3
    You may wish to include the details of the command you are using, to get a more useful response.
    – Debra
    Jan 18 '14 at 4:32
  • 1
    rsync should never, ever, be updating the modification timestamp of the SOURCE files. But if it finds updated timestamps on the source, it will surely update them to the target.
    – Dan Pritts
    Jan 18 '14 at 5:48
  • Yeah thats the thing. The time stamps are being updated on the destination files even though they haven't changed on the source. Its making complete backups each time I run it.
    – Scandalist
    Jan 18 '14 at 5:51

It's highly probable that you are running rsync to copy between two file trees on the same server. In this situation rsync disables its delta algorithm and uses file size and modification time to determine whether or not to copy the file. If you don't specify --times (-t) or --archive (-a) then the timestamps on the source files are not preserved, and so the file will be copied every time you run rsync.

Probable command:

rsync /path/to/source/* /path/to/destination/

Better command:

rsync -a /path/to/source/ /path/to/destination/
  • 1
    Your wording and intentions are good. But while this might have been a decent comment in 2014, but I highly doubt that 3 years later this problem still exists or this answer would even help the original poster since they could not even provide an example of the Rsync command they are using. Sep 16 '17 at 0:01
  • @JakeGould these sites are intended not just for the person asking the question but also for future reference. Why -1 for a decent answer?
    – roaima
    Sep 16 '17 at 7:44
  • Because this answer is based on conjecture and the question itself is vague. You state “these sites are intended not just for the person asking the question but also for future reference.” But what benefit does a vague answer to a vague question provide? None. Sep 17 '17 at 0:23

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