rsync is bad

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at
Sun Jun 8 20:21:48 UTC 2008

On Sun, Jun 8, 2008 at 11:46 AM, Karl Larsen <k5di at> wrote:
> Mike Bird wrote:
>    Can't do that now Mike. I formatted the partition again for a fresh
> start. I used a rsync method recommended and will comment on it's
> workings. I fixed the recommended rsync method and used it to backup
> this Ubuntu to /dev/hda7 again. The rsync ended with zero errors.
>    Here is the way I used rsync:
> karl at karl-desktop:~$ cat /root/bin/rsync1
> # This file is designed to backup my Ubuntu to the USB Hard Drive using
> rsync
> # Karl Larsen, 8 june 08
> # rsync -vaHz --exclude '/proc' --exclude '/sys' --exclude '/media' /.
> # /media/disk
> rsync -vaH --exclude '/proc' --exclude 'sys' --exclude 'home' --exclude
> '/mnt' /. /mnt
> The last line is what I used because I wanted the backup to go direct to
> /dev/hda7 and it did.
>    Next I went to /mnt/etc/fstab and changed the uuid to the one I made
> yesterday for /dev/hda7. Then I reboot and came up in the backup. It
> found the kernel and the splash panel came on and there it stopped.
>    I rest my case. Rsync does not work as a backup because the backup
> does not work. Period.
> Karl

Rsync is not the right tool to try to clone a whole operating system.
Whoever told you that it was is an, well, not knowledgable. Rsync is a
great tool to copy files from one system to another and do so with
lowest possible network traffic.  It is not very good at copying onto
foreign filesystems, such as mounted Novell, openafs, or Windows

If you want to copy an entire disk exactly, or an entire partition
exactly, you should use a tool like "g4u". Stands for "ghost 4 unix."
It is a bootable CD, which can access disk drives to copy them
exactly, bit for bit.  Generally, you can't get a perfect copy of a
running file system because files are constantly being accessed and

Rsync won't copy the boot sector and your grub configuration generally
will not be correct if you just copy files from one device to another.

If you want to copy the contents of a partition exactly, rsync have to
have PERMISSIONS to open any file that it intends to copy.  Whoever
told you that root access is not necessary is a, well, not
knowledgable.  How in the world did you expect it to copy files that
it does not have permission even to open?

Rsync's strength is in file copies ACROSS a network because it only
copies the changed parts of files across.  When you use rsync on a
computer to copy from one drive to another, it uses the local drive
mode and it does not try to copy just the changed parts.  It is no
better than running "cp -Ra x y" to copy recursively in archive mode.

Before I get carried away, I'm inclined to call Hitler on this thread.
We are just throwing good effort after bad.

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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