rsync --delete is dangerous!

I hosed my entire home directory on this server last night with an incorrect rsync command. I tried syncing my svn repository to the server like this:

rsync -az -e ssh --delete /var/svn/repos/ servername:/home/username/

The problem is that I had an extra slash on the end of "/var/svn/repos/". Without the extra slash, it would create a directory called repos inside servername:/home/username and sync it with /var/svn/repos. With the slash, it syncs the contents of "/var/svn/repos" with the contents of servername:/home/username, thus causing all files in servername:/home/username to be deleted because of the --deleted command.

What I could have done instead is create a directory on the remote server called repos and then rsync like this (actually you don't need to create repos first):

rsync -az -e ssh --delete /var/svn/repos/ servername:/home/username/repos

Or I could have done this:

rsync -az -e ssh --delete /var/svn/repos servername:/home/username

The last command will create a directory called repos in servername:/home/username and it will sync it but not delete anything in servername:/home/username. Add a trailing slah to /var/svn/repos and it will!

Luckily I had a nightly backup of my entire home directory on my local server's external backup drive. I was worried because although I make these nightly backups I haven't actually inspected them in a while. Fortunately everything was intact.



Hi David,

I was wondering what's the best command that I should use if I want to syncronize a filesystem called /zsync to another filesystem in other server called /zsync?A suggestion would much appreciated.Thanks in advance.


Use the "-n print what will be done, but do nothing" switch, and stop wheening around !

-n, --dry-run
This makes rsync perform a trial run that doesn't make any changes (and produces mostly the same output as a real run). It is most commonly used in combination with the -v, --verbose and/or -i, --itemize-changes options to see what an rsync command is going to do before one actually runs it.

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