Adventures with rsync

As so often happens, I went and made more problems for myself.

See, we run a mixed environment here, a handful of PCs and two macs. Mostly the PCs are used for gaming, except for one laptop my wife uses for her VPN access to work, so the macs get used for media serving and my classwork.

I’ve only had one hard drive blow out on me in the last two decades, but it was enough to make me glad that I’d been backing up regularly and hence backup has remained a priority. This hasn’t been too hard to set up; both Vista and OSX come with capable backup tools, and we have a 1TB Time Capsule that makes the Mac side of things a set and forget affair.

There’s been just one little problem – the 1.1TB of, well, stuff, mostly video files, on an external drive hooked up to one of the macs, that hasn’t been regularly backed up because a) I didn’t have a second drive big enough to hold in and b) Time Machine, while a fine backup tool in many regards, isn’t designed for “put the stuff from THIS volume onto THIS backup device, the stuff from THAT volume onto THAT backup device”.

So, it hasn’t been backed up and that’s been annoying.

The other weekend, however, I noticed that Costco was selling 2TB external drives for $119, which is pretty crazy, so I bought one and now I had a backup device but no method of automatic backup.

Enter rsync. This humble little command line tool is the darling of lifehacker, and while I’d never used it I was fairly sure it would work.

This is where I realize that I’ve painted myself into a corner, writing-wise, because I don’t have much to say. I rsynced one drive to another, I added some files to the first drive, ran rsync again and it copied over the new files without doing a full copy again, so it pretty much worked without drama.

My only problem is that I can’t seem to make the –delete switch work; if I understand it properly it should remove files from the second drive as they’re removed from the first but I don’t seem to be able to make it happen. I’ll figure it out eventually.

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