Is there a command or option that will allow me to move files without overwriting anything?

For the sake of argument, let us call the file foo.rar.

Now the -n sort of works, it won't overwrite the file. But if a file is there it also won't move the file. I want the file moved except for a system error like otu of disk space.

-b sort of works too. The problem with -b is that if there is a backup file, then -b will clobber the backup file with the new backup file.

So now to add a little meat to the question let us look at our example of foo.rar .Let us do a search for foo.rar in /home. We find 10 different files with that name. What I would like to do is execute the following three commands.

mkdir /tmp/foo_files
find /home -iname "foo.rar" -exec wanted_mv_command {} /tmp/foo_files \;
mv /tmp/foo_files ~/

I want ~/foo_files to contain something like: foo.rar, foo.rar.1, foo.rar.2 ... foo.rar.9 .

I don't care what pattern is used. Instead of foo.rar.# it could for example use foo.#.rar > I jsut want two things. That it indicates what the original name of the file was, and that it shows distinct versions of the file.


Since you're using GNU mv, you can use its --backup option. Just turn on numbered backups.

 mv --backup=numbered file1 file2 your_dir

You can change de suffix via the -S option.

Here is an example:

$ mv --backup=numbered aa/foo bb/foo cc/foo .
$ ls
aa  bb  cc  foo  foo.~1~  foo.~2~
| improve this answer | |

I just made a small script, let's call it mv_safe.sh. Usage: mv_safe SOURCE_FILE TARGET_DIRECTORY

if test ! -e "$2/$1"
  mv -- "$1" "$2"
  while test -e "$2/$1.$tries"
  mv -T -- "$1" "$2/$1.$tries"

Warning: this is not atomic. If you run multiple copies of this script in parallel and they happen to target the same file, they may overwrite each other's files.

Example : you have feefoo/foo.bar and foo.bar in your /tmp:

$ ./mv_safe.sh foo.bar feefoo

So here we want to move "safely" foo.bar to feefoo, where the name "foo.bar" is already used. Let's see whaat it gives :

$ ls feefoo
foo.bar   foo.bar.1

Does a usual mv if $1's name is not yet used in $2

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Fails terribly if any component of the source or destination contains a space in the filename, such as mv "/tmp/my file.txt" ~ (You can fix that by quoting your variables.) – roaima Dec 19 '15 at 20:49

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