I am trying the following command using rsync to copy only files that

  • are new
  • have a different size
rsync -niav --size-only   /home/me/source/Electronica  /media/externalDrive/dest/Electronica

However, this dry-run results in the following output:

>f+++++++++ Electronica/music/AlbumArt_{F0CB439F-A1FC-47DB-A698-C561191F3FDE}_Large.jpg
>f+++++++++ Electronica/music/AlbumArt_{F0CB439F-A1FC-47DB-A698-C561191F3FDE}_Small.jpg
>f+++++++++ Electronica/music/Folder.jpg

which I interpret to mean that those files are copied. But they have the same size! (The times and flags are different, though). Also the rsync refers to an external hard-drive (with a different format).

I also tried the following commands:

rsync -niav --size-only --ignore-times  /home/me/source  /media/else
rsync -niav --size-only --ignore-existing /home/me/source  /media/else

But still, these files are shown in the same way, meaning they would have copied. What else can I try?

And what is wrong with the main page description?

--size-only     skip files that match in size
  • >f+++++++++ indicates that the file (f) is copied (>) because it does not exist (+++++++++) on the remote side. Are you sure you're comparing the right paths (your current parameters will copy the content of source into else/source)?
    – n.st
    Jun 5, 2016 at 16:45
  • I have updated the question to make it clear, the the last bit of the path I give to rysnc is the first bit of the path that is written out. I am not sure that is correct, but I am sure there is NOr directory /home/me/source/Electronica/Electronica. I interpret it that the files exist on both sides at the correct location...
    – Alex
    Jun 5, 2016 at 16:50
  • If you've only run dry-runs so far, rsync will not have created /home/me/source/Electronica/Electronica, but will already check your source against its contents (of which there aren't any, of course).
    – n.st
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


You've fallen into rsync's classical "trailing slash trap":
If the source path does not end with a slash, rsync will copy the source directory. If you intend to copy the contents of the source directory, it needs to end with a slash.

Let's look at an example, assuming you want to copy a file at /home/me/source/Electronica/music/Folder.jpg:

rsync -a /home/me/source/Electronica  /media/externalDrive/dest/Electronica

will copy the Electronica directory from the source to the destination, so it will create /media/externalDrive/dest/Electronica/Electronica/music/ and put Folder.jpg in there.

rsync -a /home/me/source/Electronica/  /media/externalDrive/dest/Electronica

will copy the contents of the Electronica directory, so it will replicate the music directory under /media/externalDrive/dest/Electronica/ (if it doesn't exists) and Folder.jpg will end up at /media/externalDrive/dest/Electronica/music/Folder.jpg.

To make matters more confusing, it does not matter if the destination path ends with a slash.

Just make a habit of ending all rsync paths with a slash, then you'll be safe from any nasty surprises.

  • 1
    Yes, I JUST realized. Happens to me all the time...
    – Alex
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:03

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