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From the manpage of rsync

--remove-source-files

This tells rsync to remove from the sending side the files (meaning non-directories) that are a part of the transfer and have been successfully duplicated on the receiving side.

  • Does it mean files on the sending side that are either part of the transfer or duplicated on the receiving side?

  • Can I also remove directories on the sending side?

Note that you should only use this option on source files that are quiescent.

  • What does "source files that are quiescent" mean?

If you are using this to move files that show up in a particular directory over to another host, make sure that the finished files get renamed into the source directory, not directly written into it, so that rsync can't possibly transfer a file that is not yet fully written.

  • What does this mean?

If you can't first write the files into a different directory, you should use a naming idiom that lets rsync avoid transferring files that are not yet finished (e.g. name the file "foo.new" when it is written, rename it to "foo" when it is done, and then use the option --exclude='*.new' for the rsync transfer).

  • What does this mean?

Starting with 3.1.0, rsync will skip the sender-side removal (and output an error) if the file's size or modify time has not stayed unchanged.

  • What does this mean?

Thanks.

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Q: Does it mean files on the sending side that are either part of the transfer or duplicated on the receiving side?

  • A: Both

Q: Can I also remove directories on the sending side?

  • A: Yes

--remove-source-files then issue the command rm -rf <source_directory>

Q: What does "source files that are quiescent" mean?

  • A: It means files that have been written to and closed

Q: If you are using this to move files that show up in a particular directory over to another host, make sure that the finished files get renamed into the source directory, not directly written into it, so that rsync can't possibly transfer a file that is not yet fully written. What does this mean?

  • A: It means exactly what I said above

Q: If you can't first write the files into a different directory, you should use a naming idiom that lets rsync avoid transferring files that are not yet finished (e.g. name the file "foo.new" when it is written, rename it to "foo" when it is done, and then use the option --exclude='*.new' for the rsync transfer). What does this mean?

  • A: It means that RSYNC makes a list of files to be transferred first. Then it writes them into a different directory (Destination Directory), thus if you transfer a file that hasn't finished, it is best to rename it after it is done using the --exclude option

Q: Starting with 3.1.0, rsync will skip the sender-side removal (and output an error) if the file's size or modify time has not stayed unchanged. What does this mean?

  • A: If RSYNC detects that when its about to write the file to the destination directory that the file size has changed between the time it scanned it, to the time it actually writes it to the destination directory, then RSYNC will skip the file.
  • Thanks. for the last question, the manpage says "rsync will skip the sender-side removal (and output an error)" and you wrote "RSYNC will skip the file". Will RSYNC skip transferring the file, or it will skip removing the sender-side file after transferring it? – Tim Jun 14 '17 at 18:29
  • @Tim It will skip removing the file from the sender side. This check is done AFTER the file has been transferred. – AfroJoe Jun 14 '17 at 18:53
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    rm -rf <source_directory> is NOT SAFE. That will delete everything, including files that weren't successfully synced. You need something like find <source_directory> -type -d -empty -delete instead. – Stop Harming Monica Oct 1 '18 at 10:21
  • When run with --remove-source-files, does rsync perform a checksum verification of the copied file before removing it from the source? – becko Nov 14 at 10:53

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