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I have used rsync to back up my / directory to an external hard drive, using this command in user (not su) mode (about 200,000 files copied in one hour and forty minutes) and it seemed to finish nicely:

rsync -aAXv --progress /* /media/"New Volume"/bu120813 --exclude={/dev/*,/proc/*,/sys/*,/tmp/*,/run/*,/mnt/*,/media/*,/lost+found}  

Two worries: in attempting to get a copy of the command to use here I inadvertently started it off again, and stopped it with Ctrl+C. The stream of new messages overwrote the final message from the first copy, but I had seen there was a warning that a number of files hadn't been copied.

Should I worry about either or both of these, and if so what should I do. Or, can I now go ahead with my Fedora installation?

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  • It is always advisable to run full system backups as root, to ensure that everything that you want copied gets copied. – user Aug 12 '13 at 19:22
  • Many thanks to all who answered, very useful. I have followed the suggestions up and I am satisfied now that I have a viable backup copy. – Harry Weston Aug 12 '13 at 22:09
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Question #1

Two worries: in attempting to get a copy of the command to use here I inadvertently started it off again, and stopped it with CTRL/C. The stream of new messages overwrote the final message from the first copy, but I had seen there was a warning that a number of files hadn't been copied.

Assuming that none of the files changed on under the source directory then no there shouldn't be any issue with running it in a partial way. Those messages were most likely pertaining to the current run and were only a warning that you had aborted its attempt to sync the files.

Typically when you run rsync a second time against a source & destination there isn't any actual file data that is copied, only the meta data pertaining to the files on the 2 sides, which rsync is comparing to identify any actual copying that is required.

Question #2

Please, should I worry about either or both of these, and if so what should I do. Or, can I now go ahead with my Fedora installation?

As @msw has mentioned in the comments, if you're concerned with the consistency of your copy made with rsync simply re-running the rsync will guarantee you that it's still in a consistent state.

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    But if the OP likes greater assurance, running rsync a second time will confirm that most files don't need to be copied because they are already copied, and will re-report the error indications. The metadata exchange will take much less time than the 1.75 hours the copying did. – msw Aug 12 '13 at 19:07
  • @msw - sorry for the misunderstanding 8-). I thought the comment was directed to me, you were just expanding on the answer thank you! – slm Aug 12 '13 at 19:14
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Considering you were running rsync as a regular user it is likely that files were omitted byrsync due to insufficient permissions. Missing files most likely include protected system files like /etc/shadow, ssh host keys, logs and spool contents from /var etc.

You can rerun the rsync command adding the --update and --dry-run options to get a list of the missing files and files changed after the previous rsync.

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