Rsync of several directories doesn't delete files

Daniel Ramaley daniel.ramaley at DRAKE.EDU
Fri Sep 20 00:43:50 EST 2002

Hello. I'm trying to use rsync to keep a backup of a web server (named
"www") on a separate machine (named "backup"). "Www" is running Trustix
Linux 1.5 (kernel 2-2-20-2tr) with rsync 2.5.4 protocol 26. "Backup" is
running OpenBSD 3.0. Rsync is using OpenSSH 3.1p1 as the transport. Files
that are deleted from "www" are not deleted from "backup" on subsequent
runs of rsync.

My rsync line looks like this:

rsync -avR --rsh=ssh --delete --exclude-from=/tmp/excludes.daily \
    / backup:/home/backup/www/

/tmp/excludes.daily includes 2 lines:


First i added an extra "-v" to the rsync command. At the suggestion of some
newsgroup postings that i found using google, i searched the output for IO
errors, but found nothing. At the top of the output i expected the output
to include what files were being deleted, but it did not, which indicates
that rsync wasn't even trying to delete anything.

Next i added "--force" and "--ignore-errors" to rsync's command line. I
didn't expect them to do anything, but i tried anyway. The excess files
still weren't deleted.

In a 2-year old post to mailing.unix.rsync i found someone with the same
problem i'm having. The solution was to not do an rsync of the entire
drive, but rather just do one directory at a time. As a test i tried
removing the "--force" and "--ignore-errors" and changing / to /home in my
rsync line:

rsync -avvR --rsh=ssh --delete --exclude-from=/tmp/excludes.daily \
    /home backup:/home/backup/www/

That worked. Files in /home that had been removed on "www" were removed on
"backup." The output from rsync included a line for each file that was

So, deletion does not work if i try to rsync my entire filesystem, but does
work if i only try to rsync one directory. I guess at this poing i'm
looking for some pointers. Is there some switch to rsync that i'm missing
that allows it to delete files when operating on the entire filesystem?
What else am i overlooking or doing incorrectly?

Thanks in advance for any assistance you may provide.

Dan Ramaley
Digital Media Library Specialist
(515) 271-1934
Cowles Library 140, Drake University

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