Sparse file troubles and rsync

Karderio karderio at
Wed Feb 10 13:50:26 MST 2010


I recently had troubles when I used rsync to do a full copy of one
large disk to another. The disks were of the same size, but due to
sparse files, and me not passing the "--sparse" switch on my initial
try, the files were too big for the destination drive.

The whole thing caused me much woe, as the problem was not obvious to
me (at first I found some sparse files on the source which were also
sparse on the destination leading me to think that the problem was

Having taken more than a day to copy the 1.5T of data, the obvious
solution of clearing the destination disk and starting anew seemed
unsatisfactory. I ended up writing a script to remove the sparse files
from the destination before doing another rsync.

Here is a post describing in detail my problem, and the solution I
used :

 I just wanted to let you know about this, as I thought that maybe an
entry in you fac or man page could be useful, warning that in case of
sparse files a copy can be (much) larger than the original.


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