Rsync like Time Machine

Clint Olsen clint.olsen at
Fri Jul 27 16:06:31 MDT 2012

This is a cool idea. I'll give it a try and see if I can make it work for
me. One thing missing is the switches for "replace mode" you mentioned.
I'll comb through the manpage of course...



On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 1:16 PM, Greg Deback (rsync) <
greg.deb+rsync at> wrote:

> If you really want to have a destination tree that looks like :
>  current -> 2012-07-22
>  2012-07-22/
>  2012-07-21/
> with the current symlink pointing to the latest backup, you can manage to
> do it in two passes :
> 1. Create an empty directory '2012-07-22/' and the 'current' symlink
> pointing to it (relative path), and rsync it to the final destination in
> "replace" mode (ie. update, no deletion) with symlink on (-l). This will
> replace the existing 'current' symlink in the destination folder.
> 2. Rsync (-Ha or -Haz) your src folder to 'current/' or to '2012-07-22/'
> (leave the trailing slash)
> Greg
> On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 10:06 PM, Clint Olsen <clint.olsen at>wrote:
>> Ok, that is helpful. As you can guess based on my question, it would be
>> nice if all the automation can be done on the client side rather than
>> having some specialized scripting on the receiving side to manage
>> directories and symlinks etc.
>> Thanks,
>> -Clint
>> On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 12:55 PM, Greg Deback (rsync) <
>> greg.deb+rsync at> wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> As for the destination directory and the backup directory
>>> (--backup-dir), rsync will create the missing subdirectory (one level below
>>> the existing dir only), so yes for /<somedir-exists>/<newdir-with-date>, no
>>> for /<somedir-exists>/<newdir-with-year>/<newdir-with-month> on january
>>> 1st... But if you want this dir to be a symlink, you can't.
>>> Greg
>>> On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 7:16 PM, Clint Olsen <clint.olsen at>wrote:
>>>> I've been very interested in these discussions and uses of rsync as a
>>>> "clone" of Time Machine. A couple of things have been keeping me from a
>>>> fully automated solution. I'd like to eliminate the need for Samba/NFS
>>>> mounts of any kind, because they have proven to be unreliable for me and
>>>> under some operating environments (Cygwin) it breaks --link-dest. In most
>>>> of the articles I've read, a target "date" directory is created with some
>>>> sort of "latest" symlink for the --link-dest parameter. I can accomplish
>>>> those tasks via remote ssh commands, but I was hoping there was a better
>>>> way. For example, is there any circumstance where you can coax rsync into
>>>> creating a target directory that's not there already?
>>>> % rsync <source> user at nas::module/<somedir-exists>/<newdir-with-date>
>>>> So, newdir-with-date doesn't exist (yet). I would like to have rsync
>>>> create it for me. Is that even possible?
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> -Clint
>>>> --
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