Hi how do I copy a folder from source to destination in Ubuntu without replacing the existing contents in the destination folder?

I tried cp -r -u and cp -r -n, and neither one worked.


I believe that if you're copying a directory using -r, the -n will only take effect against the directory being copied, not individual files, leaving you with -i which is interactive though, which means you have to stick around to watch it go. Not useful if you're scripting I suppose.

What can work instead if you're copying a source which has multiple directories within, is rsync with the --ignore-existing flag. rsync can also work for local transfer, in fact, I prefer it for copying entire directory/subdir's..


It is cp -i for interactive queries before overwriting. You can find more with man cp.

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