Is there a way to do a cp but ignoring any files that may already exist at the destination that aren't any older then those files at source.

Basically I want to copy the contents of one disk to another, then run the copy again but only updating new files or files that have been updated on the source side.


3 Answers 3


use this:

rsync -a /source /destination

Alternatively, you can get more details with a few other flags like -v or --progress.

  • 2
    I want to add that you can use rsync over the network also. It's particularly easy to do so using ssh. For either the source OR destination, prepend it with user@host: and it will do just that. This will act as a replacement for scp Apr 17, 2012 at 13:50

from the cp manpage:

   -u, --update
          copy only when the SOURCE file is newer than the destination file or when  the
          destination file is missing
  • Just found this too, was looking at the man page for the wrong version of cp. D'oh! Apr 17, 2012 at 13:34

Use rsync, problem solved.

rsync -av /srcdir /tgtdir

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