I have a problem rsyncing my folders. In my home there is folder named "workspace". Recently I changed its content a lot, creating new directories, deleting old ones. New folders were successfully rsynced to external disk but deleted folders are still on external disk, not deleted. Same if I rsync to my other backup network location. While trying to investigate the reason I tried this two commands:

    rsync -nav --delete --exclude='.gvfs' --exclude='.cache' --exclude='.thumbnails' /home/OURDOMAIN/myname/workspace /run/media/myname/VERBATIM/backup/myname > dryrun.txt

and after this dry run the dryrun.txt file contains all the files and folders from workspace folder to be deleted marked with "deleting", that's ok. But i want to run my rsync command for whole home directory, but it's not working. With command:

    rsync -nav --delete --exclude='.gvfs' --exclude='.cache' --exclude='.thumbnails' /home/OURDOMAIN/myname /run/media/myname/VERBATIM/backup > dryrun2.txt

Now dryrun2.txt lines marked with "deleting" are only for some recently deleted files in .local and .config. Nothing for workspace directory.

Why is it not working as I expect? New folders are copied, but deleted folders are not deleted. I am not using file masks as you can see. I think problem is not in my exclude dirs. As shown by dry run it is also not a problem of permissions. Thanks for help.

rsync version 3.0.9 protocol version 30

Additional note: If i create some nonempty directories and do rsync, they are copied successfully. When I delete those folder and do rsync, they disappear in backup only if folder is directly in /home/OURDOMAIN/myname (such as /home/OURDOMAIN/myname/deleteme). But nested directories like /home/OURDOMAIN/myname/tmp/deleteme stay with all their content and are not deleted.

  • Add a trailing slash to the source folder, otherwise this should work. Also check for IO errors in your logs, this is one of the reasons deletions are aborted. Also try adding --delete-exclude.
    – drcelus
    Feb 27, 2013 at 8:53
  • Thanks. A trailing slash on the source changes the behavior to avoid creating an additional directory level at the destination. If I add trailing slash to source than I need to add "myname" to target to sync to right directory. It makes no change to my problem, nonexisting content of "workspace" directory is not deleted. Also tried with --delete-excluded but also makes no change - workspace content is not in excluded list so this was expected.
    – Martin
    Feb 27, 2013 at 9:40

2 Answers 2


rsync returns:

23 Partial transfer due to error

Explanation is : permission denied in different folders disabled deleting, I thought that denied directories were skipped, a quote from the man page :

If the sending side detects any I/O errors, then the deletion of any files at the destination will be automatically disabled.


If it is a backup and it should always be an up to date copy of your home folder, you can try using --ignore-times.

  • Thanks. Yes, it should be backup with completely same content (except exclude list of course). Unfortunately --ignore-times is not helping as I tried now. Makes sense because if I run only for "workspace" subfolder, than command works as I need.
    – Martin
    Feb 27, 2013 at 9:42

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