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Does rsync verify files copied between two local drives?

Solutons:


rsync always uses checksums to verify that a file was transferred correctly. If the destination file already exists, rsync may skip updating the file if the modification time and size match the source file, but if rsync decides that data need to be transferred, checksums are always used on the data transferred between the sending and receiving rsync processes. This verifies that the data received are the same as the data sent with high probability, without the heavy overhead of a byte-level comparison over the network.

Once the file data are received, rsync writes the data to the file and trusts that if the kernel indicates a successful write, the data were written without corruption to disk. rsync does not reread the data and compare against the known checksum as an additional check.

As for the verification itself, for protocol 30 and beyond (first supported in 3.0.0), rsync uses MD5. For older protocols, the checksum used is MD4.

While long considered obsolete for secure cryptographic hashes, MD5 and MD4 remain adequate for checking file corruption.

Source: the man page and eyeballing the rsync source code to verify.

rsync does not do the post-copy verification for local file copies. You can verify that it does not by using rsync to copy a large file to a slow (i.e. USB) drive, and then copying the same file with cp, i.e.:

time rsync bigfile /mnt/usb/bigfile

time cp bigfile /mnt/usb/bigfile

Both commands take about the same amount of time, therefore rsync cannot possibly be doing the checksum—since that would involve re-reading the destination file off the slow disk.

The man page is unfortunately misleading about this. I also verified this with strace—after the copy is complete, rsync issues no read() calls on the destination file, so it cannot be checksumming it. One more you can verify it is with something like iotop: you see rsync doing read and write simultaneously (copying from source to destination), then it exits. If it were verifying integrity, there would be a read-only phase.

rsync makes a checksum comparison before copying (in some cases), to avoid copying what’s already there. The point of the checksum comparison is not to verify that the copy was successful. That’s the job of the underlying infrastructure: the filesystem drivers, the disk drivers, the network drivers, etc. Individual applications such as rsync don’t need to bother with this madness. All rsync needs to do (and does!) is to check the return values of system calls to make sure there was no error.

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