Backup from ext3 to vfat with rsync

by Martin Monperrus

Rsync is great for backuping data. However, it requires some advanced options to get a smooth backup from an ext3 filesystem to a vfat/fat16/fat32 one (e.g. a USB stick):

rsync -a --no-o --no-p --no-g --safe-links --modify-window 1 --stats /home/source/ /media/sda1/dest/

--no-o because vfat does not support owners
--no-g because vfat does not support groups
--no-p because vfat does not support permissions
--modify-window 1 because fat "represents times with a 2-second resolution" (rsync manual)
--safe-links because vfat does not support symbolic links

Also, note that vfat does not support filenames containing '%' or ':'.
To check where they are and whether they are not important: $ find . -name "*%*" -or -name "*:*

see also: backup from ext3 to vfat with qcow2 images
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