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Question: Backing up iTunes data to external HDD resulted in a smaller file than the original. cp -pr worked fine. Wondering what command or utility is deployed for the drag and drop.

Backing up iTunes data to external HDD via drag and drop resulted in a smaller file than the original. Seemed to have worked OK—didn't see any error messages. Resorted to cp -pr with success. Left wondering what command or utility is deployed by drag and drop. cp? dd? other? The problem may have occurred previously, but it isn't constant.


Mid-2012 MBP, 10.12.6.

MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid 2012), macOS Sierra (10.12.6), null

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Nov 18, 2017 8:58 AM in response to Bruce Smith2 In response to Bruce Smith2

If you use rsync, do not overlook the -E (extended attributes) switch. Also, ditto is another copy and preserve command that is fine without any switches as most things are default. See the rsync and ditto man pages.


I imagine that the Finder copy is using appropriate Objective-C commands to achieve its goal, rather than forking out to cp, mv, rsync, or ditto.

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Question marked as Helpful

Nov 18, 2017 8:58 AM in response to Bruce Smith2 In response to Bruce Smith2

If you use rsync, do not overlook the -E (extended attributes) switch. Also, ditto is another copy and preserve command that is fine without any switches as most things are default. See the rsync and ditto man pages.


I imagine that the Finder copy is using appropriate Objective-C commands to achieve its goal, rather than forking out to cp, mv, rsync, or ditto.

Nov 18, 2017 8:58 AM

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Nov 18, 2017 9:08 AM in response to VikingOSX In response to VikingOSX

That makes sense (about the Objective-C). Although I've been using Macs for...many years...this was the first time I can recall that I did a copy this way, although I routinely used cp/rsync when I worked in a *nix environment. On the one hand, there's no contradicting the convenience of using the Finder; on the other, there's the warm fuzzies I get from using the command line, knowing a bit more about what's happening, and having more control over it. Can't say I've heard of ditto before—must be a Darwin thing? In any case, I'm interested in testing whether backing up only changes via ditto or rsync results in a usable iTunes data backup. (A stint in SQA made me wary of just about everything 😉 ) Thanks.

Nov 18, 2017 9:08 AM

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Question: Backing up iTunes data to external HDD resulted in a smaller file than the original. cp -pr worked fine. Wondering what command or utility is deployed for the drag and drop.