[CentOS] Initial backup prior to daily rsync backups

Thu Jul 16 14:52:46 UTC 2009
Jeff Gregor <cpbecket at berkshire.net>

I have a few CentOS 5.3 servers out at remote sites that connect over a 
satellite link (a painfully slow satellite link). There's a time period 
in the wee hours of the morning when the satellite provider doesn't 
stiff me for bandwidth, and when the link is generally idle, where I 
want to use rsync to back up files to my local server. I've got rsync 
working in in combination with cron and ssh, and that process works fine.

The problem is getting the initial copy of the files over to the local 
server so that rsync can just deal with files changed during the day 
(there tend to not be too many changes -- mostly office-type documents, 
few pictures, that sort of thing, so limited bandwidth is not a 
problem). If I run rsync now, however, it is trying to copy over all the 
files since none exist on the local servers, and by my calculations 
copying that 160gb worth of data should be done some time in 
mid-February, 2010.

I can make the 4-hour round trip out to the remote site with a USB hard 
drive and copy the files that way, but my concern is how to get the file 
structure, timestamps, permissions, etc copied exactly from the remote 
server > USB drive > local server so that rsync can run most efficiently 
(and not have to do a compare on every single file the first time it runs.)

So the question is, how do I copy the files from the remote server back 
to my local server in a way that will allow rsync, once the copy is 
complete, to start dealing just with the daily changes in the most 
efficient way possible?