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Copying an open file dangerous?

Posted on 2000-02-25
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Last Modified: 2010-04-14
I have an AppleScript that executes nightly and does a Finder copy my Microsoft Outlook data files to another computer to back up my email.

Outlook checks for mail every 10 minutes (as I have it set up). So, it is possible that the contents of the data file may change while the Finder copy is going on.

Does that mean that the copies file may end up in an inconsistent state? Or does the file system make sure that when the Finder is copying a file, updates will be ignored by the process doing the copy, i.e. the file looks as it did at the beginning of the copy operation?
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Question by:garyrob
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Alex Curylo earned 200 total points
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Yup, sure does, and here's how to prove it to yourself:

1. Start downloading a big file with your browser or ftp client.
2. Wait a couple seconds.
3. Copy the partially-downloaded file in the Finder.
4. Wait for the download to finish.
5. Note that the copy is slightly bigger than the original when you started, but not the full file.

Moral: If a file is altered while the Finder is copying, the copy's integrity is questionable at the very best.

Perhaps if you send the AppleScript "connect to" command before you copy, the timer resets so you have 10 minutes to copy once it returns? Or you could always just quit and restart it from your script, too.
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