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Can copying a file damage the original?

Consider the following scenario:

* A database is accessing a large file $a on an Ext3FS, writing to it, reading
  from it.

* While testing a backup script, the file $a is copied with rsync without
  prior shutdown of the database software.

Here's what just happened under this scenario:

  $a got damaged.

I'm certain that this is just a conincidence.  However, my employer recalls 
hearing other people stating that copying around files while copying them may 
damage the original.  I doubt that these other people have a clue, but 
perhaps it's me who doesn't have a clue: Are there any circumstances under 
which a source file in a copy operation can be damaged?

Dipl.-Phys. Felix E. Klee
Email: fk linuxburg de (work), felix klee inka de (home)
Tel: +49 721 8307937, Fax: +49 721 8307936
Linuxburg, Goethestr. 15a, 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany

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