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May 19, 2015 - A Look At The New Commandlinefu
I've put together a short writeup on what kind of newness you can expect from the next iteration of clfu. Check it out here.
March 2, 2015 - New Management
I'm Jon, I'll be maintaining and improving clfu. Thanks to David for building such a great resource!

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Optimal way of deleting huge numbers of files

Terminal - Optimal way of deleting huge numbers of files
find /path/to/dir -type f -delete
2009-12-09 01:30:52
User: SlimG
Functions: find
Optimal way of deleting huge numbers of files

Optimal way of deleting huge numbers of files

Using -delete is faster than:

find /path/to/dir -type f -print0 | xargs -0 rm find /path/to/dir -type f -exec rm {} + find /path/to/dir -type f -exec rm \-f {} \;


There are 26 alternatives - vote for the best!

Terminal - Alternatives
find /path/to/dir -type f -print0 | xargs -0 rm
2009-01-26 11:30:47
User: root
Functions: find xargs

Using xargs is better than:

find /path/to/dir -type f -exec rm \-f {} \;

as the -exec switch uses a separate process for each remove. xargs splits the streamed files into more managable subsets so less processes are required.

rsync -a --delete empty-dir/ target-dir/
2016-06-07 16:56:55
User: malathion
Functions: rsync
Tags: delete rsync

This command works by rsyncing the target directory (containing the files you want to delete) with an empty directory. The '--delete' switch instructs rsync to remove files that are not present in the source directory. Since there are no files there, all the files will be deleted.

I'm not clear on why it's faster than 'find -delete', but it is.

Benchmarks here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130929001850/http://linuxnote.net/jianingy/en/linux/a-fast-way-to-remove-huge-number-of-files.html

find /path/to/dir/ -type f -exec rm {} +

Know a better way?

If you can do better, submit your command here.

What others think

What is non-optimal about

cd /path/to/dir; rm -rf ./*

? If you don't want --force, leave off the -f.

Comment by bwoodacre 358 weeks and 4 days ago

It's slower

Comment by SlimG 358 weeks and 4 days ago
cd /path/to/dir; rm ./*

is the same as:

rm /path/to/dir/*

and has the same drawback: it will fail with "too many arguments" if there is a very large number of files.


The -delete option to find is non-standard.

Comment by cfajohnson 358 weeks and 3 days ago

The "very large number of files" problem is easily avoided with

cd /path/to/dir/.. ; rm -rf dir

certainly the shell-expansion thing could be avoided by calling rm like this, but why is find faster? Is it skipping checks that rm does?

Comment by bwoodacre 358 weeks and 3 days ago

Your point of view

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