thumb How to, in the terminal, using the find utility, find and optionally delete all zero bytes/size/length files and empty directories in the specified directory including subdirectories.

Zero size files

To find all zero size files, simply use:

find ./ -type f -size 0

or:

find ./ -type f -empty

This commands will find all zero size files in the current directory with subdirectories and then print the full pathname for each file to the screen.

  • The ./ means start searching from the current directory. If you want to find files from another directory then replace the ./ with the path to needed directory. For example, to search everything under the system log directory you need to replace ./ with /var/log.
  • The -type f flag is specifies to find only files.
  • The -size 0 and -empty flags is specifies to find zero length files.

To find and then delete all zero size files, there are variants you can use:

find ./ -type f -size 0 -exec rm -f {} \;
find ./ -type f -size 0 | xargs rm -f
find ./ -type f -size 0 -delete

The xargs will cause all the filenames to be sent as arguments to the rm -f commands. This will save processes that are forked everytime -exec rm -f is run. But is fails with spaces etc in file names.

The -delete is the best when it is supported by the find you are using (because it avoids the overhead of executing the rm command by doing the unlink() call inside find().

Empty directories

To find all empty directories, simply use:

find ./ -type d -empty

This command will find all empty directories in the current directory with subdirectories and then print the full pathname for each empty directory to the screen.

  • The ./ means start searching from the current directory. If you want to find files from another directory then replace the ./ with the path to needed directory. For example, to search everything under the system log directory you need to replace ./ with /var/log.
  • The -type d flag is specifies to find only directories.
  • The -empty flag is specifies to find empty directories.

To find and then delete all empty directories, use:

find ./ -depth -type d -empty -exec rmdir {} \;

or:

find ./ -type d -empty -delete

The -delete is the best when it is supported by the find you are using.


Arthur Gareginyan

Arthur Gareginyan

Arthur is a designer and full stack software engineer. He is the founder of MyCyberUniverse.com. His personal website can be found at arthurgareginyan.com. Check out his free WordPress plugins at wordpress.org.

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