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Delete a log files in Linux or UNIX

Q. How do I delete a log file in Linux without distributing running application? My log file size is quite huge.

A. You can simply truncate a log file using > filename syntax. For example if log file name is /var/log/message, use:
# >/var/log/message

If you really wanted to delete or remove a file type:
# rm /var/log/message

logrotate tool

A better approach is to use logrotate tool. It is designed to ease administration of systems that generate large numbers of log files. It allows automatic rotation, compression, removal, and mailing of log files. Each log file may be handled daily, weekly, monthly, or when it grows too large.

See previous logrotate faq article

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{ 12 comments… add one }

  • vb June 16, 2007, 3:39 am

    my log files /var/log deleted is it creates any problem

  • nixCraft June 16, 2007, 1:31 pm

    /var/log is directory, if you delete the same just recreate directory using mkdir command:
    [code]mkdir /var/log[/code]

  • dave July 19, 2007, 3:23 pm

    How would you specify to delete log that are over a certain age. ie 2days old or something like that. Thanks for the help.

    • Vit November 23, 2014, 10:49 am

      One way is to setup new cronjob for that. Then google: “tmpwatch delete files older”

  • nixCraft July 19, 2007, 8:49 pm

    There are 2 options, either use log logrotate or use find command to get list of 2 days old files and empty them. You can find information about logrotate and about find command here only. Use search box to get information

  • dave July 23, 2007, 4:42 pm

    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. I’ve been doing some more research and had another question if you wouldn’t mine throwing in some input.

    I want to remove apache logs after about a month. So I was going to set something up like this that I found online.

    This is an example of a /etc/logrotate.d/httpd

    /var/log/httpd/*.log {
    daily
    rotate 30
    missingok
    notifempty
    sharedscripts
    postrotate
    /bin/kill -HUP `cat /var/run/httpd.pid 2>/dev/null` 2> /dev/null || true endscript
    }

    Now from what I understand this will rotate the log daily meaning create a new log everyday. The 30 means that it will hold 30 of these logs before deleting them (or compressing if I put that option in there)

    Also, before I go and set this up, I want to test it on 1 websites log incase I mess things up. Would it be ok to replace the line

    /var/log/httpd/*.log
    with
    /var/log/httpd/”website”*.log to that affect to test in one website before doing all of them?

    Does it sound like I’m on the right track or am I completely lost :) thanks again for your input.

  • chandra December 17, 2008, 7:35 am

    simply wirte rm file.log and press enter

    • Ajeet Jha September 24, 2010, 10:21 am

      Use the following command:

      suppose your file name is message.log then use:

      echo “” > message.log

      This will empty the file without having deleting it.

      • indra February 19, 2013, 3:17 am

        Hallo, i have same use command as your suggest.
        echo ”> message.log

        but, if one folder contain much log like that, how i can clean up directly using echo command without delete it (rm)

        Thank you

  • Anand Shankar June 28, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Hi Ajeet,
    Can you tell me please how it works ?

  • Ratnakar July 10, 2012, 2:33 pm

    echo “” ->print the blank space
    and that blank space is redirected to message.log file
    or in other word your file conatins replaced by blank space without

  • rahul March 4, 2014, 7:04 am

    Please could anybody help me how to delete the log files of DHCP server. and how to identify them.

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