Find and Delete File If It Is More Than One Hour Old in UNIX Shell

Posted on in Categories , , , last updated April 20, 2008

Q. How do I find out file last modification time using a shell script or command? How do I delete or take any other custom action for all files more than one hour old in /home/ftp/incoming/raw/ directory?

A. There are many ways (commands) to find out file modification time under UNIX / Linux operating system. You can try any one of the following command:

find command (with -cmin switch)

$ find /home/ftp/incoming/raw/ -maxdepth 1 -cmin +60 -name FileName
The -cmin option will print FileName’s status was last changed n minutes ago. This command will print all file names more than one hour old.

stat command (with -c switch)

To find time of last change as seconds since Epoch, enter:
$ stat -c %Z /path/to/file

date command (with -r switch)

To display the last modification time of FILE, enter:
$ date -r /path/to/file
I recommend using find command as it has -exec option to take action on all matching file such as move or delete files:
$ find /home/ftp/incoming/raw/ -maxdepth 1 -cmin +60 -name "*" -exec /bin/rm -f {} \;

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

3 comment

  1. find … -exec is BAD!

    For every single result, it will fork off a copy of the command you exec. So if the above find command returns 500 files, rm will be forked 500 times.

    Instead of doing it the above way, try this:
    find /home/ftp/incoming/raw/ -maxdepth 1 -cmin +60 | xargs rm -rf

    The -name ‘*’ argument to find was redundant.

  2. Isn’t it better to use null character as a files separator (because of spaces in file/dir names)? like this:

    find /home/ftp/incoming/raw/ -print0 -maxdepth 1 -cmin +60 | xargs -0 rm -rf

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