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About bash : Shell-script-to-delete-directories-older-than-n-days

Question Detail

I have directories named as:


How would I delete the directories that are older than 10 days with a bash shell script?

Question Answer

This will do it recursively for you:

find /path/to/base/dir/* -type d -ctime +10 -exec rm -rf {} \;


  • find: the unix command for finding files / directories / links etc.
  • /path/to/base/dir: the directory to start your search in.
  • -type d: only find directories
  • -ctime +10: only consider the ones with modification time older than 10 days
  • -exec ... \;: for each such result found, do the following command in ...
  • rm -rf {}: recursively force remove the directory; the {} part is where the find result gets substituted into from the previous part.

Alternatively, use:

find /path/to/base/dir/* -type d -ctime +10 | xargs rm -rf

Which is a bit more efficient, because it amounts to:

rm -rf dir1 dir2 dir3 ...

as opposed to:

rm -rf dir1; rm -rf dir2; rm -rf dir3; ...

as in the -exec method.

With modern versions of find, you can replace the ; with + and it will do the equivalent of the xargs call for you, passing as many files as will fit on each exec system call:

find . -type d -ctime +10 -exec rm -rf {} +

If you want to delete all subdirectories under /path/to/base, for example


but you don’t want to delete the root /path/to/base, you have to add -mindepth 1 and -maxdepth 1 options, which will access only the subdirectories under /path/to/base

-mindepth 1 excludes the root /path/to/base from the matches.

-maxdepth 1 will ONLY match subdirectories immediately under /path/to/base such as /path/to/base/dir1, /path/to/base/dir2 and /path/to/base/dir3 but it will not list subdirectories of these in a recursive manner. So these example subdirectories will not be listed:


and so forth.

So , to delete all the sub-directories under /path/to/base which are older than 10 days;

find /path/to/base -mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1 -type d -ctime +10 | xargs rm -rf

find supports -delete operation, so:

find /base/dir/* -ctime +10 -delete;

I think there’s a catch that the files need to be 10+ days older too. Haven’t tried, someone may confirm in comments.

The most voted solution here is missing -maxdepth 0 so it will call rm -rf for every subdirectory, after deleting it. That doesn’t make sense, so I suggest:

find /base/dir/* -maxdepth 0  -type d -ctime +10 -exec rm -rf {} \;

The -delete solution above doesn’t use -maxdepth 0 because find would complain the dir is not empty. Instead, it implies -depth and deletes from the bottom up.

I was struggling to get this right using the scripts provided above and some other scripts especially when files and folder names had newline or spaces.

Finally stumbled on tmpreaper and it has been worked pretty well for us so far.

tmpreaper -t 5d ~/Downloads

tmpreaper  --protect '*.c' -t 5h ~/my_prg

Original Source link

Has features like test, which checks the directories recursively and lists them.
Ability to delete symlinks, files or directories and also the protection mode for a certain pattern while deleting


rm -rf `find /path/to/base/dir/* -type d -mtime +10`

Updated, faster version of it:

find /path/to/base/dir/* -mtime +10 -print0 | xargs -0 rm -f

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