SUMMARY: Expiration of files

From: Rainer Blaes (prime_s!blaes@ernohb.uucp)
Date: Fri Mar 06 1992 - 19:57:20 CST

I wrote:
> Dear SUN Managers,
> in order to free disk space we are using the following 'find'
> command:
> find . -atime +365 -exec rm -f '{}' ';' -ls | awk '{sum+=$7; printf("%s %s\n",$7,$11)} END {printf("Anzahl: %d \Total File size: %d Bytes\n Durchschnitt %d\n",NR,sum,sum/NR)}' >> /usr/local/bin/expiration_data
> It works very well but since the -atime qualifier modified the access
> time of the directories, we can't remove empty directories which are
> fullfilling the expiration criteria +365.
> Any idea, clue to handle this situation?
> Of cource any hint is welcome and we will summarize.

Many thanks to all who had replied (see below):
From: Steve Harris - Eaton Corp. - Beverly, MA - uunet!etnibsd!vsh
How about (not tested):

        find . -type d -atime +365 -print > /tmp/olddirs
        find . ! -type d -atime +365 -print > /tmp/oldfiles
        cat /tmp/oldfiles /tmp/olddirs |
        while read name
                ls -lgdis $name
                rm -f $name
        done |
        awk '...' >> /usr/local/bin/expiration_data
From: Kevin McElearney
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Phone: (617) 981-3556
244 Wood Street
Lexington, MA 02173-9108 EMail:
What if you check EMPTY directories separately and looked at modification time?

From: (Steve Cariglia)

The following should work, there must be something more elegant?:
      find . -atime +365 -exec rm.csh '{}' ';' -ls | awk '{sum+=$7; printf("%s %s\n",$7,$11)} END {printf("Anzahl: %d \Total File size: %d Bytes\n Durchschnitt %d\n",NR,sum,sum/NR)}' >> /usr/local/bin/expiration_data
where rm.csh contains:
#!/bin/csh -f
if ( -d $argv) then
   set qtst=`rmdir $argv |& cat`
   set qtst=`rm -f $argv |& cat`
   rmdir $argv:h >& /dev/null
if ("$qtst" != "") then
Don't forget to chmod 755 rm.csh

From: Jay Plett <>

You will be updating the access time of all the directories every
day when you run the find, so you will never have directories that
satisfy -atime +365, even if by some trickery you could avoid accessing
them before emptying them on this particular run of find.

So, how to solve the problem? Get gnu find. I added some stuff to
it that you might be able to make use of. If you could live with
removing all empty directories, regardless of age, then it would
be trivial:

        gfind . -depth \( -type f -atime +365 -exec rm -f {} \; \) -o \
                \( -type d -empty -exec rmdir {} \; \)

It would also be simple if you could remove all directories that
are at a depth of, say, 3 or more below the top directory:

        gfind . -type d -mindepth 3 -empty -exec rmdir ...

The only idea that comes to mind for accomplishing what I think
you really want is to keep track of which directories you removed
files from, then remove those directories if they are now empty.

        gfind . -type f -atime +365 -exec rm -f {} \; \
                -mindepth 1 -fprintf /tmp/dirlist '%h\n'
        gfind `sort -u /tmp/dirlist` -maxdepth 0 -empty -exec rmdir {} \;
        rm /tmp/dirlist

The second gfind runs the risk of overflowing the maximum length
of an argument list. You could write a shell script which reads
"sort -u /tmp/dirlist" a line at a time and runs a gfind for each


From: Paul Begley <>

I had similar problems with using find for a backup script. I wanted
to find files which were x or less days old and collect the names and
use tar to back them up to tape.

The solution was using perl, a utility in the public domain from Larry
Wall. Perl has a find and a file flag capability which will do the
trick with a 2-3 line script. It will replace the one line AWK script
you are running as well. There is also a SUID facility for Perl which
will let you setup the script so it can be run by a user other than
root (which would not be an issue in your case, but was nice for some
things I wanted to do).

Hope this helps!

BTW - Perl is available via anon ftp from various sites and there is a
Programming Perl book available from O'Reilly Associates, publisher of
Nutshell Handbooks and other fine UNIX books and documentation.

does rm -rf work?
From: al! (J. Matt Landrum)

I would be scared to do that. Can you use mtime instead of
So we are using the nice 'Gnu find' gfind command and it works very
Again many thanks, especially to you Jay!!!
Rainer Blaes

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