HOWTO: Locate empty files and directories

When installing software on your VPS you will end up with both empty files and empty directories, often these are used as placeholders/lock files/socket files for communication.

This short guide will give you some examples on how to find those empty files/directories.

The command we are going to use is the “find” command. To find empty directories/files in the current directory, you use the parameter “-empty“.

You also have to use the parameter “-type” to define if you are looking for directories (d) or files (f).


Here is the command to find empty directories in the current directory:

find ./ -type d -empty

And here is the command to find empty files in the current directory:

find ./ -type f -empty

If you need to know how many empty files you have in the current directory, pipe the find command to “wc -l“:

find ./ -type f -empty | wc -l

Similarly, to recursivly count how many how many files are located under the current directory and sub-directories,  you can use the following command:

find ./ -type f -not -empty | wc -l 

To remove all empty directories in the current directory, the command you can use is:

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

– In all the commands above, the  (./) means the current directory or folder, if you want to perform actions in other directories, just replace the  (./) with the path to the new directory.

– In system directories such as /etc/, there are many empty files and directories.

But it is strongly recommended to not remove them.

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Swedish Viking, also known as the NAT King (by others). Owner of and part of the administrator team of LowEndSpirit.
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