How to Empty or Delete Contents of Large File in Linux

Sometimes you may need to clear a large file or empty contents of a file in Linux without actually opening it. There are multiple ways to empty or delete contents of large file in Linux. In fact, it is a good way to regularly clear log files. But please be careful before executing these commands. There is no way to undo the results once you clear the contents of a file.


How to Empty or Delete Contents of Large File in Linux

Here are the steps to empty or delete contents of large file in Linux. For our example, we will empty the file located at /home/ubuntu/data.txt.


1. Clear File Content by Redirecting to Null

Here is the command to blank or empty a file by redirecting it to null.

# > /home/ubuntu/data.txt

After deletion, you can check its size using the following command.

# sudo du -sh /home/ubuntu/data.txt

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2. Empty File Using True or : command

Similarly, you can empty a file by redirecting true or equivalent (:) command to the file.

# true > /home/ubuntu/data.txt
OR
# : > /home/ubuntu/data.txt

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3. Empty file using /dev/null

/dev/null is a file that has no content in it. It is typically used to redirect output of commands and scripts that you don’t want to display or save. It always remains empty.

So you can also redirect it to your large file to empty, as shown below.

# sudo cat /dev/null > /home/ubuntu/data.txt

You can also copy the contents of /dev/null to your file to delete its contents.

# sudo cp /dev/null > /home/ubuntu/data.txt

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4. Delete File Content using Echo command

You can also clear file content by simply using echo with an empty string.

# sudo echo '' > /home/ubuntu/data.txt
OR
# sudo echo > /home/ubuntu/data.txt

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5. Empty File Using Truncate Command

You can also blank the file using truncate command.

# sudo truncate -s 0 /home/ubuntu/data.txt

In this article, we have only shown some of the ways to clear the content of a file in Linux. There are many more ways to do it.

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