I have a "tracking" directory containing hardlinks to files/dirs in a second directory ( used for tracking moves/renames). If I delete something in the original folder, no disk space is freed as its hardlink still exists. So I want to clean up this "tracking" directory periodically. Therefore I need to find all files in it, that have a hardlink count of 1.

What is the fastest way to find (and remove) recursively all files with a hardlink count of 1?

I know I can do something like find . -type f -exec ls -l {} \+ | grep -P "^.{11}1" and then some more piping/regexing, but this is ugly and slow. I am looking for something cleaner and faster.

  • 2
    Check if your find supports -links option. Aug 16, 2016 at 22:21
  • 1
    @KamilMaciorowski Thanks a lot. I stupidely only greped the manpage for "hard" and thus did not find this option.
    – imsodin
    Aug 16, 2016 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


My find has -links option (I'm on Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS). To find files that have no other hardlinks use:

find -type f -links 1

The command to remove these files is:

find -type f -links 1 -exec rm -f {} +

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