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I'm looking through some large log files (1-10 GB) and have been running into trouble using the standard less search functions (/). Searching for strings takes several minutes to find a match.

I heard that using fgrep was quicker but I don't really know how I would use this from within less, I'm also open to other suggestions. I have no particular need for regex functionality; I'm just matching strings (regex would be nice but if I can forego it for significant speed improvements that would be fine).

I have very little information about where a particular entry would be, and I don't want to trim the file in any way because once I find a match I will need to see the information in its vicinity (so grep | less isn't really useful for me).

Any quick fixes here?

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You dont need a regex to use grep. To solve your problem I probably would use grep as follows:

-i is case insensitive -C is lines of context before and after (example shows 10 which should give you 21 lines for each match)

grep -i -C 10 "text" <file> | less
  • Thanks, that's certainly the best solution I've heard so far. – quant May 12 '14 at 4:55

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