I am looking for a solution to move files that are year older from today. My log partition is getting full, but I can not remove them. They are needed for a long long time. Anyway one solution I came up with is:

find /sourcedirectory -mtime 365 -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;

Would this work? Asking because of the "-mtime 365" would this move the files that are year older from today to a new location?

Thank you!

6 Answers 6


You're almost right. -mtime 365 will be all files that are exactly 365 days old. You want the ones that are 365 days old or more, which means adding a + before the number like this -mtime +365.

You may also be interested in the -maxdepth 1 flag, which prevents you from moving items in sub directories.

If you want to be sure that you are only moving files, not directories, add -type f to the line.

At the end of the line we add \; so that find knows that's the end of the command we are executing.

So the line should be:

find /sourcedirectory -maxdepth 1 -mtime +365 -type f -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;

To be on the safe side, start by just doing a ls -l instead of mv - that way you can check in advance that you're getting exactly the files you want, before re-running it with mv, like this:

find /sourcedirectory -maxdepth 1 -mtime +365 -type f -exec ls -l {} \;
  • 3
    Bear in mind that mtime is Modification time (which sounds like what you probably want -- most of the time it is). If these logs are read/referred to often you might want to use -atime (last access time).
    – voretaq7
    May 8, 2013 at 19:00
  • 2
    What does the backslash at the end of this line do? Mar 19, 2016 at 20:07
  • 1
    @BenLiyanage The backslash is an escape character for the semicolon that follows. The semicolon means the end of the exec statement. See the man page for find.
    – Jenny D
    Mar 20, 2016 at 11:27

Be careful when using the above solutions, I used them and ended up moving all files in all subfolders!!!!

This command moves all files in /source directory and all subfolders under source directory:

find /sourcedirectory -mtime +365 -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;

Instead, use option -maxdepth 1 for only files in /sourcedirectory

find /sourcedirectory -maxdepth 1 -mtime +365 -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;
  • The highest rated answer contains this note, and suggests using -type f. Did you mean this instead to mean that the subfolders do get moved but the contents of them remain in the subfolders instead of getting moved out of them or...?
    – austinian
    Jul 15, 2015 at 2:41
  • 1
    no, I mean that 'find' will find all files in /sourcedirectory and all subfolders within that /sourcedirectory, which I didn't think about at the time. The '-maxdepth 1' restricts the 'find' to only /sourcedirectory Jul 16, 2015 at 15:36
  • BTW, I would have had this as just a comment to the highest rated answer, which was a good answer, but I don't have the reputation. :) Jul 16, 2015 at 15:38

You can use this command, and specify that you only find for files, not directory, and the file is older than one year

find /sourcedirectory -type f -mtime +365 -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;
  • Why should he use rm? Your command deletes both the log files and possibly the destination directory.
    – Sven
    May 8, 2013 at 10:08
  • Ops, my mistake, I think @mYzk want to remove this files. Edited
    – cuonglm
    May 8, 2013 at 10:11

You can use the below command with atime if the files are accessed often

find /sourcedirectory -type f -atime +365 -exec mv -t /destinationdirectory {} +;
$ find /sourcedirectory/ -maxdepth 1 -mtime +365 -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;

find: missing argument to `-exec'

Correct would be remove ending forward slash from /sourcedirectory/

$ find /sourcedirectory -maxdepth 1 -mtime +365 -exec mv "{}" /destination/directory/ \;
  • In my tests, I was not able to replicate the find: missing argument error, however I do agree that dropping the trailing slash from /sourcedirectory is correct.
    – guzzijason
    Sep 29, 2018 at 22:47

You can also pipe to the while command like this:

find /sourcedirectory/ -mtime +365 -print | while read line ; do mv $line /destination/directory/ ; done

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