Delete directories recursively in Java


Answers

With Java 7, we can finally do this with reliable symlink detection. (I don't consider Apache's commons-io to have reliable symlink detection at this time, as it doesn't handle links on Windows created with mklink.)

For the sake of history, here's a pre-Java 7 answer, which follows symlinks.

void delete(File f) throws IOException {
  if (f.isDirectory()) {
    for (File c : f.listFiles())
      delete(c);
  }
  if (!f.delete())
    throw new FileNotFoundException("Failed to delete file: " + f);
}
Question

Is there a way to delete entire directories recursively in Java?

In the normal case it is possible to delete an empty directory. However when it comes to deleting entire directories with contents, it is not that simple anymore.

How do you delete entire directories with contents in Java?




Here is a bare bones main method that accepts a command line argument, you may need to append your own error checking or mold it to how you see fit.

import java.io.File;
import java.io.FileNotFoundException;
import java.io.IOException;

public class DeleteFiles {

/**
 * @param intitial arguments take in a source to read from and a 
 * destination to read to
 */
    public static void main(String[] args)
                     throws FileNotFoundException,IOException {
        File src = new File(args[0]);
        if (!src.exists() ) {
            System.out.println("FAILURE!");
        }else{
            // Gathers files in directory
            File[] a = src.listFiles();
            for (int i = 0; i < a.length; i++) {
                //Sends files to recursive deletion method
                fileDelete(a[i]);
            }
            // Deletes original source folder
            src.delete();
            System.out.println("Success!");
        }
    }

    /**
     * @param srcFile Source file to examine
     * @throws FileNotFoundException if File not found
     * @throws IOException if File not found
     */
    private static void fileDelete(File srcFile)
                     throws FileNotFoundException, IOException {
        // Checks if file is a directory
        if (srcFile.isDirectory()) {
            //Gathers files in directory
            File[] b = srcFile.listFiles();
            for (int i = 0; i < b.length; i++) {
                //Recursively deletes all files and sub-directories
                fileDelete(b[i]);
            }
            // Deletes original sub-directory file
            srcFile.delete();
        } else {
            srcFile.delete();
        }
    }
}

I hope that helps!




You could use:

org.apache.commons.io.FileUtils.deleteQuietly(destFile);

Deletes a file, never throwing an exception. If file is a directory, delete it and all sub-directories. The difference between File.delete() and this method are: A directory to be deleted does not have to be empty. No exceptions are thrown when a file or directory cannot be deleted.




Java 7 added support for walking directories with symlink handling:

import java.nio.file.*;

public static void removeRecursive(Path path) throws IOException
{
    Files.walkFileTree(path, new SimpleFileVisitor<Path>()
    {
        @Override
        public FileVisitResult visitFile(Path file, BasicFileAttributes attrs)
                throws IOException
        {
            Files.delete(file);
            return FileVisitResult.CONTINUE;
        }

        @Override
        public FileVisitResult visitFileFailed(Path file, IOException exc) throws IOException
        {
            // try to delete the file anyway, even if its attributes
            // could not be read, since delete-only access is
            // theoretically possible
            Files.delete(file);
            return FileVisitResult.CONTINUE;
        }

        @Override
        public FileVisitResult postVisitDirectory(Path dir, IOException exc) throws IOException
        {
            if (exc == null)
            {
                Files.delete(dir);
                return FileVisitResult.CONTINUE;
            }
            else
            {
                // directory iteration failed; propagate exception
                throw exc;
            }
        }
    });
}

I use this as a fallback from platform-specific methods (in this untested code):

public static void removeDirectory(Path directory) throws IOException
{
    // does nothing if non-existent
    if (Files.exists(directory))
    {
        try
        {
            // prefer OS-dependent directory removal tool
            if (SystemUtils.IS_OS_WINDOWS)
                Processes.execute("%ComSpec%", "/C", "RD /S /Q \"" + directory + '"');
            else if (SystemUtils.IS_OS_UNIX)
                Processes.execute("/bin/rm", "-rf", directory.toString());
        }
        catch (ProcessExecutionException | InterruptedException e)
        {
            // fallback to internal implementation on error
        }

        if (Files.exists(directory))
            removeRecursive(directory);
    }
}

(SystemUtils is from Apache Commons Lang. Processes is private but its behavior should be obvious.)




Maybe a solution for this problem might be to reimplement the delete method of the File class using the code from erickson's answer:

public class MyFile extends File {

  ... <- copy constructor

  public boolean delete() {
    if (f.isDirectory()) {
      for (File c : f.listFiles()) {
        return new MyFile(c).delete();
      }
    } else {
        return f.delete();
    }
  }
}



static public void deleteDirectory(File path) 
{
    if (path == null)
        return;
    if (path.exists())
    {
        for(File f : path.listFiles())
        {
            if(f.isDirectory()) 
            {
                deleteDirectory(f);
                f.delete();
            }
            else
            {
                f.delete();
            }
        }
        path.delete();
    }
}



Just saw my solution is more or less the same as erickson's, just packaged as a static method. Drop this somewhere, it's much lighter weight than installing all of Apache Commons for something that (as you can see) is quite simple.

public class FileUtils {
    /**
     * By default File#delete fails for non-empty directories, it works like "rm". 
     * We need something a little more brutual - this does the equivalent of "rm -r"
     * @param path Root File Path
     * @return true iff the file and all sub files/directories have been removed
     * @throws FileNotFoundException
     */
    public static boolean deleteRecursive(File path) throws FileNotFoundException{
        if (!path.exists()) throw new FileNotFoundException(path.getAbsolutePath());
        boolean ret = true;
        if (path.isDirectory()){
            for (File f : path.listFiles()){
                ret = ret && FileUtils.deleteRecursive(f);
            }
        }
        return ret && path.delete();
    }
}



An optimal solution that handles exception consistently with the approach that an exception thrown from a method should always describe what that method was trying (and failed) to do:

private void deleteRecursive(File f) throws Exception {
    try {
        if (f.isDirectory()) {
            for (File c : f.listFiles()) {
                deleteRecursive(c);
            }
        }
        if (!f.delete()) {
            throw new Exception("Delete command returned false for file: " + f);
        }
    } 
    catch (Exception e) {
        throw new Exception("Failed to delete the folder: " + f, e);
    }
}



Guava had Files.deleteRecursively(File) supported until Guava 9.

From Guava 10:

Deprecated. This method suffers from poor symlink detection and race conditions. This functionality can be supported suitably only by shelling out to an operating system command such as rm -rf or del /s. This method is scheduled to be removed from Guava in Guava release 11.0.

Therefore, there is no such method in Guava 11.




If you have Spring, you can use FileSystemUtils.deleteRecursively:

import org.springframework.util.FileSystemUtils;

boolean success = FileSystemUtils.deleteRecursively(new File("directory"));



i coded this routine that has 3 safety criteria for safer use.

package ch.ethz.idsc.queuey.util;

import java.io.File;
import java.io.IOException;

/** recursive file/directory deletion
 * 
 * safety from erroneous use is enhanced by three criteria
 * 1) checking the depth of the directory tree T to be deleted
 * against a permitted upper bound "max_depth"
 * 2) checking the number of files to be deleted #F
 * against a permitted upper bound "max_count"
 * 3) if deletion of a file or directory fails, the process aborts */
public final class FileDelete {
    /** Example: The command
     * FileDelete.of(new File("/user/name/myapp/recordings/log20171024"), 2, 1000);
     * deletes given directory with sub directories of depth of at most 2,
     * and max number of total files less than 1000. No files are deleted
     * if directory tree exceeds 2, or total of files exceed 1000.
     * 
     * abort criteria are described at top of class
     * 
     * @param file
     * @param max_depth
     * @param max_count
     * @return
     * @throws Exception if criteria are not met */
    public static FileDelete of(File file, int max_depth, int max_count) throws IOException {
        return new FileDelete(file, max_depth, max_count);
    }

    // ---
    private final File root;
    private final int max_depth;
    private int removed = 0;

    /** @param root file or a directory. If root is a file, the file will be deleted.
     *            If root is a directory, the directory tree will be deleted.
     * @param max_depth of directory visitor
     * @param max_count of files to delete
     * @throws IOException */
    private FileDelete(final File root, final int max_depth, final int max_count) throws IOException {
        this.root = root;
        this.max_depth = max_depth;
        // ---
        final int count = visitRecursively(root, 0, false);
        if (count <= max_count) // abort criteria 2)
            visitRecursively(root, 0, true);
        else
            throw new IOException("more files to be deleted than allowed (" + max_count + "<=" + count + ") in " + root);
    }

    private int visitRecursively(final File file, final int depth, final boolean delete) throws IOException {
        if (max_depth < depth) // enforce depth limit, abort criteria 1)
            throw new IOException("directory tree exceeds permitted depth");
        // ---
        int count = 0;
        if (file.isDirectory()) // if file is a directory, recur
            for (File entry : file.listFiles())
                count += visitRecursively(entry, depth + 1, delete);
        ++count; // count file as visited
        if (delete) {
            final boolean deleted = file.delete();
            if (!deleted) // abort criteria 3)
                throw new IOException("cannot delete " + file.getAbsolutePath());
            ++removed;
        }
        return count;
    }

    public int deletedCount() {
        return removed;
    }

    public void printNotification() {
        int count = deletedCount();
        if (0 < count)
            System.out.println("deleted " + count + " file(s) in " + root);
    }
}