Linux Tactic

Maximizing your Computer’s Storage Space with Symlinks

Understanding Symlinks

Have you ever come across the term Symlink or Symbolic Link while working on your computer? If not, worry not.

In this article, we will explain what Symlinks are and how they function.

Definition and Functionality of Symlinks

A Symlink or Symbolic Link is a type of file that acts as a reference to another file or folder in a computer’s file system. It is a shortcut to a file location, which allows you to access the content of the file without physically moving it from its original location.

Symlinks are used to simplify file management on a computer. Instead of creating a new copy of a file in a different location, you can create a symlink to it, and any changes made to the original file will automatically reflect in all of its symlinks.

Understanding Broken Symlinks and Their Impact

A Broken Symlink is a symlink that points to a file that no longer exists in the system, due to deletion or relocation. When a symlink is broken, clicking on it will result in an error message, and the content it refers to becomes inaccessible.

Broken symlinks can take up storage space in your system, as the symlink file still exists even though it refers to nothing. As a result, it is a good practice to remove or fix any broken symlinks to free up storage space.

Verifying a Symbolic Link

To verify if a file is a symbolic link, we can use the ‘file’ command on the terminal. The command ‘file filename’ will give you the file type of the filename you are measuring.

For example, suppose you have a file named practice and you want to verify if it is a symlink. In that case, you can use the command “file practice,” and if it is a symlink, it will display something like this, “practice: symbolic link to /usr/local/games/”.

Finding Broken Symlinks

Finding Broken Symlinks in a Specific Directory

If you suspect there are broken symlinks in a particular directory in your computer, you can use the ‘find’ command to locate them. The command ‘find /directory-path -xtype l’ will search for all the broken symlinks in the specified directory path.

For example, if you want to find all the broken symlinks in directory path ‘/home/user/documents’, you can use the command ‘find /home/user/documents -xtype l.’ The command will display a list of broken symlinks in the directory.

Using the Find Command to Locate Broken Symlinks

The ‘find’ command can also be used to locate all the broken symlinks on your entire system. However, this command can take a long time to execute, depending on the number of files in your system.

The ‘find’ command syntax for locating all broken symlinks on your system is ‘sudo find / -xtype l.’ This command will search the entire system for broken symlinks and display them in the terminal window.


Symlinks or Symbolic Links are essential components in simplifying file management on your computer system. They are shortcuts that provide easy access to files or folders without moving them from their original locations.

However, broken symlinks can cause clutter in your system and take up storage space. It is therefore critical to identify and fix them using the ‘find’ command to ensure that your computer system’s storage space is maximized.

Deleting Broken Symlinks

When dealing with broken symlinks, it is essential to remove them from your system to free up storage space. In this section, we will cover two methods of deleting broken symlinks.


Deleting Broken Symlinks with the RM Command

One way to delete broken symlinks is by using the RM or Remove command in the terminal. This method is best suited for users with experience in using the terminal and have a good understanding of basic Linux commands.

To manually remove a symlink, you need to open a terminal window and navigate to the directory where the symlink is located. You can then use the ‘RM’ command followed by the symlinks name to delete it.

For example, if you have a broken symlink named ‘shortcut’ in a directory named ‘documents’, you can use the following command to delete the symlink,

“`rm documents/shortcut“`

Once executed, the symlink file will be deleted from your system, and the storage space it occupied will be freed up.

Deleting Broken Symlinks with the Find Command

Another way to delete broken symlinks is by using the ‘find’ command. This method is useful for users with limited experience using the terminal, as it is a simple, single command line to remove all broken symlinks on their system.

The syntax for using the ‘find’ command to delete broken symlinks is as follows,

“`find /path/to/folder -type l -xtype l -delete“`

In the command above, the ‘-type l’ option specifies that the search is for a symlink. The ‘-xtype l’ specifies that the symlink is broken, and the ‘-delete’ option asks the command to delete the broken symlink.

For example, if you want to delete all the broken symlinks in your home directory, you can use the following command. “`find ~/ -type l -xtype l -delete“`

The command will search for all the broken symlinks in your home directory and delete them.

Note that this command may take some time to execute since it scans the entire system. Caution:

When using the ‘find’ command to delete broken symlinks, you need to be cautious as it can cause unintended results in your system.

The command may delete other files or directories that are not broken symlinks, leading to permanent data loss. Therefore, it is essential to verify the symlinks’ contents before deleting them or create a backup before executing the command.


Deleting broken symlinks from your system is a critical step in maintaining storage space and system efficiency. The two methods discussed above will help you remove broken symlinks from your system.

The manual method is best suited for advanced users, while the ‘find’ command is ideal for beginners. However, users need to be cautious when using the ‘find’ command, as it can cause unintended results in your system.

By following the guidelines above, you can easily delete broken symlinks and ensure your system’s stability and efficiency. In summary, symlinks are shortcuts to files or folders that simplify file management on a computer system.

Broken symlinks are links that point to file locations that no longer exist and can lead to clutter in your system and waste of storage space. To gain storage space and system efficiency, it is crucial to delete any broken symlinks found on your system.

This can be done manually using the RM command or with a single-command line using the ‘find’ command. It is essential to be cautious when using the ‘find’ command not to delete unintended files or directories.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, one can identify and delete broken symlinks from their system, thus enhancing their system’s storage space and efficiency while simplifying file management.

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