Java.nio: most concise recursive directory delete

If you already have Spring Core as part of your project, here is an easy way to do it:



You can combine NIO 2 and the Stream API.

Path rootPath = Paths.get("/data/to-delete");
// before you copy and paste the snippet
// - read the post till the end
// - read the javadoc to understand what the code will do 
// a) to follow softlinks (removes the linked file too) use
// Files.walk(rootPath, FileVisitOption.FOLLOW_LINKS)
// b) to not follow softlinks (removes only the softlink) use
// the snippet below
try (Stream<Path> walk = Files.walk(rootPath)) {
  • Files.walk - return all files/directories below rootPath including
  • .sorted - sort the list in reverse order, so the directory itself comes after the including subdirectories and files
  • .map - map the Path to File
  • .peek - is there only to show which entry is processed
  • .forEach - calls the .delete() method on every File object

EDIT As first mentioned by @Seby and now cited by @John Dough the Files.walk() should be used in a try-with-resource construct. Thanks to both.

From Files.walk javadoc

If timely disposal of file system resources is required, the try-with-resources construct should be used to ensure that the stream's close method is invoked after the stream operations are completed.


Here are some figures.
The directory /data/to-delete contained the unpacked rt.jar of jdk1.8.0_73 and a recent build of activemq.

files: 36,427
dirs :  4,143
size : 514 MB

Times in milliseconds

                    int. SSD     ext. USB3
NIO + Stream API    1,126        11,943
FileVisitor         1,362        13,561

Both version were executed without printing file names. The most limiting factor is the drive. Not the implementation.


Some addtional information about tthe option FileVisitOption.FOLLOW_LINKS.

Assume following file and directory structure

/data/to-delete/dont-delete -> ../dont-delete


Files.walk(rootPath, FileVisitOption.FOLLOW_LINKS)

will follow symlinks and the file /tmp/dont_delete/bar would be deleted as well.



will not follow symlinks and the file /tmp/dont_delete/bar would not be deleted.

NOTE: Never use code as copy and paste without understanding what it does.

The following solution doesn't need the conversion from Path to File objects:

Path rootPath = Paths.get("/data/to-delete");     
final List<Path> pathsToDelete = Files.walk(rootPath).sorted(Comparator.reverseOrder()).collect(Collectors.toList());
for(Path path : pathsToDelete) {