Tag Archives: noclobber

How to protect files from overwriting with noclobber in bash

This tip is for people who have ever hosed important files by using > when they meant to use >>. Add the following line to .bashrc:

“`set -o noclobber“`

The noclobber option prevents you from overwriting existing files with the > operator.

If the redirection operator is ‘>’, and the noclobber option to the set builtin has been enabled, the redirection will fail if the file whose name results from the expansion of word exists and is a regular file. If the redirection operator is ‘>|’, or the redirection operator is ‘>’ and the noclobber option is not enabled, the redirection is attempted even if the file named by word exists.

Example:

$ echo "Hello, world" >file.txt
$ cat file.txt
Hello, world
$ echo "This will overwrite the first greeting." >file.txt
$ cat file.txt
This will overwrite the first greeting.
$ set -o noclobber
$ echo "Can we overwrite it again?" >file.txt
-bash: file.txt: cannot overwrite existing file
$ echo "But we can use the >| operator to ignore the noclobber." >|file.txt
$ cat file.txt # Successfully overwrote the contents of file.txt using the >| operator
But we can use the >| operator to ignore the noclobber.
$ set +o noclobber # Changes setting back

 

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