TOPS-20 Commands Reference Manual


Marks a file(s) for eventual erasure.


@DELETE (FILES) filespec,...,


filespec is the specification of a file that you want to delete.

Default .gen - all generations of the specified files

@@subcommand means that after a final comma you can give one of the following subcommands:
DELETE Subcommands
ARCHIVE both deletes the disk copy (if any) and gives up the tape copy of specified archived files.
BEFORE deletes the specified files that were created prior to the time and date indicated.
CONTENTS-ONLY deletes and immediately expunges only the disk copy of files that also have a tape copy. Note that you must use the RETRIEVE command, not UNDELETE, to restore such files to disk.
DIRECTORY deletes and immediately expunges a subdirectory without making the disk space available to the files of other users. Subdirectories appear as files with the type .DIRECTORY in the immediately superior directory. For users with enabled WHEEL or OPERATOR capabilities only.
EXPUNGE immediately and permanently erases the specified files from the directory.
FORGET deletes and immediately expunges the specified files without making their disk space available to the files of other users; for users with enabled WHEEL or OPERATOR capabilities only.
KEEP n saves the n most recent generations of the specified files while deleting the rest.
Default n - 1
LARGER n deletes the specified files that are larger than n number of pages.
SINCE deletes the specified files that were created since the time and date indicated.
SMALLER n deletes the specified files that are smaller than n number of pages.


Notice of Deleted Archived Files

Whenever an archived file is completely expunged as a result of your DELETE command (that is, when you also give the ARCHIVE subcommand), the operator sends a mail message notifying the owner of the directory from which the file was taken.


Privileged Subcommands to DELETE

The DIRECTORY and FORGET subcommands to the DELETE command are intended for privileged users only, and only as a last resort, because they withhold freed disk space from system use. Users with enabled WHEEL or OPERATOR capabilities can run the CHECKD program to recover this disk space.

DIRECTORY should not be used unless the KILL subcommand to a BUILD command fails to delete the directory. FORGET is for removing damaged files from directories, and should not be used unless DELETE without subcommands fails to delete the file.


Removing Open Files

If DELETE with the EXPUNGE subcommand fails to erase a file, it may be that some job in the system has opened it. The INFORMATION FILE-STATUS command tells whether your own job has done so. If it has, give the CLOSE or (if the file is mapped) RESET command before repeating DELETE and EXPUNGE.

Recovering Deleted Archived Files

If you have given the DELETE command with the ARCHIVE subcommand to delete an archived file, and the disk copy has already been expunged, you may still be able to recover the tape copy. The operator will send a MAIL message (see Output, above) concerning the discarded tape copy of the deleted file. Use this information, along with Hints - Undoing DISCARD, in the DISCARD command description, to attempt recovery of the deleted file.

Special Cases

Files With the "Permanent" Attribute

The system erases only the contents of any files that have the Permanent attribute (for example, MAIL.TXT in your log-in directory) when you include them in a DELETE command. Their file specifications remain among your deleted files, and cannot be removed by TOPS-20 commands.


Using Logical Names When Specifying Files for Deletion

If you include a logical name when specifying arguments to a DELETE command, the system will search for the specified file in only the first directory of the logical name's definition. This restriction prevents the accidental deletion of another file if the file you intended to delete has already been deleted.

Using the LARGER/SMALLER and BEFORE/SINCE Subcommands Together

You can use size-related and time-related subcommands together. However, error messages are displayed if you use the LARGER/SMALLER pairing and the SMALLER number of pages exceeds the LARGER number, or you use the BEFORE/SINCE pairing and the SINCE date is later than the BEFORE date.


Erasure of Deleted Files

Ordinarily an UNDELETE command given during the same terminal session as an original deletion will recover the deleted files, unless you included the EXPUNGE subcommand to DELETE or gave a subsequent EXPUNGE command. However, if any user or a batch job logs out while connected to your directory, all deleted files are permanently erased. Also, if available disk space is low on the system, the operator or the system itself may expunge all deleted files from a structure even though you have not logged out. A warning message is usually sent before this happens.

Related Commands

DIRECTORY, with the DELETED subcommand files for displaying a list of deleted
DISCARD for giving up only the tape copy of on-line files
EXPUNGE for permanently removing deleted files
INFORMATION DISK-USAGE for finding out how much disk space is available, and how much is associated with deleted files
UNDELETE for recovering deleted files


  1. Delete two of your files.
     TTY.SCM.1 [OK]
     VERCBL.BAT.2 [OK]
  2. Delete all your object files and all your backup files produced by the EDIT program. Then log out (this will expunge them).
    @DELETE *.REL, *.Q*
     TESTA1.REL.1 [OK]
     TESTF1.REL.1 [OK]
     TESTC1.QBL.2 [OK]
     TESTF1.QOR.4 [OK]
    Killed Job 32, User J.L.PAGE, Account 341, TTy 41
      at 25-Apr-84 10:15:51, Used 0:1:46 in 1:23:59
  3. Delete some files, and check what files are currently deleted in your connected directory. Give the UNDELETE command for two of these, then expunge the remaining deleted files and verify that they are gone.
     4-UPED.QXT.7 [OK]
     MAIL.QXT.1 [OK]
     REMARK.QXT.3 [OK]
    Total of 17 files
     TTY.SCM.1 [OK]
     VERCBL.BAT.2 [OK]
     PS:<J.L.PAGE> [8 pages freed]
  4. Delete the files with the .MAC extension that were created between 2-Feb-87 and 3-Mar-87.
    @DELETE *.MAC,
    @@BEFORE 3-MAR-87 11:00:04
    @@SINCE 2-FEB-87 23:30
  5. Delete the files named MYFILE.MEM that are between 50 and 150 pages.
    @@LARGER 50
    @@SMALLER 150