Some time ago I had some problems with my Mac drive, so I went to the recovery partition and used Disk Utility to check for problems. It reported a huge discrepancy between the journaled free blocks and the actual free blocks, in the case of gigabytes.

I was wondering what may have caused this problem, and I remembered deleting a huge hierarchy of folders using rm -rf, and since this command is almost instantaneous, I thought it may have caused this problem.

Does this make any sense? Should I avoid using this command on OS X with a Journaled drive?


NOTE FOR CASUAL READERS: rm -rf destroys data. Use with caution.

rm -rf may appear to go fast, but it is actually recursively going depth-first into each directory and unlinking the files within—the same operation that is used for any file deletion on Unix systems.

You can see how rm -rf works by adding the -v flag, e.g. rm -rfv.

There's no reason to believe that rm itself is responsible for journaling failures. It's a proven and safe command that does not have any low-level access to the disk.

It is possible that the access pattern created triggered some bug in HFS+, but that seems unlikely as well; I rm -rf sizable trees of files on my machine frequently and haven't seen a problem.

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