How To Check Linux File Creation Time

How To Check Linux File Creation Time

Linux file creation time, also known as the “ctime” or “change time”, refers to the time when a file’s metadata was last changed. This includes changes to the file’s permissions, ownership, or attributes, but not changes to its contents. Understanding and working with file creation time can be useful for various administrative tasks and troubleshooting scenarios. In this guide, we will explore various aspects of Linux file creation time, including how to view it, manipulate it, and automate tasks related to it.

Viewing File Creation Time

To view the creation time of a file in Linux, you can use the stat command followed by the file’s name or path. The output will include the creation time, among other metadata.

stat filename

For example, to view the creation time of a file named “example.txt”, you would run:

stat example.txt

Manipulating File Creation Time

Changing the file creation time directly is not possible in Linux, as it is controlled by the system. However, there are ways to indirectly modify the creation time by manipulating other file attributes.

One approach is to use the touch command to update the file’s access and modification times. By setting these timestamps to a specific value, you can effectively change the file’s creation time.

touch -t YYYYMMDDHHMM.SS filename

For example, to set the creation time of a file named “example.txt” to January 1, 2022, at 12:00 PM, you would run:

touch -t 202201011200.00 example.txt

Saving File Creation Time

If you need to save the creation time of a file for future reference or comparison, you can redirect the output of the stat command to a file using the > operator.

stat filename > creation_time.txt

This will create a file named “creation_time.txt” containing the output of the stat command, which includes the creation time.

Automating Tasks with File Creation Time

File creation time can be leveraged for various automation tasks in Linux. Here are a few ideas:

  • Backup Rotation: Use file creation time to determine which files to include in a backup rotation scheme. For example, you can create a script that identifies files older than a certain date and moves them to a separate directory for archiving.
  • Log Monitoring: Monitor log files for changes based on their creation time. This can be useful for detecting unusual activity or troubleshooting issues.
  • File Synchronization: Compare the creation times of files in different directories to determine which files need to be synchronized or updated.

Useful Commands and Similar Commands

Here is a table summarizing some useful commands related to Linux file creation time:

Command Description
stat filename Displays detailed information about a file, including the creation time.
touch -t YYYYMMDDHHMM.SS filename Updates a file’s access and modification times, indirectly changing the creation time.
ls -lt List files in a directory sorted by their modification time (latest first).
find /path -type f -mtime +n Finds files in a directory that were modified more than n days ago.

Similar commands that provide information about file timestamps include:

ls -l
ls -lu
ls -lc

These commands display the file’s modification time, access time, and change time, respectively.


Understanding Linux file creation time and how to work with it can be valuable for various administrative tasks, troubleshooting scenarios, and automation. By using commands like stat and touch, you can view and manipulate file creation time as needed. Additionally, leveraging file creation time for automation tasks can help streamline processes and improve efficiency in a Linux environment.

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