I need to remove the first 42 lines of a 2GB SQL dump.

I know I can view the first lines using:

head -n 44 dump.sql

But is there anyway to edit or remove them?


If you want to just view the lines from the 43rd on you can use

tail -n +43 dump.sql

The + sign is important - without it, tail will print the last 43 lines instead. Alternatively with 'sed'

sed 1,42d dump.sql

If you want to really delete the first 42 lines from the original file then you can make sed make the change inplace with the -i option

sed -i 1,42d dump.sql
  • 1
    Awesome answer, fantastic use of tail. I found many times something new to learn from your answers. thanks.
    – sourav c.
    Jan 24 '14 at 19:20
  • 1
    Oh man tail -n +43 is a game changer! I've been using an awkward invocation of sed to the same effect. Jun 20 '17 at 3:16
  • 9
    What if you have no space left on device? sed -i 1,50000000d 17GigFile creates a temp file sedXYZ that consumes many more gigabytes. Is there an approach without temp files?
    – juanmf
    Oct 9 '18 at 20:48
  • What's the difference between tail -n +43 and head -n 44 as mentioned in the question? Aug 26 '19 at 20:00
  • @juanmf You might try to do this with a gui tool (I've done it using Mousepad, but the file of interest was "only" ~700MB. Takes awhile for the file to load, though...
    – Digger
    Oct 2 '19 at 21:54

This seems to be the easiest:

sed '1,42d' test.sql > test2.sql

Remove lines 1-42 from test.sql and save as test2.sql

  • 10
    a shorter one would be sed -i '1,42d' test.sql if you don't need to keep the original file.
    – Sadi
    Mar 2 '18 at 19:27

try this,

tail -n +43 dump.sql > dump_new.sql


You can use Vim in Ex mode:

ex -s -c '1d42|x' dump.sql
  1. 1 move to first line

  2. 42 select 42 lines

  3. d delete

  4. x save and close

  • 3
    Does it create a temp file? Is it possible to do this when space left on device is less than file size?
    – juanmf
    Nov 14 '18 at 6:40
  • 3
    @juanmf All these solutions require a temporary file. It is only possible to remove data from the end of a file without using a temporary file.
    – PerlDuck
    Nov 14 '18 at 15:21
  • 1
    @PerlDuck could you please elaborate on why (or link ressource) "It is only possible to remove data from the end of a file without using a temporary file" ? Dec 9 '19 at 14:12

Because of sed discrepancies across Linux and Mac, I resolved to use tail -n +43 dump.sql > new.sql format.

  • Won't work becuase > dump.sql is interpreted by the shell before tail ... dump.sql reads the file, i.e. the file is flushed before tail opens it, hence the file is completely empty after that command.
    – PerlDuck
    Dec 9 '19 at 16:29
  • 1
    @PerlDuck I must have probably used another file name at the time of writing this. This should work. Thanks for pointing it out! Dec 9 '19 at 23:47

Just to add this. If you're on a mac you need to add the backup extension. Answer from this post.

sed -i '.bak' 1,42d dump.sql

Sorry, I can't give you actual code right now. However, try looking at something along the lines of

tail -n arcv(`wc -l`) -44

What this should do (once properly formatted) is count the number of lines in the file (wc -l), subtract 44 from it (-44) and then print out everything starting with the 45th line in the file.

Hope this helps and good luck.

  • This is not quite optimal,calling wc -l on the file, you process it twice, whereas sed or tail process it only once.
    – yo'
    Jan 24 '14 at 18:36

Try this,

head -n 42 dump.sql > tmp; cat dump.sql | grep -vxf tmp > dump.sql.new; rm tmp


a=$(cat dump.sql| wc -l); tail -n "$((a-42))" dump.sql > dump.sql.new

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