Using logrotate for custom log directories with wildcards

Logrotate is a useful application for automatically rotating your log files. If you choose to store certain logs in directories that logrotate doesn’t know about, you need to create a definition for this.

In the example listed near the bottom of the post, we are showing how we can rotate our logs that are stored in /home/sites/logs. These logs are for Apache access and error logs. But also has a third log file that ends in .logs.

If you ran through this quickly, one might simply create a definition as a wildcard, such as:

Unfortunately, logrotate will read this literally and now will rotate compressed log files that were already in rotation, leaving you with a mess in your log directories like this:


And it just goes down hill from there. This exact thing happened to me cause I forgot to read the man page which clearly stated:

 Please use wildcards with caution. If you specify *, log rotate will
rotate all files, including previously rotated ones. A way around this
is to use the olddir directive or a more exact wildcard (such as

So using wildcards are still acceptable, but use them with caution. As I had three types of files to rotate in this example, I found that I can string them together as follows:

/home/sites/logs/*.error /home/sites/logs/*.access /home/sites/logs/*.log

I’ll post the example configuration below that was implemented on a FreeBSD solution for logging this custom directory:

cat /usr/local/etc/logrotate.conf
# see "man log rotate" for details
# rotate log files weekly

# keep 4 weeks worth of backlogs
rotate 30

# create new (empty) log files after rotating old ones

# uncomment this if you want your log files compressed

# RPM packages drop log rotation information into this directory
# include /usr/local/etc/logrotate.d

# system-specific logs may be configured here
/home/sites/logs/*.log {
rotate 30
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/apache22 reload > /dev/null 2>/dev/null

Now lets test this out to confirm the logs will rotate properly by running:

logrotate -f /usr/local/etc/logrotate.conf
logrotate -f /usr/local/etc/logrotate.conf
logrotate -f /usr/local/etc/logrotate.conf

When you check your logs directory, you should now see the files rotating out properly: