It doesn’t matter if you are a system administrator or a regular desktop user, managing disk space in Linux is an important task. However, Linux has a strong built-in commands to check disk space called ‘df‘ adn ‘du’.
Table of contents
df command stands for disk filesystem. It is used to get a full summary of available and used disk space usage of the file system on Linux system.
du command, short for disk usage, is used to estimate file space usage. The
du command can be used to track the files and directories which are consuming excessive amount of space on hard disk drive.
Check Disk Space in Linux Using df Command
The easiest and more popular way to check your disk space is to run the
$ df <options>
If you run the
df command, this is the output that you would get.
ubuntu:~$ df Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on udev 2007152 0 2007152 0% /dev tmpfs 403960 716 403244 1% /run /dev/vda1 81120644 31236604 49867656 39% / tmpfs 2019792 0 2019792 0% /dev/shm tmpfs 5120 0 5120 0% /run/lock tmpfs 2019792 0 2019792 0% /sys/fs/cgroup /dev/vda15 106858 3668 103190 4% /boot/efi tmpfs 403956 0 403956 0% /run/user/0 tmpfs 403956 0 403956 0% /run/user/1000
By default, the
df command shows six columns :
- Filesystem: the name of the filesystem that may be equal to the partition name on your filesystem (/dev/vda1 or /dev/sda1 for example);
- 1K-blocks: the number of blocks on the filesystem of size 1Kb. The /dev/vda1 contains 81120644 1K-blocks, it has 81120644000 bytes or 78,5 gigabytes of space in total;
- Used: the number of 1K-blocks used on the filesystem;
- Available: the number of 1K-blocks available for the filesystem;
- Use %: the percentage of disk used on the filesystem;
- Mounted on: the mountpoint used in order to mount the filesystem.
Show Disk Space Usage in Human Readable Format
Have you noticed that above commands displays information in bytes, which is not readable at all. We are in a habit of reading the sizes in megabytes, gigabytes etc. as it makes very easy to understand and remember.
df command provides an option to display sizes in Human Readable formats by using
-h (prints the results in human readable format (e.g., 1K 2M 3G)).
$ df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on udev 2.0G 0 2.0G 0% /dev tmpfs 395M 716K 394M 1% /run /dev/vda1 78G 30G 48G 39% / tmpfs 2.0G 0 2.0G 0% /dev/shm tmpfs 5.0M 0 5.0M 0% /run/lock tmpfs 2.0G 0 2.0G 0% /sys/fs/cgroup /dev/vda15 105M 3.6M 101M 4% /boot/efi tmpfs 395M 0 395M 0% /run/user/0 tmpfs 395M 0 395M 0% /run/user/1000
Check Specific Filesystem Disk Space
In some cases, you may want to restrict your search to specific filesystems on your host. To check disk space for a specific filesystem, you have to run the following command:
$ df <options> <path>
For example, to check disk information related to the root mountpoint, you would run:
$ df -h /
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on /dev/vda1 78G 30G 48G 39% /
Look at Specific Fields on the Output
To achieve this result, simply append a
-output flag on your commands.
$ df -h --output='field1','field2' /
For example, to show only the size and the usage percentage, you would run:
$ df -h --output='size','pcent' /
Size Use% 78G 39%
Check inode Usage on Linux
In some very specific cases, you may need to check the inode usage on your Linux filesystems.
The files are tightly coupled with inodes on the filesystem. However, this inode table is limited in size. As a consequence, you may run out of inode entries before running out of disk space.
If your system already handles too many files (tiny or not), it won’t be able to allocate more space to new files, even if your disk has 30GBs available.
In order to check inode usage on Linux, append the
-inodes flag to the
$ df --inodes
Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on udev 501788 384 501404 1% /dev tmpfs 504948 617 504331 1% /run /dev/vda1 10321920 320672 10001248 4% / tmpfs 504948 1 504947 1% /dev/shm tmpfs 504948 4 504944 1% /run/lock tmpfs 504948 18 504930 1% /sys/fs/cgroup /dev/vda15 0 0 0 - /boot/efi tmpfs 504948 19 504929 1% /run/user/0 tmpfs 504948 10 504938 1% /run/user/1000
Similarly, you can check inode usage in a human readable way by specifying the “-h” option.
$ df -h --inodes /
Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on /dev/vda1 9.9M 314K 9.6M 4% /
Check Disk Space in Linux Using du Command
du command is used in order to have disk usage information related to directories and files on your system.
$ du <option> <path|file> $ du <option> <path1> <path2> <path3>
As specified, you can either have the disk usage for a specific file, or for a path on the system.
Check File Disk Usage
In order to check the disk usage of a specific file, simply append the name of the file to the
For example, to check the size of the .bashrc file, you would run:
$ du ~/.bashrc
By default, sizes are displayed in kilobytes. However you can change the default display by specifying a size format with the
$ du -BM ~/.bashrc
Note that sizes will be rounded to the nearest whole number. In this case, the .bashrc file is not 1Mb large in size, but it has been rounded automatically.
Of course, you can also choose to have sizes displayed in a human readable format, verifying that sizes are indeed displayed in kilobytes.
$ du -h ~/.bashrc
The “-h” option can be combined with the
-apparent-size option in order to get the real size of a file without rounding.
$ du -h --apparent-size ~/.bashrc
Check Directory Disk Usage
On the other hand, you can check directory disk usage by specifying a path to the
For example, if you are looking for the disk usage for all directories on the filesystem, you would run:
$ du /
... 0 /run/udev/links/\x2fdisk\x2fby-id\x2fwwn-0x5002538e09a787b4-part3 0 /run/udev/links/\x2fdisk\x2fby-partuuid\x2f6bd9a838-03 0 /run/udev/links/\x2fdisk\x2fby-id\x2fwwn-0x5002538e09a787b4 0 /run/udev/links/\x2fdisk\x2fby-path\x2fpci-0000:00:1f.2-ata-1 0 /run/udev/links 868 /run/udev/data 868 /run/udev 4 /run/tmpfiles.d 0 /run/initramfs 1384 /run 448393904
However, in some cases, you don’t want to see the output for every single file or directory on the path, but rather a total for the given path.
To check the total disk usage for a given path, use
du with the
$ sudo du -shc /home
2.8G /home 2.8G total
Here is a breakdown of the options used :
- -s : for summarize, it will display a total for each path provided instead of the full listing of every single file and directory in it;
- -c : for grand total, if you specify multiple paths, it will sum them in order to produce a grand total for them;
- -h : for human readable, it will display results with units.
As you can see the
du commands are a very useful to check disk space in Linux. By refining the information returned by
du it is easy to find out how much hard disk space is in use, and to discover what is taking up that space. Therefore, you can make an informed decision about moving some data to other storage, adding another hard drive to your computer or deleting redundant data.