How to Check Disk Usage in Linux

How to Check Disk Usage in Linux (4 Methods)

There may be times when you need to download some important files or transfer some photos to your Linux system, but face a problem of insufficient disk space. You head over to your file manager to delete the large files which you no longer require, but you have no clue which of them are occupying most of your disk space. In this article, we will show some easy methods to check disk usage in Linux from both the terminal and the GUI application.

Monitor Disk Usage in Linux (2023)

Check Disk Space Using the df Command

In Linux, there are many commands to check disk usage, the most common being the df command. The df stands for “Disk Filesystem” in the command, which is a handy way to check the current disk usage and the available disk space in Linux. The syntax for the df command in Linux is as follows:

df <options> <file_system>

The options to use with the df command are:

-aShow information about all file systems including pseudo, duplicate and inaccessible file systems
-hDisplay the sizes in human-readable format i.e in powers of 1024
-tDisplay the disk usage of only the file system of a particular type
-xDisplay the disk usage excluding a particular file type

Display Disk Usage in Human Readable Format

The df command shows the sizes in bytes, which may be hard for some people to read. To see file sizes in a human-readable format such as megabytes, gigabytes, etc., then use the -h flag.Here’s what the syntax looks like:

df -h

showing disk usage in human readable form

Display Disk Occupancy of a Particular Type

You can also view the disk usage of a particular file system type using the -t flag as shown below:

df -t <file_system_type>

disk usage of ext4 type partition using df command

Check Disk Usage using the du Command

The df command only shows the disk usage for the entire file system and not for individual files and directories. To view the disk usage for individual files and directories, use the du command. Here, du stands for “disk usage“. The syntax to use the du command is:

du <option> <file>

The options to use with the du command are:

-aShows details of all files
-hShows the file sizes in human-readable format
-sDisplays the size of a particular directory
-cShows the total usage of the entire directory

Display Disk Usage in Human Readable Format

To display the sizes in human readable format like in megabytes, gigabytes, etc. instead of bytes, use the -h flag via the command syntax below:

du -h

display sizes in human readable format

Display Disk Usage for a Particular Directory

The du command shows the disk usage for all folders. But you can view the disk usage for a specific folder, using the -s flag with the basic command as under:

du -s -h <directory_name>

check the disk usage of a specific directory using du command

Compare Disk Usage of Two Directories

With the du command, you can also compare the disk usage of two or more directories as shown below:

du <options> <directory_1> <directory_2>

comparing two directory sizes

Clean Disk Space Using the Command Line

You can use either of the du and the df commands in combination with other Linux commands to list out the files and directories occupying the most space. Then, you can choose to keep those files or delete files in Linux to free up storage space on your computer.

Sorting Files based on File Size

The du command displays the file size for all files in a directory, but when combined with the sort command using the pipe character ‘|‘, you can see the results sorted in decreasing order of their file size. The syntax to use both commands is:

du -a <directory_path> | sort -rn

Here, the pipe character ‘|‘ is used to send the output of one command as the input for another command. In the second part of the syntax, the -r flag is used to sort in reverse order and the -n flag is used to sort files based on the numeric value. However, do not delete files just on the basis of file size as you could accidentally delete important files which are required for the functioning of the Linux system.

sorting all files based on file size

Exclude Files Based on Their File Size

There are numerous ways to exclude files based on their file size by combining various commands, but the easiest way is to use the find command to exclude files exceeding a certain size. The syntax to use the find command to exclude files based on their file size is:

find <directory_path> -size -<file_size_to_exclude>

You can also use the -exec flag to combine with other commands, taking the output of the find command as the input for the other command.

Excluding files based on file size

Exclude Files Based on their Types

The du command has a important flag known as the --exclude flag, which can be used to exclude certain file types when the command is used in combination with other commands. The syntax to use the --exclude flag with the du command is:

du -h <path_to_directory> --exclude="*<file_extension>"

Here, the * is used as a wild card which signifies that all the characters should match the input while parsing the directory.

excluding items using wild card

Check Disk Usage Using GUI

The command line output for various disk usage commands can be hard for some people to understand. So there are some GUI alternatives that make the task of monitoring disk usage easy. Some common GUI tools to monitor disk usage are the GDU Disk Usage Analyzer and the Gnome Disks Tool,which can be easily installed using the following command:

Installing disk usage analyzer:

sudo snap install gdu-disk-usage-analyzer

Installing disk-utility tool:

sudo apt-get -y install gnome-disk-utility

Check Disk Usage Using Gnome Disk Tool

The Gnome disk utility tool is generally used to format storage partitions to a specific type. In the default view, all the storage partitions are shown.

To know details about a partition such as the device name, file system type, available space, and more, you need to click on the partition’s name. The disk utility tool is a useful tool, but you can lose all your important data if used carelessly.

checking available disk space using Gnome Disks Tool

Check Disk Usage Using Disk Usage Analyzer Tool

Monitoring disk usage is much easier in GUI using the Disk Usage Analyzer Tool as compared to CLI. After installing this tool, access it via the Applications menu and then follow the steps below:

1. When you first open the Disk Usage Analyzer tool, it will show all the storage partitions connected to your system along with your Home directory.

listing all partitions attached to the system

2. To know about the disk usage of any device, click on the device name. It will scan the entire device and display a ring chart of the disk occupancy for all the folders. When you hover over any portion of the graph, you will see which folders are occupying the most disk space.

Ring chart for disk occupancy

Cleanup Disk using Disk Usage Analyzer

After analyzing different locations of the file system, you might want to delete some of the storage hogging files. The Disk Usage Analyzer Tool also doubles up as a cleanup tool for the files or folders you want to delete. To delete any files or folders:

1. Navigate to the file you want to delete from the file system tree. Right-click on the item and select the “Move To Trash” option.

deleting a folder using the Disk Usage Analyzer

As a safety measure, this tool moves the files and folder to the “Trash” location, so that you don’t delete an important file by accident. The trash location can then be emptied using any file manager.

Easily Check Disk Usage in Linux

Managing disk space is an important skill for file management, and it’s crucial to keep disk drives healthy for a long time. We hope that the methods shown in this guide will help you check disk usage in Linux. If you face any issues, do let us know in the comments below.

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