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Introduction

When you are running out of disk space, you need to concentrate on the biggest files and folders on your disk, so you can get space quickly.

The best way, is to list the first 10 folders, then go inside some of them, and find files you may or can delete, and get new free space.

Commands needed

There is not a single command in Linux to help us with this task, but we will use du, sort and head.

du Summarize disk usage of each FILE, recursively for directories. sort Write sorted concatenation of all FILE(s) to standard output. head Print the first 10 lines of each FILE to standard output. With more than one FILE, precede each with a header giving the file name. With no FILE, or when FILE is -, read standard input.

Find biggest top 10 folders in your disk

du -hs */ | sort -nr | head

This will give you the biggest folders in the disk, then you can enter inside one of them, preferable the biggest ones.

Find the biggest files inside folders

ls -lS | head

That is, you now have the biggest files in that folder.

Find biggest files in any folder recursively

We’ll now use find, to find only files, and then sort, to have only the biggest files listed.

find -type f -ls | sort -k 7 -r -n | head -5

find helps us list only files and not folders, then sort using the column 7 (the column with the file size) we sort using -n numeric order and -r reverse order (from biggest to smallest), and finally only the first 5 files in the current folder, and sub-folders.

You can use this way

find / -type f -ls | sort -k 7 -r -n | head -5

And that will work, for all disk from root.