How to find files that are eating up disk space

Andy Greenwood greenwood.andy at
Wed Dec 17 17:55:41 UTC 2008

Hash: SHA1

John Almberg wrote:
> Here is another newbie question that is driving me crazy, but is
probably a laughable situation to an experienced admin...
> I've got a smallish server that is suddenly out of disk space in the
'/' partition.
> Probably some log files have gotten out of hand. I am going to start
looking for the culprits by hand... basically inspecting sub
directories, but there must be a better way!
> Is there a command line tool that will help me figure out where the
problem is?
> Even better, is there a way to proactively monitor the file system, so
I can fix problems before I start getting 'out of disk space' errors?
> Any hints, much appreciated.


try man du. It will give you file sizes of all the files in a directory
tree, which you can then pass to sort and head to pull out the biggest
offenders, like this

# cd /
# du | sort -rn | head -10

for monitoring my system, I use tripwire, but that might be a bit much
just for watching disk usage. Try putting a "df -h" in your periodic
scripts to have the output of that command mailed to you each day.
> -- John
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