How to Find Out Top Directories and Files (Disk Space) in Linux

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Senthil Kumar

A Linux Consultant, living in India. He loves very much to write about Linux, Open Source, Computers and Internet. Apart from that, He'd like to review Internet tools and web services.

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19 Responses

  1. Bob Stein says:

    My problem isn’t big files, it’s a huge number of tiny files. How can I list the biggest directories *by the number of files*?

    • Ravi Saive says:


      You can find the number of files including its sizes with the following command:

      # find . -xdev -type f | cut -d "/" -f 1,2 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

      The above output lists the number of files contained in a directory, including subdirectories, sorted by number of files.

  2. Adam Wells says:

    How do I can list all the files in several directories and at the end write the total of all the files and directories. I’m using the du command as fallow:

    # du -sh /public/base/sites/F*/*20070115*

    this command give me the size of all the files but not the global total.

  3. Aaren Watts says:

    To find big files and directories you have to use 3 commands is 1 line du, sort, and head.

    1- du : Estimate file space usage
    2- sort : Sort lines of text files or given input data
    3- head : Output the first part of files i.e. to display first 10 largest file

    Let give on example:- .

    Find largets 20 files or directories, I prefer root access to execute the commands.

    # du -a /var | sort -n -r | head -n 20
    [[email protected] ~]# du -a /etc  | sort -n -r | head -20
    125520  /etc
    66376   /etc/gconf
    44932   /etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults
    43084   /etc/selinux
    43052   /etc/selinux/targeted
    40772   /etc/selinux/targeted/modules
    40740   /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active
    21388   /etc/gconf/schemas
    18928   /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active/base.linked
    14716   /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active/base.pp
    4796    /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active/modules
    2972    /etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults/%gconf-tree.xml
    2768    /etc/rc.d
    1884    /etc/selinux/targeted/policy
    1876    /etc/selinux/targeted/policy/policy.21
    1876    /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active/policy.kern
    1836    /etc/gconf/schemas/gnome-terminal.schemas
    1328    /etc/gconf/schemas/apps_nautilus_preferences.schemas
    1284    /etc/firmware
    1276    /etc/firmware/microcode.dat
    [[email protected] ~]#
  4. David Parker says:

    Only works with GNU find.

    # find /path/to/dir/ -printf '%s %p\n'| sort -nr | head -10
    # find . -printf '%s %p\n'| sort -nr | head -10
    Sample outputs:
    5700875 ./images/faq/2013/11/iftop-outputs.gif
    5459671 ./videos/faq/2013/12/glances/glances.webm
    5091119 ./videos/faq/2013/12/glances/glances.ogv
    4706278 ./images/faq/2013/09/
    3911341 ./videos/faq/2013/12/vim-exit/vim-exit.ogv
    3640181 ./videos/faq/2013/12/python-subprocess/python-subprocess.webm
    3571712 ./images/faq/2013/12/glances-demo-large.gif
    3222684 ./videos/faq/2013/12/vim-exit/vim-exit.mp4
    3198164 ./videos/faq/2013/12/python-subprocess/python-subprocess.ogv
    3056537 ./images/faq/2013/08/debian-as-parent-distribution.png.bak

    You can skip directories and only display files, type:

    find /path/to/search/ -type f -printf ‘%s %p\n’| sort -nr | head -10

  5. Staffing Services says:

    I tried this:

    # find . -type d -size +100M

    Which shows result like this:


    Now this is my issue. I only want the name of those files located in folders that are consuming space at / and not at /u01 or /home. Since / is base of everything, it is showing me every file of my server.

    Is is possible to get big files that is contributing to 78% of / ?

  6. Cloud Consulting Services says:

    “find / -type f -size +20000k -exec ls -lh {} ; | awk ‘{ print $8 “: ” $5 }’”

    needs to have the exec altered

    find / -type f -size +20000k -exec ls -lh {} \; | awk ‘{ print $8 “: ” $5 }’

    Also, I find this output easier to read

    find . -type f -size +20000k -exec ls -lh {} \; | awk ‘{print $5″: “$8}’

  7. This lists files recursively if they’re normal files, sorts by the 7th field (which is size in my find output; check yours), and shows just the first file.

    # find . -type f -ls | sort +7 | head -1

    The first option to find is the start path for the recursive search. A -type of f searches for normal files. Note that if you try to parse this as a filename, you may fail if the filename contains spaces, newlines or other special characters. The options to sort also vary by operating system. I’m using FreeBSD.

    A “better” but more complex and heavier solution would be to have find traverse the directories, but perhaps use stat to get the details about the file, then perhaps use awk to find the largest size. Note that the output of stat also depends on your operating system.

  8. Gilles Pion says:

    Sorting using “sort -n” the output of “du -Sh” (“h” stands for “human-readable”) gives incorrect results: sizes are printed by “du” in float values with trailing unit indicator (none, “K”, “G”). For instance 1.2M is sorted as *lower* than 4.0K (since 1 < 4) which is false.

    So, instead of
    find /home/tecmint/Downloads/ -type f -exec du -Sh {} + | sort -rh | head -n 5
    You'd better use
    find /home/tecmint/Downloads/ -type f -printf "%s %p\n" | sort -rn | head -n 5
    which gives the 5 top size files.

    • Gilles Pion says:

      Oups! Didn’t noticed the “-h” option to “sort” too (which I didn’t knew BTW).
      So that’s OK.

    • Ravi Saive says:


      Thanks for the tip, will include your command as alternative way to achieve the same results with better format..

  9. Good advice. I’ve put together a tool that makes a lot of this even easier, in case anyone is interested.

    I expect that urls are not permitted in content, but are invited for one’s name, so I’ve placed the bitbucket link to my script, “duke” there.

    • Ravi Saive says:


      Thanks for sharing the duke tool, seems excellent with nice presentation of files sizes and their ages, will surely write about this duke tool on our next article. Could you please send more about the tool and features at [email protected]?

  10. mikeg9b says:

    You can also use ncdu.

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