How to understand what's taking up disk space?

I’m looking for a linux alternative to WinDirStat. I would like to know what is taking up space on my hard drives.

A program that works on console and doesn’t require a UI is preferred .

Asked By: ripper234


If you want a command-line tool, I prefer ncdu, an ncurses version of du. It scans the disk (or a given folder) and then shows the top-level space usages; you can select a given directory to get the corresponding summary for that directory, and go back without needing to reanalyze:

Screenshot of ncdu

If you’re ok with a GUI program, Filelight is the closest thing to WinDirStat I’ve found; it shows a graphical view of space consumption:

Screenshot of Filelight

Like ncdu, Filelight lets you select a given directory to get the breakdown for that directory

Answered By: Michael Mrozek

Another GUI program is: baobab

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Answered By: sudobash

Based on your issues in installing ncdu my recommendation would be to use du and sort on together.

For instance:

  • du /home | sort -rn (will search all files/directories under /home and sort them by largest to smallest.
  • du -h /home | sort -rh (same but will show it in MB/KB/etc) – Note this requires coreutils 7.5 or newer (sort --version to check)

You can replace /home with any directory of your choice.

Answered By: N J

There’s also this cool python script from /

bzr branch lp:~mcfletch/squaremap/trunk squaremap

It’s not the most feature rich, but it’s run from a single python script so it’s extremely portable.

alt text

Answered By: Falmarri

You should be aware that WinDirStat is actually a port of KDirStat, which is a Linux/KDE program. So, if you are looking for a Linux alternative to WinDirStat, you certainly should take a look at KDirStat. It is already packaged in most distros, just install it.

Another alternative is FileLight, already cited by Michael Mrozek, and the Konqueror plugin fsview (you can run it standalone from the command-line).

Answered By: Juliano

You could also try GD Map, another GUI tool based on treemaps.

Answered By: Bruno

I have recently used command line tool (CLI, not TUI):

It produces a PNG file which you can view somewhere else. It also has a CGI script.

Most likely you are not limited to text mode at your local workstation, so it should be appropriate.

Answered By: OCTAGRAM

If you looked at the about screen on windirstat it showed you that it’s based on kdirstat.

Answered By: DF1eCH

I prefer the following command line:

$  du -s -m -x * | sort -n

Breaking it down, du shows disk usage; -s says print the total for each argument (each item in the current directory), -m says show the size in Megabytes. This makes it easier for sort to work; sort doesn’t really understand the -h output. The -x ignores other filesystems; this is useful when trying to find space hogs in /var, and /var/spool/foo is a different filesystem.

Answered By: P Joslin

Also to see the files in a specific directory sorted by size after you have found the directory using du use:

ls -lrSh
Answered By: Wodin

Use QDirStat (formerly KDirStat).

It includes a perl script that generates a cache file on the server/console without any need for an UI to be running/installed; transfer it to your desktop machine and view it in the gui client.

See for details.

Answered By: icyerasor

xdiskusage is very flexible, lightweight with very lean dependencies, easy to compile..

It shows a tree left-to-right that you can navigate with mouse or arrow keys, zoom in (click or enter), hide some parts for a better view, change sort order, number of colors etc with keys or context menu.

It’s so lighweight that you can use it on a remote SSH link with good performance. In this case I recommend -q command line option to disable the progress bar that appears while files are walked.

You can also optionally run du yourself beforehand.

One situation is a remote filesystem which is full or near-full. On that system run du -ak | gzip >log_of_disk_usage.txt.gz, fetch the output and run gzip -dc log_of_disk_usage.txt.gz | xdiskusage -aq locally.
Or even ssh myremotesystem "cd /filesystem_near_full/ ; du -ak | gzip" > log_of_disk_usage.txt.gz to store the result locally without writing anything remotely.

xdiskusage does not offer to modify the filesystem (like move to trash, etc) but you can copy a path to clipboard and paste that into a file manager, terminal etc.

xdiskusage screenshot

Answered By: Stéphane Gourichon

Duc ( will work from the command line.

It can be installed and used like this in Debian 9:

# apt install duc
# duc index /
# duc graph /

With this you’ll get a file named duc.png in the current directory. Now, you can copy this file to another GUI capable computer and it will look like this:

NOTE: Duc is the replacement for the tool that @OCTAGRAM mentioned in his answer.

Answered By: Jaime Hablutzel

For btrfs filesystems, you may like my tool, btdu:

  • Starts showing results instantly
  • Shows snapshots / reflinks / cloned files correctly
  • Shows real (compressed) usage of compressed files
Answered By: Vladimir Panteleev
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