du command tutorial in linux/unix with examples and use cases

Linux du command – estimate file space usage

Linux du command recursively summarizes the disk usage of a file or directory.


 du [OPTION]... [FILE]...


  • -0, –null
    end each output line with NUL, not newline
  • -a, –all
        write counts for all files, not just directories
  • -B, –block-size=SIZE
        scale sizes by SIZE before printing them; e.g., ‘-BM’ prints sizes in units of 1,048,576 bytes; see SIZE format below
  • -b, –bytes
        equivalent to ‘–apparent-size –block-size=1’
  • -c, –total
        produce a grand total
  • -D, –dereference-args
        dereference only symlinks that are listed on the command line
  • -d, –max-depth=N
        print the total for a directory (or file, with –all) only  if  it  is  N  or  fewer  levels  below  the  command  line  argument;
    –max-depth=0 is the same as –summarize
  • -H
        equivalent to –dereference-args (-D)
  • -h, –human-readable
        print sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K 234M 2G)
  • –inodes
        list inode usage information instead of block usage
  • -k
        like –block-size=1K
  • -L, –dereference
         dereference all symbolic links
  • -l, –count-links
        count sizes many times if hard linked
  • -m
        like –block-size=1M
  • -P, –no-dereference
        don’t follow any symbolic links (this is the default)
  • -S, –separate-dirs
        for directories do not include size of subdirectories
  • –si
      like -h, but use powers of 1000 not 1024
  • -s, –summarize
        display only a total for each argument
  • -t, –threshold=SIZE
          exclude entries smaller than SIZE if positive, or entries greater than SIZE if negative
  • -X, –exclude-from=FILE
          exclude files that match any pattern in FILE
  • –exclude=PATTERN
          exclude files that match PATTERN
  • -x, –one-file-system
        skip directories on different file systems

Examples & Use Cases

Show the space used by a directory or file

In the following example, we use the du -aBK option to display the disk space used by all directories and files in the current directory.

 ➜  du -aBK

Show file disk space usage

In the following example, we use the df -sh option to display disk space usage of a single file.

➜  du -sh install.sh

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