Using ‘ducks’ to solve VPS disk space issues
Most use cases for a VPS, like running a website, aren’t all that demanding when it comes to hard drive storage space, but there are some obvious exceptions—hosting audio/video media, backups, large-scale user databases, and more.
For those who might run into issues with hard drive space, keeping tabs on what’s using the most isn’t a bad idea. It just might give you some visibility into what you need to
rm before you hit the limit.
That’s when it’s time to bring in the “ducks.”
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df command (short for disk free) displays the amount of disk space available on every partition that your user has read access to. (You can also use the
-h argument to makes the output “human readable,” as in display file usage in KB, MB, and so on.)
$ df /dev/xyz 30828540 3006136 26249748 11% / devtmpfs 2097152 0 2097152 0% /dev tmpfs 2097152 4 2097148 1% /dev/shm tmpfs 2097152 58500 2038652 3% /run tmpfs 5120 0 5120 0% /run/lock tmpfs 2097152 0 2097152 0% /sys/fs/cgroup none 2097152 0 2097152 0% /run/shm
In contrast, the
du program (short for disk usage) estimates usage under a directory or file system that you specify. By default, it returns disk usage in KB.
du * 7831 some-file.tar.gz 23441 directoryA/subdirectoryY 183641 directoryA/subdirectoryZ 237189 directoryA/ 464 directoryB/ 226 directoryC/subdirectoryX 832 directoryC/subdirectoryY 483 directoryC/subdirectoryZ 1541 directoryC/
In most cases, the output will be far lengthier than this example. And that’s where you can bring in the the “ducks” to help you investigate a little further.
du -cks * 7831 some-file.tar.gz 237189 directoryA/ 464 directoryB/ 1541 directoryC/ 247026 total
-c argument displays the total usage,
-k sets the block size to 1024 bytes, and
-s displays a summary for only the current directory, and not any subdirectories.
Now it’s possible to more readily see that directoryA is the largest disk hog.
You can take
du -cks a little further by piping it into a few other commands, like
head. The following command will sort the results from largest to smallest, and reduce the output to only the 10 largest.
$ du -cks * |sort -rn |head -11
Some people like to take this a step further and create an alias for this command. You can drop the following in your .profile or .zshrc file.
alias ducks='du -cks * |sort -rn |head -11'