How to find the size of a directory in Linux

It is very easy to check the size of directories and files in Linux using the GUI, but it is not always easy to get the size of a directory using the command line.

The ls command can be used to list the contents of a directory, but it does not display the exact directory size and always shows each directory size as 4096 bytes (4 KB), which is the size of space on the disk that is used to store the meta-information for the directory, not what it contains

You can get the actual size of a directory using the du command (Disk Usage), which is widely used by Linux administrators, but you can explore other commands for this purpose. Let’s explore them.

This guide shows you how to find the size of a specific directory in Linux using these three commands below:

  • du command
  • ncdu command
  • tree command

Method-1: Get the size of a directory in Linux with du command

The du command refers to disk usage. It is a standard Unix program that is used to estimate disk space usage in the present working directory when no path is specified.

It recursively summarizes the disk usage to obtain a directory and its sub-directory sizes.

Use the below du command format to get the total size of each directory, including sub-directories.

$ du -hc /home/daygeek/Documents/ | sort -rh | head -20

20G	total
20G	/home/daygeek/Documents/
9.6G	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek
6.3G	/home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos
5.3G	/home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos/Camera
5.3G	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-videos
3.2G	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-mageshm
2.3G	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-Photos
2.2G	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-photos-by-month
916M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-mageshm/Tanisha
454M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-mageshm/2g-backup
415M	/home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos/WhatsApp Video
300M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-photos-by-month/Jan-2017
288M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-photos-by-month/Oct-2017
226M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-photos-by-month/Sep-2017
219M	/home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos/WhatsApp Documents
213M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-mageshm/photos
163M	/home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos/WhatsApp Video/Sent
161M	/home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos/WhatsApp Images
154M	/home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek/Thanu-photos-by-month/June-2017

The above command will print the size of each file and the actual size of each directory, including their sub-directory as well as the total size.

Details:

  • du: It’s a command
  • -h: Print sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K, 234M, 2G)
  • -c: Produce a grand total
  • /home/daygeek/Documents/: The path of directory
  • sort -rh: Sort the results with numerical value
  • head -20: Output the first 20 lines result

Use the following du command format to get the total size of a specific directory:

$ du -hs /home/daygeek/Documents
or
$ du -h --max-depth=0 /home/daygeek/Documents/

20G    /home/daygeek/Documents

If you want to find out the size of the first-level sub-directories, including their sub-directories, for a given directory on Linux, use the following du command format:

$ du -h --max-depth=1 /home/daygeek/Documents/

3.2G    /home/daygeek/Documents/drive-mageshm
4.0K    /home/daygeek/Documents/daygeek
756K    /home/daygeek/Documents/Bank_Details
9.6G    /home/daygeek/Documents/drive-2daygeek
6.3G    /home/daygeek/Documents/Thanu_Photos
20G    /home/daygeek/Documents/

Method-2: Find the size of a directory in Linux with ncdu command

The ncdu (NCurses Disk Usage) is a curses-based version of the well-known ‘du’ command, and provides a fast way to see which directories are consuming your disk space.

The ncdu command scans the given directory and displays their files and folder sizes recursively as shown below:

$ ncdu /home/daygeek/Documents/

ncdu 1.14.1 ~ Use the arrow keys to navigate, press ? for help                                       
--- /home/daygeek/Documents -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    9.6 GiB [##########] /drive-2daygeek                                                             
    6.3 GiB [######    ] /Thanu_Photos
    3.2 GiB [###       ] /drive-mageshm
  756.0 KiB [          ] /Bank_Details
  272.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-TouchInterface1.png
  172.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-NightLight.png
  164.0 KiB [          ]  ConfigServer Security and Firewall (csf) Cheat Sheet.pdf
  132.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-Todo.png
  112.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-ZorinAutoTheme.png
   96.0 KiB [          ]  distro-info.xlsx
   92.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-ZorinConnect.png
   88.0 KiB [          ]  disco-duro-png-3.png
   72.0 KiB [          ]  distro-info-v1.xlsx
   44.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-DoNotDisturb.png
   36.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-NightLight.jpg
   36.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-TouchInterface1.jpg
   28.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-Todo.jpg
   24.0 KiB [          ]  user-friendly-zorin-os-15-has-been-released-ZorinAutoTheme.jpg
   16.0 KiB [          ]  multiple ways to check the hostname in linux.txt
   16.0 KiB [          ]  ConfigServer Security and Firewall (csf) Cheat Sheet.ods
   16.0 KiB [          ]  How to Understand Linux Top Command Output and Usage.ods
   12.0 KiB [          ]  pure-ftpd.png

Total disk usage:  19.0 GiB  Apparent size:  19.0 GiB  Items: 6104

Method-3: Check a directory size in Linux with tree command

The pstree command displays directory contents recursively in a tree-like format, which is very convenient way to display the directory hierarchy and that improves the readability of the output.

$ tree --du -h /opt/ktube-media-downloader

/opt/ktube-media-downloader
├── [830K]  ktube-media-downloader
├── [ 246]  ktube-media-downloader.desktop
├── [2.2M]  lnav_0.8.1_amd64.deb
└── [ 45M]  WgetInterface
    ├── [ 71K]  libwgetinterface.a
    └── [ 45M]  vivaldi-stable_1.7.735.46-1_amd64.deb

  49M used in 1 directory, 5 files

As you can see, the tree command output is straight forward compared to the du & ncdu commands.

Conclusion

You have learnt the three different commands to find the size of a directory in Linux.

If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Happy learning!

About Magesh Maruthamuthu

Love to play with all Linux distribution

View all posts by Magesh Maruthamuthu