Originally I had a 50GB disk where the root / was mounted to a 6 GB partition on it. The partition was running out of room so I created a second partition with the rest of the free space (44 GB). Here's what it looked like originally

xvda    202:0    0  50G  0 disk
└─xvda1 202:1    0   6G  0 part /

$ df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/xvda1      6.0G  6.0G   20K 100% /
devtmpfs         30G     0   30G   0% /dev
tmpfs            30G     0   30G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs            30G  121M   30G   1% /run
tmpfs            30G     0   30G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup

Within the root file system I had a directory /opt which used 3.4 GB of space and is where I am doing much of my work so /opt will continue to grow. After backing up all of my files, I mounted the second partition onto /opt

mount /dev/xvda2 /opt

After doing this, the new /opt is 0 GB and the partition 1 is still 6 GB with no way for me to access the 3.4 GB that was originally in /opt.

$ df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/xvda1      6.0G  6.0G   20K  100% /
devtmpfs         30G  6.1G   24G  21% /dev 
tmpfs            30G     0   30G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs            30G  129M   30G   1% /run
tmpfs            30G     0   30G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/xvda2       44G     0   44G   0% /opt

I have recovered the files from my backup but how can I delete the 3.4 GB that is not being used in partition 1? For future reference, what is the correct way to mount a new partition to a directory that is currently inside of another partition?

  • Just mount the new fs somewhere else than /opt temporarily so you can clean up (or just unmount it while you clean up).
    – Mat
    Nov 7, 2014 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


When you mount another filesystem on /opt, the previous content of /opt is inaccessible through that path, but it doesn't go away. On Linux, you can make it available by mounting it elsewhere, thanks to mount --bind.

mkdir /whole-root
mount --bind / /whole-root
mv /whole-root/opt/* /opt/
umount /whole-root

There is of course an alternate method: mount the new partition temporarily to an empty directory (/mnt is traditionally used for this purpose: a short-lived mount point), move the files, then unmount the new partition and mount it at its final location.

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