I tried to obtain the size of a directory (containing directories and sub directories) by using the ls command with option l. It seems to work for files (ls -l file name), but if I try to get the size of a directory (for instance, ls -l /home), I get only 4096 bytes, although altogether it is much bigger.

  • 34
    1) Strictly speaking, you can't. Linux has directories, not folders. 2) There's a difference between the size of a directory (which is a special file holding inodes that point to other files), and the size of the contents of that directory. As others have pointed out, the du command provides the latter, which is what it appears you want.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 18:27
  • 21
    as you seem to be new, I'll just point out the helpful -h option you can add to the -l option (i.e. ls -lh) to get the sizes of files to be printed out in human-friendly notation like 1.1M instead of 1130301. The "h" in the du -hs command that @sam gave as the answer for your question about directories also means "human-readable", and it also appears in df -h which shows the human readable amounts of used and free space on disk.
    – msouth
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 5:44
  • du -sh -- * works for me. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 10:55

16 Answers 16


du -sh file_path


  • du (disc usage) command estimates file_path space usage
  • The options -sh are (from man du):

      -s, --summarize
             display only a total for each argument
      -h, --human-readable
             print sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K 234M 2G)

    To check more than one directory and see the total, use du -sch:

      -c, --total
             produce a grand total
  • 69
    ...unless you have hardlinks ;-) stackoverflow.com/questions/19951883/…
    – Rmano
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 10:31
  • 4
    It works very nice with find e.g. to count the amount of space in specific subdirectories in current path: $ find . -type d -name "node_modules" -prune -exec du -sh {} \; Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 6:02
  • 1
    @Rmano is there a single command that works with hardlinks? Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 22:02
  • @CharlieParker no that I know of...
    – Rmano
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 10:51
  • I'm looking right now at a folder I just copied from an external drive. It contains four files (no hardlinks). du -ba $folder reports that each of these files is identical in size across the copied folders, but the total at the folder level does not match. du -bs, du -h, etc., same answer. (One folder size is six bytes more than the sum of the files; the other is ~10% larger.) I've seen this issue before comparing a folder on an external drive. Is there any unix command that will reliably report two folders containing identical files as being the same "size"?
    – Sasgorilla
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 20:15

Just use the du command:

du -sh -- *

will give you the cumulative disk usage of all non-hidden directories, files etc in the current directory in human-readable format.

You can use the df command to know the free space in the filesystem containing the directory:

df -h .
  • 9
    du -sh * starts throwing "unknown option" errors if any of the files in that dir begin with a dash. Safer to do du -sh -- *
    – mpen
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 23:07
  • 2
    du -sh * doesn't show memory usages of hidden folders Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 13:00
  • 10
    du -sh -- * .* to include dotfiles. This is useful to include a possibly large .git directory, for example. Alternatively in zsh you can setopt globdots to glob dotfiles by default.
    – cbarrick
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 3:13
  • 4
    What does the -- do? I know it applies to shell built-ins to end option arguments, but du is not a built-in, and I don't see this usage documented for du: linux.die.net/man/1/du
    – flow2k
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 5:16
  • 10
    (--) is used in most bash built-in commands and many other commands to signify the end of command options, after which only positional parameters are accepted. source Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 11:47

du is your friend. If you just want to know the total size of a directory then jump into it and run:

du -hs

If you also would like to know which sub-folders take up how much disk space?! You could extend this command to:

du -h --max-depth=1 | sort -hr

which will give you the size of all sub-folders (level 1). The output will be sorted (largest folder on top).

  • 1
    It seems on some (perhaps older?) versions of linux, sort does not have an h switch, and therefore the next best command I could find is: du -c --max-depth=1 | sort -rn Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 9:41
  • 2
    @richhallstoke if you use ncdu the files are sorted by descending size by default.
    – Armfoot
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 6:35
  • 2
    just wanted to note that on osx du appears to use -d instead of --max-depth Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 18:11
  • to avoid the line for current directory in the result, just add star (idea from Pacifist, above): du -h --max-depth=1 * | sort -h
    – honzajde
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 14:45

du can be complicated to use since you have to seemingly pass 100 arguments to get decent output. And figuring out the size of hidden folders is even tougher.

Make your life easy and use ncdu.


You get per folder summaries that are easily browsable.

  • 4
    checked out ncdu and would like to point out to others: when you're hunting for those files that are bloating some directory this utility is extremely useful as it displays size tapes/indicators which make the culprit(s) stand out. Overall this offers the right amount of interactivity which may be particularly useful in command-line only environments.
    – darbehdar
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 3:30

Others have mentioned du, but I would also like to mention Ncdu -- which is an ncurses version of du and provides interactivity: You can explore the directory hierarchy directly and see the sizes of subdirectories.


The du command shows the disk usage of the file.

The -h option shows results in human-readable form (e.g., 4k, 5M, 3G).

du -h (file name)

All of the above examples will tell you the size of the data on disk (i.e. the amount of disk space a particular file is using, which is usually larger than the actual file size). There are some situations where these will not give you an accurate report, if the data is not actually stored on this particular disk and only inode references exist.

In your example, you have used ls -l on a single file, which will have returned the file's actual size, NOT its size on disk.

If you want to know the actual file sizes, add the -b option to du.

du -csbh .
  • 1
    Yes. I'm using sdfs which compresses & dedups the files, so I couldn't figure out why it was reporting such low numbers. The actual size of the files with ls can be found by using: du -b Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 22:31
df -h .; du -sh -- * | sort -hr

This shows how much disk space you have left on the current drive and then tells you how much every file/directory takes up. e.g.,

Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdb2       206G  167G   29G  86% /
115M    node_modules
2.1M    examples
68K     src
4.0K    webpack.config.js
4.0K    README.md
4.0K    package.json
  • FYI, it seems to report the size-on-disk. i.e., it'll probably be padded to the nearest 4KB.
    – mpen
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 15:51

personally I think this is best, if you don't want to use ncdu

# du -sh ./*
  • Thank you! A command to see the size of just the direct children -- avoiding the huge wall of text that displays when you use the regular "recursive" version.
    – Venryx
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 16:48

In order to get the total size of files under a directory, you can select the type by find

  • For files only:
    find -type f -print0 | xargs -0 stat -c %s | awk '{total+=$1} END {printf("%.0f\n",total)}'
  • For everything but directories (files + symlinks + sockets + fifos + devices + ...):
    find -not -type d -print0 | xargs -0 stat -c %s | awk '{total+=$1} END {printf("%.0f\n",total)}'

Why not use du?

The du command is easier but it will count all types of files, and you don't have an option to change it. For example, assuming the current directory has a file, an empty dir and a symlink:

$ ls -AlF
total 8,192
-rw-r--r-- 1 nordic nordic    29 Mar 28 19:05 abc
drwxr-xr-x 2 nordic nordic 4,096 Mar 28 19:06 gogo/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 nordic nordic     3 Mar 28 19:06 s_gogo -> abc
$ find -type f -print0 | xargs -0 stat -c %s | awk '{total+=$1} END {printf("%.0f\n",total)}'
$ du -sb
8224    .
  • I would use -not -type d to sum not only sizes of ordinary files (-type f) but also sizes of symbolic links and so on.
    – anton_rh
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 11:08
  • This is great, because you don't get the overhead required to store the files, but only the size of the files themselves. Commented May 22, 2019 at 21:31
  • This command could output things like 2.6957e+09 Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 14:13
  • try printf("%.0f\n",total)
    – Leon Chang
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 16:21
  • @AdamTaylor Or show in MB: | awk '{total+=$1} END {printf("%.0f MB\n",total/1024/1024)}' Commented Feb 13 at 10:08

Here is a function for your .bash_aliases

# du with mount exclude and sort
function dusort () {
    DIR=$(echo $1 | sed 's#\/$##')
    du -scxh $(mount | awk '{print $3}' | sort | uniq \
     | sed 's#/# --  exclude=/#') $DIR/* | sort -h

sample output:

$ dusort /
0       /mnt  
0       /sbin
0       /srv
4,0K    /tmp
728K    /home
23M     /etc
169M    /boot  
528M    /root
1,4G    /usr
3,3G    /var
4,3G    /opt
9,6G    total

for subdirs:

$ dusort .
$ dusort /var/log/

I use this command as root:

sudo ls -1d */ | sudo xargs -I{} du {} -sh && sudo du -sh

One more variant:

du -h --max-dep=1

Note that du prints the space that a directory occupy on the media which is usually bigger than just the total size of all files in the directory, because du takes into account the size of all auxiliary information that is stored on the media to organize the directory in compliance with file system format.

If the file system is compressible, then du may output even smaller number than the total size of all files, because files may be internally compressed by the file system and so they take less space on the media than just uncompressed information they contain. Same if there are sparse files.

if there are hard links in the directory, then du may print smaller value as well because several different files in the directory refer the same data on the media.

To get the straightforward total size of all files in the directory, the following one-line shell expression can be used (assuming a GNU system):

find . ! -type d -print0 | xargs -r0 stat -c %s | paste -sd+ - | bc

or even shorter:

find . ! -type d -printf '%s\n' | paste -sd+ - | bc

It just sums sizes of all non-directory files in the directory (and its subdirectories recursively) one by one. Note that for symlinks, it reports the size of the symlink (not of the file the symlink points to).

  • Very nice! This also works for blobfuse2 file system. To see MBs instead of bytes, instead of directly piping to bc, I'm now piping it to awk '{print "(" $0 ")/1024/1024" }' | bc | awk '{ print $0 " MB" }' :) Commented Feb 13 at 9:53

You can use

du -sh directory/


du -sh filename

to know the space occupied by the folder or file.

df -h

will show the disk usage in human readable format -h does that.

There is also a gui based program called Disk Usage Analyzer.


Here is a POSIX script that will work with:

  • A file
  • Files
  • A directory
  • Directories
ls -A -R -g -o "$@" | awk '{n1 += $3} END {print n1}'

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