How To Get Size of Directory/Folder In Linux?

Directories or folders can contain multiple files and directories. These multiple files and directories use some disk space and have a size. But when we list the files and directories we see that the directory size is listed as 4096 bytes or 4KB. This is the directory standard size which does not contain the files and directories sizes. So how can get the size of the directory or folder with its contents?

Get Size of Directory with du Command

The du command is used to get disk usage for files and directories. The du name comes from the term “disk usage“. The du command provides a lot of features for different cases. By default, the du command lists all files and directories sizes in a recursive manner. This creates a lot of output because of the recursive behavior.

$ du
Get Size of Directory with du Command

The output displays the directories as bytes for example the update-manage-core directory is 24 bytes.

Get Current Working Directory Size

The current working directory size can be displayed with the du command adding -s and -h options. By default, the du command lists all files and directories sizes recursively. But the -s option is used to show the total or summary size of the current working directory.

$ du -sh

The output is like below where the point is used to specify the current working directory. In this example, the current working directory size is 185 MB.

185M    .

Alternatively, all files and directories sizes of the current working directory can be listed by using the glob operator like below.

$ du -sh *

The output is like below.

4,0K    data1
 4,0K    data2
 4,0K    data3
 4,0K    data4
 4,0K    data5
 4,0K    Desktop
 4,0K    Documents
 4,0K    Downloads
 0    file1
 0    file2
 0    file3
 0    file4
 4,0K    Music
 0    myfile
 4,0K    myfolder
 0    mylink
 4,0K    names.txt
 0    newfile
 11M    nmap-7.91.tar.bz2
 452K    Pictures
 4,0K    Public
 4,0K    read_line_by_line.sh
 4,0K    sample.txt
 20K    Templates
 4,0K    test
 0    text.txt
 4,0K    thinclient_drives
 4,0K    userinput.py
 4,0K    Videos
 8,0K    year

Get Specified Directory Size

A specific directory or path can be specified in order to get its size. Just provide the path to the du command. In the following example, we will get the size of the home directory of the user ismail .

$ du -csh /home/ismail

The output is like below.

185M    /home/ismail
185M    total

Get Specific Level Directory Size

By default, the du command works as recursive and lists and adds all sub files and folders size for the specified directory. But the –max-depth option can be used to specify the level of the directories we want to list. For example –max-depth=1 is used to list first-level sizes for the directories.

$ du -h --max-depth=1 /home/ismail

The output is like below.

91M    /home/ismail/.cache
 452K    /home/ismail/Pictures
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data2
 31M    /home/ismail/.mozilla
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data4
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Desktop
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Videos
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Downloads
 7,1M    /home/ismail/.oh-my-zsh
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data5
 4,0K    /home/ismail/thinclient_drives
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Documents
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data1
 348K    /home/ismail/.config
 20K    /home/ismail/.ssh
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Music
 46M    /home/ismail/.local
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data3
 20K    /home/ismail/Templates
 16K    /home/ismail/.gnupg
 8,0K    /home/ismail/year
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Public
 4,0K    /home/ismail/myfolder
 185M    /home/ismail

Sort Directories According To Their Sizes

Another popular use case for the directory sizes is sorting directories according to their sizes. By default directories and sizes are listed according to their name alphabetically. but we can use the sort command in order to sort directories according to their sizes.

$ du -ch /home/ismail/* | sort -rh

The output is like below.

11M    total
 11M    /home/ismail/nmap-7.91.tar.bz2
 452K    /home/ismail/Pictures
 20K    /home/ismail/Templates
 8,0K    /home/ismail/year
 4,0K    /home/ismail/year/2020
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Videos
 4,0K    /home/ismail/userinput.py
 4,0K    /home/ismail/thinclient_drives
 4,0K    /home/ismail/test
 4,0K    /home/ismail/sample.txt
 4,0K    /home/ismail/read_line_by_line.sh
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Public
 4,0K    /home/ismail/names.txt
 4,0K    /home/ismail/myfolder
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Music
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Downloads
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Documents
 4,0K    /home/ismail/Desktop
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data5
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data4
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data3
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data2
 4,0K    /home/ismail/data1
 0    /home/ismail/text.txt
 0    /home/ismail/newfile
 0    /home/ismail/mylink
 0    /home/ismail/myfile
 0    /home/ismail/file4
 0    /home/ismail/file3
 0    /home/ismail/file2
 0    /home/ismail/file1

du: cannot read directory ‘…’: Permission denied Error

While working with the du command we may get the “du: cannot read directory ‘…’: Permission denied” error. This error cause is the current user permissions are not enough to read the provided directory. These directories are generally owned by the root or alternatively root or sudo users can read these directories. So simply providing the sudo command solves this error.

du: cannot read directory '/var/lib/sss/keytabs': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/lib/sss/secrets': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/lib/mysql-keyring': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/log/private': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/log/gdm3': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/log/sssd': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/log/speech-dispatcher': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/spool/cron/crontabs': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/spool/rsyslog': Permission denied
du: cannot read directory '/var/spool/cups': Permission denied
3,4G    total
1,7G    /var/log
1,4G    /var/lib
345M    /var/cache
5,2M    /var/backups
1,4M    /var/snap
48K    /var/spool

Solve this error with the sudo command like below.

sudo du -csh /var/* | sort -rh

Get Size of Directory with ncdu Command

Most of the Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Mint, RHEL, etc provides the ncdu command. It can be installed like below.

See also  Delete/Remove File In Linux

Install ncdu for Debian, Mint, Ubuntu, Kali:

$ sudo apt install ncdu

Install ncdu for RHEL, CentOS, Fedora:

$ sudo dnf install ncdu

Just run the ncdu command like below which lists the current working directory content and their sizes.

$ ncdu

Get Size of Directory with File Manager (GUI)

File Managers are GUI tools to manage files and directories. The file manager can be also used to get a directory size. First, open the file manager and right-click on the directory you want to get the size. Select the Properties below.

Get Size of Directory with File Manager (GUI)

The following directory properties screen provides information about the directory. The size of the directory is also listed in the Contents line where the contents count and the total size of the directory are listed.

Directory Sizes

We can see that a lot of information about the Pictures directory is provided. The Size of the directory is 453,9 kB or kilobyte.

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