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How can I view the size of a file or folder in Linux using SSH? - fixedByVonnie

How can I view the size of a file or folder in Linux using SSH?

Let’s say you’ve got a shiny new VPS from DigitalOcean and just installed CentOS 6.5 and you’re ready to rumble.

You’re eyes are wide, you’ve got adrenaline coursing through your veins but now you’re staring at a black screen with a blinking cursor and wondering about the file and directory sizes on your server.

Is there a quick and easy way to grab this information from the command line?

Yup! Here’s how:

I just installed WordPress on my DigitalOcean webserver but since I only have 20GB’s of space I need to make sure I watch my storage limits.

If I simply type ls from the command prompt it just lists all my files but doesn’t show anything about file sizes.

CentOS 6.5 ls command

Of course I could add the -l (that’s a dash lowercase L) qualifier to get the full file readout but there are two problems with this approach:

  • File sizes are displayed in bytes which are harder to read than KB or MB
  • It isn’t convenient to list all file sizes when you just have one specific file in mind

This is what the same command looks like with the -l qualifier: ls -l.

I’ve highlighted the file sizes column in calming cerulean blue.

CentOS 6.5 File sizes with ls -l

As you can see, the ls -l command is better but still not ideal.

Here’s a better way:

Viewing the file size of a single file

Let’s say I just want see the file size of one file: wp-signup.php.  I can type this:

du -h wp-signup.php

du -h command

If you have more than one file just smash it on the end of the list.

du -h wp-signup.php wp-login.php

Using du -h to view filesizes of multiple files

So what’s all this du business about?

The du command (Disk Usage) estimates file space usage for files and directories.  I added the -h option to display the file size in a human readable format.  In other words, -h forces du to prints pretty sizes like 1K instead of 1024.

Now, if you compare the du output of 28K for wp-signup.php to the ls -l result of 25665 you’ll see it’s just an approximation.  But this will suffice for most purposes.

Viewing directory sizes

If you want to view the file size of a complete directory including all the files and subdirectories inside, just use the -sh options.

For example, now I want to view the size of my www folder so I type the following:

du -sh www

du -sh to view folder size

There you go! You can see my folder is only 21MBs so I’m good.


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  • Cron Matic

    thank you for your time.

  • George Chalhoub

    Amazing article, finally! Thank you. Will bookmark this page.

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  • Ngoãn Trần

    $ ls -lh
    Getting the list of files and folder with sizes in human readable format.
    Hope it helpful.