Df Command on Linux with Examples

Df Command on Linux

The df (disk filesystem) command is an essential tool for monitoring disk space usage on Linux systems. It displays the amount of total, used, and available disk space on the file systems containing the given files or directories. Understanding df is critical for any Linux power user or system administrator to effectively manage storage and prevent out-of-disk situations.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the ins and outs of using the humble but powerful df command. We will explore the basic and advanced usage, tips and tricks, customization options, alternatives, and more through easy-to-follow examples. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Linux Filesystem

Before we dive into the df command, it’s essential to understand the Linux filesystem’s structure. Unlike other operating systems, Linux treats everything – from hardware devices to directories – as files. These files are organized in a hierarchical structure, starting from the root directory (/). This structure includes various subdirectories, such as /bin for binary files, /etc for configuration files, and /home for user directories.

Understanding this structure is vital when using the df command, as it displays the amount of disk space used and available on all mounted filesystems. The command retrieves this information from the /proc/mounts or /etc/mtab files, which contain a list of all currently mounted filesystems.

Deep Dive into the df Command

The basic syntax of the df command is straightforward: df [options] [file|directory]. By default, without any options or arguments, df displays the disk space usage of all mounted filesystems. The output includes the filesystem name, total space, used space, available space, percentage of space used, and the mount point of the filesystem.

Let’s break down a typical df output:

Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             10238440   3677816   5834240  38% /
tmpfs                  1024032         4   1024028   1% /dev/shm

This prints a table with the following columns by default:

  • Filesystem – The disk partition name
  • 1K-blocks – The total size of the file system in 1 KB blocks
  • Used – The amount of space allocated to existing files
  • Available – The unused space available for new files
  • Use% – The percentage of space currently allocated
  • Mounted on – The mount point where the file system is accessed

Using the df Command: Examples and Scenarios

The df command is versatile, with various options that allow you to customize its output. Here are some practical examples:

  • Basic usage: Simply typing df in the terminal will display the disk space usage of all mounted filesystems.
  • Human-readable format: The -h or --human-readable option displays the disk space in a more readable format (KB, MB, GB). For example, df -h.
  • Displaying the file system type: The -T or --print-type option shows the type of the filesystem. For example, df -T.
  • Excluding file systems: The -x or --exclude-type option allows you to exclude certain types of filesystems from the output. For example, df -x tmpfs excludes tmpfs filesystems.
  • Displaying inode information: The -i or --inodes option shows the inode usage instead of block usage. For example, df -i.
  • Customizing the output: The --output option allows you to customize the output by specifying which fields to display. For example, df --output=source,fstype,size,used,avail,pcent,target.
  • Monitoring usage on critical mount points: You can use df with specific directories to monitor disk usage on critical mount points. For example, df /home.

Advanced Usage of df Command

The df command can also be used in more advanced scenarios:

  • Sum of all used space: You can use the df command with the awk command to get the sum of all used space on all filesystems: df -k | awk '{sum+=$3} END {print sum}'.
  • Combining with other commands and tools: The df command can be used in conjunction with other commands and tools, such as du (disk usage) and ncdu (NCurses Disk Usage), to provide a more detailed analysis of disk space usage.

Best Practices for Disk Space Management in Linux

Effective disk space management in Linux involves more than just monitoring. Here are some best practices:

  • Regularly check disk usage: Use the df command regularly to monitor disk space usage and prevent potential issues.
  • Remove unnecessary files: Use commands like rm and tools like ncdu to identify and remove unnecessary files.
  • Analyze and delete large files: Use the find command to locate large files that are taking up significant space.
  • Compress archives: Use tools like gzip and tar to compress files and save disk space.
  • Manage log rotation: Use the logrotate utility to manage log files and prevent them from consuming too much space.
  • Utilize disk quotas: Implement disk quotas to limit the amount of disk space and inodes a user or group can use.


The df command is a powerful tool for managing disk space in Linux. With its various options and the ability to customize its output, it provides a flexible way to monitor and manage disk usage. By understanding and regularly using the df command, you can ensure efficient disk space management and maintain the health and performance of your Linux system.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
Back to top button