Explanation of "File system full" notification - Department of Computer Science - Purdue University Skip to main content

Explanation of "File system full" notification

Why did I get this message?

You received this notification because the UNIX file system (i.e. "Disk") is full or nearly full. This is a shared storage area. You are one of the users who is using space there.

What do the numbers mean?

The TOTAL column is the total number of 1K filesystem blocks of disk space you are using. A number of 235982 means you are using about 230MB. The numbered columns (30, 90, 180, 365) are the blocks of data that have not been accessed in 30 days, in 90 day, in 180 days, or in 365 days. The idea is that if the 90 column is almost as big as the TOTAL column, then you are not actually using most of the files in your directory.

Are these files I use on my PC?

These are not the files that are used for your "home directory" or main folder on your Windows desktop machine. However, you may access them as a share from the UNIX Samba server.

Where is this space?

It is accessible from your UNIX account. If the report is for /u/u12 and your login is doctorno, then the files are in /u/u12/doctorno. This may be your UNIX home directory.

What can I do about it?

You should try to locate the files in your space that are taking up the most space. You may already know what these are, or suspect. If you don't know, you can start by trying to find the largest folders

% cd  /u/u12/doctorno
% du  -sk  .??*  *  |  sort  -n

This will give you a list of the folders with the biggest at the end. The number in the left hand column will be the number of blocks used in the folder (and all sub-folders). The .??* pattern will get the "hidden" folders (names that start with a "."). Common "hidden" folders that take a lot of space are .android , .cache, and .config, but Linux developers are busy coming up with more.

Note: the .??* pattern will not match a hidden" folder with only a single letter name, like .a, but it will cover typical circumstances while avoiding matching .. (parent directory) which would cause problems.

Within each directory, you can get a listing of the files with

% ls  -sC1F  |  sort  -n

The number to the left of each entry is the number of blocks. Entries that have a "/" at the end of the name are subfolders. The largest will be at the end of the list. If you only want the top ten, you can add "| tail" at the end of the commands above.

You may find the command /homes/trinkle/bin/biggest helpful. It runs the du command and helps organize the output.

When you find large files you need to determine what to do about them. If they were temporary files that you don't need any more, just delete them. If they are old files that you want to keep, but never (or almost never) look at, they are probably good candidates for putting on a thumb drive.  If this is for research work with a CS professor, we can provide storage space on RCAC's Fortress storage system.

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2020 4:05 PM

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