28: No space left on device error

Posted January 2, 2020 2.2k views
Linux BasicsDigitalOceanConfiguration ManagementLet's Encrypt

I was trying to renew my SSL certificate on my droplet by following this guide:

But for some reason I kept getting 28: No space left on device when I run apt-get update. I tried to solve this by trying apt-get clean, which seemed to work for a little bit but then still had the same issue.

I tried to remove files under /tmp/ and /var/log/ and started getting this error: Couldn't create temporary file /tmp/apt.conf.vDUIgg for passing config to apt-key when I run apt-get update. When I tried to follow this ( but keep getting the same error. I’m running out of ideas on how to troubleshoot this, please help :’(

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1 answer


I would recommend starting with the following:

  • First check how much space you have available and which partition is filling up with the following command:
df -h

The output would look something like this:

Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            2.0G     0  2.0G   0% /dev
tmpfs           395M  1.8M  393M   1% /run
/dev/vda1        25G   20G  4.4G  82% /

In my case I am using 20G out of 25GB available for my root partition. Basically the df command reports the file system disk space usage.

  • Also if you have enough space, make sure to check your Inode usage:
df -i
  • Then depending on the partition which is filling up you could use the following command to find any files that are larger than 500MB for example:
sudo find / -type f -size +500M -exec ls -lh {} \;

The output should look something like:

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1.8G May 13 15:43 /home/user1/large-file.txt
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1.8G May 13 15:42 /home/bobby/large-file.txt
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1.8G May 13 15:43 /home/bobby/public_html/wp-content/core.dump
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1.8G May 13 15:42 /home/bobby/public_html/error_log

Depending on the size of your disk, the command might take a while to complete. You can then go ahead and delete any of the large files that you do not need.

  • If there are no large files maybe there are a lot of small files which are exhausting the available webspace, what you could do is use the du command which estimates the file space usage:
du -h --max-depth=1 /

For example:

root@bobby:~$ cd /home/
root@bobby:/home$ du -h --max-depth=1
16K ./testuser
28K ./user
16K ./root
1.8G ./user2
5.0G ./bobby
7.1G .

Then we can cd into the largest folder and run the command again:

root@bobby:/home$ cd bobby/
root@bobby:/home/bobby$ du -h --max-depth=1
76K ./.npm
4.0K ./script
5.0G ./public_html
12K ./.ssh
5.0G .

We would need to do that a few more times until we get to the folder that is using those 5GB:

root@bobby:/home/bobby$ cd public_html/
root@bobby:/home/bobby/public_html$ du -h --max-depth=1
8.0K ./test
4.9G ./wp-content
4.0K ./
14M ./wp-includes
7.4M ./wp-admin
16K ./node
5.0G .

Then one more time:

root@bobby:/home/bobby/public_html$ cd wp-content/
root@bobby:/home/bobby/public_html/wp-content$ du -h --max-depth=1
3.6M ./themes
252K ./plugins
4.0K ./upgrade
4.9G ./large-folder
4.9G .

And again:

root@bobby:/home/bobby/public_html/wp-content/large-folder$ du -h --max-depth=1
4.9G .

We’ve found the folder! We can see how many files are in the folder by running this command:

root@bobby:/home/bobby/public_html/wp-content/large-folder$ ls -lah | wc -l

If you are unable to clear any disk space I would recommend upgrading your Droplet.

Let me know if you have any questions!


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