How to sort the output of the du -h command by size?

When troubleshooting any disk space problems on a server or just trying to find the largest directories, the du command is essential!

You can use the du command which estimates the directory space usage.

For example, let’s say that we want to check the size of the directories located in the /home directory. To do that let’s first cd into the /home folder:

  1. cd /home/

And then run the du command:

  1. du -h --max-depth=1
[secondary_label Output]
16K ./demo
5.0G ./bobby
28K ./sammy
1.8G ./dev
7.1G .

I like running the du command with the --max-depth=1 argument which only shows the size of the folders located inside the current directory and not the subfolders.

As you can see from the output the size is not sorted by size, here is how to do that!

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Bobby Iliev
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December 10, 2020
Accepted Answer

What you could usually do in order to sort values in Linux is to use the sort command.

However, if you pipe the output of the du -h command directly into sort, it will not take into consideration the human-readable size format.

Lukily sort comes with a -h argument as well which would take the human-readable format into consideration and will compare the human-readable numbers.

So the full command would look like this:

  1. du -h --max-depth=1 | sort -h

For more information you can take a look at the official documentation here:

Hope that this helps! Regards, Bobby

Site Moderator
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October 12, 2023


There is also a ncurses interface for du, appropriately called ncdu, that you can install:

  1. sudo apt install ncdu

This will graphically represent your disk usage:

  1. ncdu
Output--- /root ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    8.0KiB [##########] /.ssh
    4.0KiB [#####     ] /.cache
    4.0KiB [#####     ]  .bashrc
    4.0KiB [#####     ]  .profile
    4.0KiB [#####     ]  .bash_history

You can step through the filesystem by using the up and down arrows and pressing Enter on any directory entry.

Hope that this helps!

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