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I misread this question and thought it was asking something I've needed for a long time. My question is slightly different: how to find directories whose contents exceed a certain size. Is there any *nix way to do this?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

find doesn't look at the cumulative size of subdirectories. Instead, use du with the -s option to tell it to print only the total size of each directory given on the command line:

du -s *|awk '{ if ($1 > 3000) print }'

will give you output like:

3124    foo
10025   bar

or, to print just the names:

du -s *|awk '{ if ($1 > 3000) print $2 }'
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Oh my, that is beautiful, thank you! – Dan Rosenstark Feb 26 '10 at 15:39

Does find . -type d -size +3k -print do what you are asking? Change the "3k" to whatever size you want, of course.

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@mpez0, I'm not sure. I'm trying it but I haven't decided how it's handling the subdirs yet. Ideally I'd like it to report only the top level directories whose recursive contents exceed the size. That way I can go down levels to investigate, or not. – Dan Rosenstark Feb 26 '10 at 14:09
Recursive content? If you're looking for the size of the content of the directories, use the "du" (disk usage) command. Find will be looking at the actual size of the directory file itself – mpez0 Feb 27 '10 at 18:25

A couple expansions on Peter Westlake's answer:

  • The --max-depth option can be used to limit the depth of subdirectories du will search. In the example below the search is to 2 levels.

  • You can use the -B option for du to set a block size for the du output. In the following example, the directory size is kilobytes (1000 bytes here). For now, you may be able to use the -k (kilobytes) and -m (megabytes) options, but man tells me they are deprecated, so I would recommend you avoid them. (Otherwise you'll be in the situation I may end up in - in the habit of using them and frustrated when they go away!)

    $ du --max-depth=2 -B 1000 | awk '{if($1>=5) print $0};'

One more point: If you want the output sorted by directory size, pipe it through sort -n, which will sort the output numerically (the -n) and default to using the first column (the directory size).

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+1 for sort -n :) – Dan Rosenstark Feb 26 '10 at 16:18

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