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I have an old FreeBSD (5.3) server and I need to clear space from /var but I cannot seem to find what is taking up all the space. I have 6.8G of total space but I cannot seem to see that much data being used. Below are the details from df and du which does not appear to be consistent. I will start using find to look for large files, but that will obviously take a good deal of time. I would like to understand why the results shown below do not appear to match.

I have this response from df -kh:

Filesystem     Size    Used   Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ad0s1a    2.9G    1.5G    1.2G    56%    /
devfs          1.0K    1.0K      0B   100%    /dev
/dev/ad0s1g     15G     13G    406M    97%    /home
/dev/ad0s1e    248M    202M     26M    89%    /tmp
/dev/ad0s1f    9.7G    3.9G    5.0G    44%    /usr
/dev/ad0s1d    6.8G    6.3G    -35M   101%    /var
devfs          1.0K    1.0K      0B   100%    /var/named/dev

I want to clear out space on /var so I go run du -ksh /var/*:

2.0K    /var/account
6.0K    /var/at
 26K    /var/backups
4.0K    /var/crash
8.0K    /var/cron
 10M    /var/db
4.0K    /var/dump
2.0K    /var/empty
2.0K    /var/games
2.0K    /var/heimdal
8.7M    /var/home
670K    /var/imap
 15M    /var/imap.archive
8.0K    /var/jabberd
524K    /var/lib
  0B    /var/log
  0B    /var/mail
4.0K    /var/msgs
171K    /var/named
2.0K    /var/preserve
 38K    /var/run
2.0K    /var/rwho
542K    /var/spool
4.0K    /var/state
2.1M    /var/tmp
 20K    /var/yp

So it does not add up. Perhaps I have some symlinks which are hiding files. How would I find and clear out space

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A bit of a long shot but maybe your /var is overdue for an fsck? – LawrenceC Jun 9 '12 at 19:02
@ultrasawblade I will give that a try. Thanks for the idea. – Brennan Stehling Jun 9 '12 at 19:03
@ultrasawblade No luck so far. – Brennan Stehling Jun 9 '12 at 19:30
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Reboot into single-user mode and check again. If a running process is holding open a file descriptor to a large file, then even if that file has been deleted, it still takes up space on disk -- but you'll never find that file in any directory.

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