Clean disk space on Ubu
How To

5 Ways to Free up space on Ubuntu

Sagar Sharma
Sagar Sharma

Table of Contents

Linux servers are often given a small chunk of disk space and in most cases, it is sufficient. But over time, disk space gets consumed. You check the disk space and find yourself left with less than a GB or so.

The good thing is that you can employ a few tricks to free up space on Ubuntu. Do it regularly and you'll have a healthy system with decent free disk space.

In this guide, I will show you the following ways to free up space in Ubuntu:

  • Remove dependencies that are no longer required
  • Remove unnecessary utilities
  • Clear apt-cache
  • Remove older versions of snaps
  • Delete duplicate files

1. Remove unnecessary dependencies packages

When you install a tool in your system, in most cases, it heavily relies on some other packages but once you uninstall that package, those dependencies will still be there.

And in most cases, those dependencies will be in hundreds of MBs or even GBs.

You list the unnecessary dependencies with total size using:

sudo apt autoremove

In my case, the size is around 547 MB and to remove it, all you have to do is hit enter as it will trigger the default option and in this case, its Y.

💡
The apt autoremove command also deleted older Linux kernel versions that are not needed anymore.

2. Remove unnecessary packages

We often forget the packages that were installed and are no longer in use and will consume a large chunk of the disk.

Sure, you can use the apt-list, but it will list everything that came pre-installed too!

So in that case, you can use the apt-mark command in the following manner to list packages that were manually installed by the user:

apt-mark showmanual

I do understand that some of the shown packages are not installed by the user but it includes all the packages installed by the user and the pre-installed packages can be ignored easily.

From here, you can remove packages using the apt remove command:

sudo apt remove <package-name>

3. Clear systemd journal logs

The journal logs of the systemd contain various kinds of information such as logging data, log messages, standard input, output errors, and a lot more.

And over time, these logs can take a large amount of data. To check how much space is taken by systemd logs, you can use the following command:

journalctl --disk-usage

In my case, it was around 1.8GB:

sagar@Learnubuntu:~$ journalctl --disk-usage
Archived and active journals take up 1.8G in the file system.

I would recommend clearing logs older than 3 days using the following:

sudo journalctl --vacuum-time=3d

And that should do the job!

4. Remove previous versions of snap packages

In case you don't know, snap by default, keeps two previous versions as if something wrong happens, you can roll back to the previous version.

But snaps take up a lot of space! And when combined with the previous iterations, the number gets bigger.

To check how much space is occupied by the snaps, you can use the du command as shown:

du -h /var/lib/snapd/snaps

In my case, it was around 5 GB!!

To remove the previous versions, you can use the script developed by Alan Pope who himself is a part of the Snapcraft team at Canonical.

First, create and open a file named Free_snaps.sh using the following:

nano Free_snaps.sh

And paste the following:

#!/bin/bash
# Removes old revisions of snaps
# CLOSE ALL SNAPS BEFORE RUNNING THIS
set -eu
snap list --all | awk '/disabled/{print $1, $3}' |
    while read snapname revision; do
        snap remove "$snapname" --revision="$revision"
    done

Save changes and exit from the nano text editor.

Next, make the script executable using the chmod command:

chmod +x Free_snaps.sh

And finally, execute the script:

./Free_snaps.sh

When I checked again, it removed packages worth 2.5GB:

sagar@Learnubuntu:~$ du -h /var/lib/snapd/snaps
4.0K    /var/lib/snapd/snaps/partial
2.5G    /var/lib/snapd/snaps

5. Clear apt cache

🚧
I am not a fan of this method. Apt cache is useful for faster apt package installation. The cache will be using space again the next time you run the apt update command. Only if you are running out of disk space completely, go for this method.

Your package manager for Ubuntu (Apt) also stores cache to make your experience better.

But if left as it is, it may consume more storage space than your usual packages do.

And you can find the size of the cache using the following:

sudo du -sh /var/cache/apt

In my case, the size was around 500 MB and that's a huge number!

To clear the cache, all you have to do is use the following command:

sudo apt clean

6. Delete duplicate files

🚧
Be careful while deleting duplicate files. Files once deleted cannot be recovered again.

To delete duplicate files, I will be using a simple tool called fdupes. But it does not come pre-installed in Ubuntu and you'd have to use the following command for installation:

sudo apt install fdupes

Once done, you can use it in the following manner:

fdupes /path/to/folder

For example, here, I used it over the Text directory:

Find duplicate files in ubuntu

As you can see, there are 3 duplicate files.

Once you find out duplicate files, you can remove them using the rm command as shown:

rm Filename

Finally, check the disk space

Once you use shown methods, you can use the df command to check the disk space.

And here's detailed guide to use the df command in Ubuntu:

Check Disk Space in the Ubuntu Command Line
Wondering what’s the disk size? How much free space you have left? Learn about checking disk space in the Ubuntu command line.

I hope this guide has helped you to free the disk space.



Sagar Sharma

Sagar Sharma

A software engineer who loves to tinker with hardware till it gets crashed. While reviving my crashed system, you can find me reading literature, manga, or watering my plants.