Essential Utilities: Reclaiming Disk Space (GUI Tools)

Linux offers an unsurpassed breadth of open source small utilities that perform functions ranging from the mundane to the wonderful. These tools help make Linux a compelling operating system. This series of articles identifies indispensable open source utilities which make using Linux that bit more special.

LightbulbWhatever the size of the hard disk, our disks always fill up over time; it seems data expands to fill any void. This is partly because we experiment with lots of distributions and software. But hard disks do seem to fill up by themselves. Whether you use SSDs or mechanical hard disk drives, you cannot afford to be rash with storage. When a hard disk is full, it can be very time consuming to sort out and remove offending files and directories.

Linux distributions come supplied with utilities to explore disk usage. For example, du is a popular tool used to estimate file space usage; space being used under a particular directory or files on a file system.

du shows directories which are taking up space. And you can combine du with other command-line utilities such as grep and sort to make the output more meaningful. But if you want a more visual experience, step forward the graphical utilities designed to make tracking down wasted disk space effortless.

The utilities featured in this article help to simplify the process by scanning your drive and producing interactive maps that shows each file as a colored rectangle that’s proportional to the size of the file. And this software can distinguish between large collections of data which are still in use and ones which have not been accessed for a long time. The latter may be image files or large archives downloaded, unpacked, used once, and never cleaned up.

If you find yourself running low on space, these effective graphical tools will save both time and effort in reclaiming disk space.

Here’s our verdict on the software. Please note that the rating reflects the software’s capabilities regarding disk usage only. Krusader doesn’t score that highly, but it’s an excellent file manager.

Ratings chart for GUI tools

Let’s explore the 7 tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.

Disk Usage Utilities
QDirStatExcellent Qt-based directory statistics
FilelightCreates an interactive map to visualise disk usage
BaobabAlso known as Disk Usage Analyse
ageduUtility for tracking down wasted disk space
SquirrelDiskBills itself as "the easiest app you will ever use to detect huge files"
KrusaderFile manager with built-in disk usage functionality
xdiskusageLight and frugal utility
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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