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I know this could sound like a silly question.

But I have always wondered what the free space on a Ubuntu partition should be!

With should be I mean how much do I need free to be able to run everything as smoothly as possible and get the best amount of speed form my computer.

  • Is it 10%? 10GB? or something else?
  • is it specific for this hard drive or only the Ubuntu partition?
  • Is it specific for "/home"? (if you have separate system and personal stuff.)
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closed as not constructive by fossfreedom Apr 14 '12 at 10:14

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Does this assume swap is on a separate partition? –  Nathan Osman Oct 1 '11 at 20:45
I discovered the hard way that when I'm watching streaming Flash movies, it fills up /tmp, which makes you wonder what Adobe thinks the word "streaming" means. (I'll note that Flash doesn't do this on Windows or Mac, however.) So if you're watching streaming Flash movies, you need lots and lots of free space in /tmp. –  Paul Tomblin Oct 1 '11 at 21:01
@Paul: On the other hand... that can be handy for saving flash videos. –  Nathan Osman Oct 1 '11 at 21:10
Windows gets severely affected by how much space is left on the drive, isn't that because of fragmentation i thought Linux didn't suffer from that? –  Uri Herrera Oct 1 '11 at 22:45
How does this discussion help? "this isn't a forum" –  Alvar Oct 2 '11 at 6:52
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1 Answer 1

Well. It varies...

First of all, on *IX all filesystems usually have a reserved space, accessible only to root; nowadays it is 5% of the filesystem size (by default), but can be larger or smaller. If you are running as the superuser, then there is no reserve.

So, whatever is your filesystem size, you can actually use up to (100 - reserved space).

There is no fixed response to your question: it depends on how you use the filesystem. For normal usage (i.e., a desktop/laptop with email, browser, music, videos), a probable safe bet is around 60-80%. If the disk contents is volatile -- meaning lots of changes, large files being created/deleted, etc -- then you can expect degradation as the filesystem gets filled up. Now... of old, a good initial bet was "be worried if it is 80% full"; but with the current crop of extremely large drives, it does not make a lot of sense anymore -- 20% free space off 1T is still 200G! -- and this is one of the reasons the reserved space is now only ~ 5%.

But... rule of thumb for generic use... I would say tops at 70%, then start considering an upgrade/additional drive ;-)

If, OTOH, you are just adding files one after the other, never (re)moving them, then you can safely use all space available with no impact.

And yes, there can be fragmentation, which can cause degradation on read/write times.

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This doesn't answer my question, please read it again. –  Alvar Oct 7 '11 at 16:40
"what the free space on a Ubuntu partition should be" -- "rule of thumb, 70% of used space, then consider adding more space". So, the other side is "at least 30% of free space". As I state above, YMMV, it depends on size of disk, size of minimal allocation, disk usage characteristics (number of files added/remove/changed per unit of time, average file size (and the additional stats), etc). So no hard answer. –  hggdh Oct 8 '11 at 22:13
And it applies to each partition separately, and it is not really specific for Ubuntu (was this piece that I forgot to mention?) –  hggdh Oct 8 '11 at 22:15
this isn't really true... –  Alvar Nov 3 '11 at 15:49
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