Recently I got a message about "0 bytes free" on a certain partition.

So I looked and, sure enough:

$ df
Filesystem     1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1       65190604  10920296  50959160  18% /
udev              966544         4    966540   1% /dev
tmpfs             389532       744    388788   1% /run
none                5120         0      5120   0% /run/lock
none              973828       152    973676   1% /run/shm
/dev/sda5      397327316 391010276         0 100% /media/8b5e40d0-95b3-4e60-831c-e9b9aeadbfa4

there are 0 bytes available on that partition.

So I deleted a bunch of files I didn't need on this machine, and emptied the trash. I expected the "Used" to get smaller and the "Available" to get larger by the same amount.

But what actually happened was

$ df
Filesystem     1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1       65190604  10921184  50958272  18% /
udev              966544         4    966540   1% /dev
tmpfs             389532       744    388788   1% /run
none                5120         0      5120   0% /run/lock
none              973828       152    973676   1% /run/shm
/dev/sda5      397327316 390986836         0 100% /media/8b5e40d0-95b3-4e60-831c-e9b9aeadbfa4

the "Used" actually did get smaller, but the "Available" is still zero.

I rebooted the machine, and I still see 0 in the "Available" column.

Why is "Available" always zero, even when I delete a bunch of files so "Used" gets smaller?

Why doesn't deleting files increase available space?

I am running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

$ df -hi
Filesystem     Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on
/dev/sda1        4.0M  512K  3.5M   13% /
udev             205K   486  204K    1% /dev
tmpfs            208K   390  208K    1% /run
none             208K     3  208K    1% /run/lock
none             208K     7  208K    1% /run/shm
/dev/sda5         25M  975K   24M    4% /media/8b5e40d0-95b3-4e60-831c-e9b9aeadbfa4
  • what kind of partition is that (ntfs, ext4, fat32) ? What do your Disk Utility says ? and did you try to clean it with Bleachbit (the Ccleaner for linux) or some other utility ?
    – riimzzai
    Mar 5, 2013 at 21:28
  • Neither of these answers resolved my issue. I'm running v13.10 and this is still a problem when deleting files from an SD card. Delete more files is NOT an acceptable answer so that's not even in the equation. Running the tune2f command and deleting the trash file are the only 2 answers being considered here and they both fail to resolve this issue.
    – user264679
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:05

3 Answers 3


Step by Step Tutorial

  1. Run sudo tune2fs -m 0 /dev/sda5 in a terminal, assuming /dev/sda5 is your drive.
  2. Enter your password (you won't see it as you type it).
  3. Check your space again, it should be free.

From man tune2fs:

-m reserved-blocks-percentage
  Set the percentage of the filesystem which may only be allocated by privileged
  processes. Reserving some number of filesystem blocks for use by privileged 
  processes  is done  to  avoid  filesystem fragmentation, and to allow system 
  daemons, such as syslogd(8), to continue to function correctly after non-privileged 
  processes are prevented from writing to the filesystem.  Normally, the default
  percentage of reserved blocks is 5%.
  • 1
    lsblk lists all drives along with their size
    – Nearoo
    Mar 31, 2020 at 7:25

The simple answer is delete more files. You are seeing the "reserved" blocks reclaiming themselves. Usualy 5% of a filesystem is reserved for privileged processes, is the filesystem is considered full when that limit is reached. You can adjust the limit with the tune2fs -m command. see the man pages for tune2fs for more info.


When you delete a file in a partition that isn't where Ubuntu is installed at, it makes a .Trashes/.Trashes-1000 folder which is the equivalent of recycle bin. The number can differ between Ubuntu versions. Once you are in the partition, press Ctrl+h to see the hidden files which are those that start with .. If you delete this file, then you actually have deleted all the files and you will have more space.

  • He said he emptied the trash, so this cannot be the cause. May 30, 2013 at 5:21
  • 1
    Had the same issue. Even though the person under reply 3 said that couldn't be the issue, because of the emptied trash. You're wrong. That was exactly my issue. From 50GB to 500GB free space.
    – user262604
    Mar 27, 2014 at 14:46
  • The other answers don't address the source of the issue, but this one does. Thanks.
    – Miladiouss
    Aug 15, 2018 at 3:52

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