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How can I clean up my locker and get below my quota?

When you're having trouble being over or near quota, the following things may be of help to you.


The helpquota program in the consult locker will try to help you figure out what is using up your quota, and will look at many of the things described below. It will also offer you the option of compressing files or directories that you want to keep. To run it, type:

joeuser@athena:~$ add consult
joeuser@athena:~$ helpquota


It's a menu-driven program that should be fairly easy to use. The most commonly used features of helpquota are:

  • Listing the largest files in a particular directory
  • Listing the largest files anywhere in your locker
  • Listing files that are generally considered expungeable

Note that helpquota can also be used on lockers other than your home directory by specifying the locker name on the command line:

joeuser@athena:~$ add consult
joeuser@athena:~$ helpquota lockername

Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for lockername.

Other tips

  • If you have been using "delete" to mark files for deletion, run "purge" to really remove them.
  • Determine what's taking up the most space in your account. While helpquota can do this, you can also use the following command, which will list all the files and directories in the directory that you're in, sorted by their total size. (Run this in your root home directory first, then in subdirectories if you need to)
joeuser@athena:~$ du -sk * .??* | sort -nr | more

  • Compress large files. There are a number of options available on athena for compression; two are described below.
If you are over quota, you will be unable to create the compressed file in your account; in this case, you should either do the compressing in a local directory such as /var/tmp, or get under quota by deleting unneeded files first.
    • The gzip command, in the sipb and gnu lockers, has a good compression rate. The following command:
      joeuser@athena:~$ gzip -9 filename
      Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for filename.
      will create filename.gz and remove filename. You can uncompress a .gz file using the "gunzip" command.
    • The zip command can create recursive zip archives of files and directories, and can also be unzipped by the built-in unzip functions of MacOS and Windows XP.
      joeuser@athena:~$ zip zipfile filename
      Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for zipfile and filename.
      will create from filename, and
      joeuser@athena:~$ zip -r zipfile directoryname
      Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for zipfie and directoryname.
      will create containing all the contents of directoryname. Note that zip does not delete the old file; you must do that yourself.
  • Consider particularly removing files of the following types, as they are frequently unneeded.
file~ Any file that ends in a tilde ('~') is usually an older version of the file named "file", automatically saved by Emacs
#file Any file that begins with a hash mark ('#'). These are files that are marked for deletion, and used to be removed by the system automatically under NFS. You should delete them yourself.
core This file may have been created when you were running a program that failed with the message "Segmentation fault (core dumped)" or "Bus Error (core dumped)". Core files are useful for finding out what caused the program to fail, but little else. They can be safely deleted.
These files are generated by LaTeX; if you have the .tex file you can always recreate the .dvi file by latex'ing it again.
file.o These are object files that you get when compiling C or Fortran programs. You can regenerate them by recompiling your programs, and so they can be safely deleted.
~/Mail/mhshowXXXXXXX This sort of file is created by "show" when it is trying to display a MIME document. Most of the time, it cleans up the files afterwards, but sometimes it leaves them around. They can be deleted.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

February 09, 2009

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