Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

As I’ve covered, du and df are great tools for isolating disk utilization, both for HFS+ and for Xsan. When dealing with end users though, it sometimes helps to show them information graphically. Another tool I’ve covered (although not comprehensively) is Disk Inventory X. A connection I had never tried to make until recently is using Disk Inventory X to find the “big fish” in terms of volume utilization with Xsan. When you fire up Disk Inventory X it will ask you to select a volume, or you can click on the Select Folder: button to browse to a folder. Disk Inventory X will then catalog the contents and show you a graphical representation of how files on your volume are using up your capacity.

What I’m finding is that when you sit people down in front of a SAN that is, let’s say, 95% full, that it’s hard to fathom, just looking at the Finder or at a du screen, what they can remove versus what they should keep. Therefore, if you come to them with a graphical representation of how the file system is currently being utilized, they can see the files that are huge (aka the “big fish”) and determine if there is a real business value in keeping them. This is actually more true with Xsan than with most other file systems. The reason is that you have less total files on most Xsan volumes whereas those single files are usually substantial in size. So if there are 2 year old 1080p clips that haven’t been touched, taking up tons of space – well, it’s pretty easy to isolate that.

Disk Inventory X also has another aspect that makes it easy to fix these space issues. Let’s say that you see 20 files, each about 10 Gigabytes. And let’s say that you have determined that you can just remove them. Using Disk Inventory X you can click on each one and then use the Command-Delete keystroke to remove them. Disk Inventory X will then automatically adjust the graphical representation to show you the new layout; albeit until you empty the trash you’ll see the files there…

Another tool that I’ve been tinkering around with is the open source package TreePie, available on SourceForge. TreePie can show very similar data, if you only have StorNext Windows systems to view it from.

April 2nd, 2009

Posted In: Mac OS X, Xsan

Tags: , , ,

  • Jean-Christophe

    Jdisk Report ( is also a good free solution to graphically visualize file size distribution, top 10 biggest files, top 10 aged files…
    Jdisk Report exist for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.