Reclaim WSL disk space back #wsl #ubuntu #windows

WSL2 made many things right but there are still rough edges. For example, WSL sometimes doesn’t reclaim the relieved disk space back to windows immediately. It needs some encouragement. This is annoying while dealing with large files in WSL, the space is not occupied for so long.

Best way I’ve found so far is this:

Let’s see what’s occupying the most space

This can be done in any linux system. I use ubuntu in my WSL so feel free to use it to save up space in your linux drives too.

Windirstat: Check what’s happening in your drive

One of the coolest windows tools i’ve ever used:

Use df and du

  • Check disk occupation size: df -h
  • Find Out Top 25 Directories and Files (Disk Space) in Linux
    • du -a --block-size=1G / | sort -n -r | head -n 25
  • This one is a little more advanced which is doing a bigger scan but I also don’t want actual windows files to be scanned so excluded /c/ or /mnt/c and/or any other drives.
    • sudo du -ch / --exclude=/mnt/c -a --block-size=1M | sort -n -r | head -n 25
  • Usually the culprit is /tmp file. Recommend deleting its contents every now and then.
  • Free up some space in WSL and make sure it went down with df -h. Otherwise compacting operation below won’t be much of a help.

Take the space back by compaction

Found this cool trick to compact the vhdx file which is the virtual disk for ubuntu WSL:

wsl --shutdown
# Or this method:
wsl -l  # Lists all your distros in WSL
# Shuts down the distro. Otherwise diskpart won't work since the drive is mounted.
wsl -t your_distro_name

# Open window Diskpart
select vdisk file="C:\Users\$user\AppData\Local\Packages\CanonicalGroupLimited\…\ext4.vhdx"
attach vdisk readonly
compact vdisk
detach vdisk

Enjoy your free space