Fix Quota Problem on Student Lab Account


If you are close to your allocated quota, you may be receiving a "disk quota exceeded" warning when trying to save files on your lab account.  If you are over your allocated quota, you will not be be able to log into lab machines even through you are able to access other student applications such as email and Canvas. 

Some file systems support "soft" quotas. When you go over the soft quota, you are given a warning, but the operation still finishes writing properly. If your usage remains above the soft quota for too long, the grace period time limit will expire and your account will not be able to store files properly.


Quotas are limits on individual file storage, designed to ensure that sufficient resources remain available to everyone. Every location where you can store files may have a separate size limit. Most quota problems on student lab accounts are caused by an abundance of large files (e.g. old course assignments, large projects) or too many files (e.g. many web browser cache files).


Check quota

Use a program such as SSH to login to your account to run Unix commands. Enter the "quota" command at prompt - this will show how much of your quotas you have used.

quota -v

Image of the quota -v command being used to check quota on ieng6.

If you want to know which filesystem your home directory is on, enter the "pwd" command.


This will output your quota in a series of columns. Your storage you are currently using is displayed in the "blocks" column, with the storage quota being listed as the first "quota" immediately after. There additionally will be a "files" column, which shows the number of individual files you have. This is limited by a separate number of files quota shown in the next "quota" column.

If you see that the quota and the limit are the same, then this filesystem does not support the "soft" quota feature that gives you warnings before you actually hit the hard limit.

Find and remove expendable files

Use the "du -sh" command to obtain a report of the space used in a specific directory

du -sh <directory name>

If you are familiar with shell job control commands you can suspend the VI session, remove files to make space, resume the VI session and save your work.

Common expendable files

Some programs will create files which take up unnecessary space in your quota. For example, /.config/google-chrome created by Google Chrome, /.vscode-server created by Visual Studio Code, and /.cache. These files can be removed if they are occupying unnecessary space. 

Remove files

Remember that the directory must be empty for the rmdir command to work

rm <file name>
rmdir <directory name>

If you would like more options, enter into the prompt:

man rm

If you still have questions or need additional assistance, please contact the ITS Service Desk. You can call us at (858) 246-4357, email us at, or submit a ticket at