WSL 2 virtual hard drive issues

3 minute read

Getting straight into it, WSL has its share of problems compared to native linux - but we’re getting there.

In this post, I address the issue of deleting large files and still not having the space claimed back by the host OS. ( or at least this is the case when you notice it)

What really happens is , your linux distro does free it from its own file system (ext4 by default). However, this storage exists as a virtual hard disk in your windows file system (NTFS by default).

Hence, when you delete a large file or a large number of small files using rm or unlink in WSL, you’ll notice that the space is not freed up in your host OS partition.

If you google a bit in the context of linux, you’ll find solutions directing you to …

lsof | grep deleted

… and then get to the corresponding pid in /proc/ and delete that file.

Well.., that is not the case here.

If you examine your disk usage using du or GUI analysers such as baobab, you’ll notice that, you have the space freed in your distro.

However, when you check on your windows file system - it’s the same. The first time this happened to me, I racked my brains off for a day and finally decided to re-setup my environment : deleting the current virtual hard disk altogether.

Today, things could go down the same lane.

  • But, once I’d found a problem, it wasn’t difficult to dial down on the solution : one of them being to use Window’s Hyper-V management to optimize the vhd.

  • But, that needed windows 10 pro or education. I didn’t want to make a rash decision. Who wants to purchase an upgrade to fix a “problem” of the current version ( I have the home version ).

  • But, now that I am a better human in all respects and sport a longer beard ( and hence greater accompanying patience ) : I googled a bit more and found this

  • And now, I’m happy.

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