What is a "sparse file", and can they be identified?

Solution Verified - Updated -


  • The file size is inconsistent between ls and df for a file.
  • This file reports a large size (128Gb) but the filesystem isn't even that big. How is this possible?

    # ls -lah datafile
    -rw------- 1 root root  137438953440 May 28 10:05 datafile
    # df -h
    Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
    /dev/sda               20G  9.8G  9.0G  53% /


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9

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