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IOTOP(8) System Manager's Manual IOTOP(8)


iotop - simple top-like I/O monitor


iotop [OPTIONS]


iotop watches I/O usage information available in the Linux kernel (requires 2.6.20 or later) and displays a table of current I/O usage by processes or threads on the system. At least the CONFIG_TASK_DELAY_ACCT, CONFIG_TASK_IO_ACCOUNTING, CONFIG_TASKSTATS and CONFIG_VM_EVENT_COUNTERS options need to be enabled in your Linux kernel build configuration.

Running iotop as non-root user is possible by adding the NET_ADMIN capability. This can be done by e.g.:

$ sudo setcap 'cap_net_admin+eip' <path-to>/iotop

Be warned that this will also allow other users to run it and get access to information that normally should not be available to them.

iotop displays columns for the I/O bandwidth read and written by each process/thread during the sampling period. It also displays the percentage of time the thread/process spent while swapping in and while waiting on I/O. For each process, its I/O priority (class/level) is shown.

In addition, the total I/O bandwidth read and written during the sampling period are displayed at the top of the interface. Total DISK READ and Total DISK WRITE values represent total read and write bandwidth between processes and kernel threads on one side and kernel block device subsystem on the other. While Current DISK READ and Current DISK WRITE values represent corresponding bandwidths for current disk I/O between the kernel block device subsystem and the underlying hardware (HDD, SSD, etc.). Thus Total and Current values may not be equal at any given moment of time due to data caching and I/O operations reordering that take place inside the Linux kernel.

Use the left and right arrows to select the sort column, r or space to reverse the sorting order, o to toggle the --only option (this uses the visible values from the GRAPH column or the IO column in case the GRAPH column is hidden), p to toggle the --processes option, a to toggle the --accumulated option, i to change the priority of a thread or a process's thread, f to change filtering by UID/PID (--user and --pid options), 1-9 to toggle the visibility of the respective column, 0 to show all columns, up/down arrows, page-up/page-down/home/end keys to scroll and q to quit. Any unrecognized key will be ignored.

All processes or threads that have exited are displayed grayed for the same time as is visible in the GRAPH column or 3 seconds when it is hidden. The invalid data points in the GRAPHS column are displayed inverse or with letter x (see option --dead-x and x shortcut). When using unicode characters each position contains two datapoints and only the positions with two invalid data points are reversed.

It is possible for threads of a process to have different priority from their main process. This is shown with ! in the PRIO column of the main process as e.g. !be/4.

Threads activity is always aggregated with and shown inside the main process.

When showing threads, they always appear below their main process and are sorted in the same way as the processes.

There are two ways to change the IO priority of a process or thread - press i and use arrows to select the process or thread from the visible ones on screen or press i and type its TID (PID and TID have the same value for the main process). Then use tab and arrows to change the priority value and confirm with enter. Shortcuts esc or q will cancel this mode.

To change the UID and PID filters, press f and use tab to select the UID or PID field, then type the numerical id or n to remove the filter and confirm with enter. Filtering is always done by TID because it is unique. Note that for the main process PID is the same as TID. Shortcuts esc or q will cancel this mode.


Show the version number and exit
Show usage information and exit
Only show processes or threads actually doing I/O, instead of showing all processes or threads. This can be dynamically toggled by pressing o
Turn on non-interactive mode. Useful for logging I/O usage over time
Set the number of iterations before quitting (never quit by default). This is most useful in non-interactive mode
Set the delay between iterations in seconds (1 second by default). Accepts non-integer values such as 1.1 seconds
A process/thread id to monitor (all by default)
A user id to monitor (all by default). The value will always be resolved first unless it is prefixed by + in which case it is threated as numeric only. Values that do not resolve but appear to be numeric are used as numeric
Only show processes. Normally iotop shows processes and all threads
Show accumulated I/O instead of bandwidth. In this mode, iotop shows the amount of I/O processes have done since iotop started
Use kilobytes instead of a human friendly unit. This mode is useful when scripting the batch mode of iotop. Instead of choosing the most appropriate unit iotop will display all sizes in kilobytes
Add a timestamp on each line (implies --batch). Each line will be prefixed by the current time
Show processes' full file path and parameters
-1, --hide-pid
Hide PID/TID column
-2, --hide-prio
Hide PRIO column
-3, --hide-user
Hide USER column
-4, --hide-read
Hide DISK READ column
-5, --hide-write
Hide DISK WRITE column
-6, --hide-swapin
Hide SWAPIN column
-7, --hide-io
Hide IO column
-8, --hide-graph
Hide GRAPH column
-9, --hide-command
Hide COMMAND column
-q, --quiet
Suppress some lines of header (implies --batch). This option can be specified up to three times to remove header lines
column names are only printed on the first iteration,
column names are never printed,
the I/O summary is never printed
Show dead processes/threads with letter x instead of inverse background


q, Q
<space>, r, R
Toggle sort order
Scroll to the top of the list
Scroll to the bottom of the list
Scroll one screen up
Scroll one screen down
Scroll one line up
Scroll one line down
Sort by next column
Sort by previous column
Toggle showing only processes with IO activity
Toggle showing processes/threads
Toggle showing accumulated/current values
?, h, H
Toggle showing shortcut help
Toggle showing full command line
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Toggle showing the column (column number corresponds to the shortcut)
Show all columns
IOnice a process/thread (depends on process/thread display mode)
Change UID and PID filters
Toggle using Unicode/ASCII characters for pseudo graph
Toggle the display mode of exited processes/threads between letter x and inverse background
Toggle freeze of data collection


ionice(1), top(1), vmstat(1), atop(1), htop(1)


The original Python iotop implementation was written by Guillaume Chazarain. This rewrite in C was started in 2014 by Vyacheslav Trushkin and reworked to include all missing features from the original Python code and several new ones in 2020 and 2021 by Boian Bonev.

This manual page was started by Paul Wise for the Debian project and is placed in the public domain.

January 28, 2021