Compare top and vmstat

top is the default command-line utility that comes pre-installed on Linux distributions and Unix-like operating systems. It is used for displaying information about the system and its top CPU-consuming processes as well as RAM usage.

vmstat (virtual memory statistics) is a system monitor which provides activity information about processes, CPU, memory, block IO, paging and more. It is commonly used for displaying virtual memory statistics.

Let's see how top and vmstat compare on various factors and features.

top

vmstat

Overall

Type

Type
Interactive system-monitor, process-viewer and process-manager
Type
Virtual memory monitor

Author

Author

Operating System

Operating System
Linux distributions, macOS
Operating System
Linux distributions, macOS

Installation

Installation
Built-in and is always there. Also has more adoption due to this fact.
Installation
Not always. Manual installation is needed in many cases.

Release Date

Release Date
1984
Release Date
1985

License

License
BSD
License
GNU General Public License (GPL-2.0)

Website

Website
Website
N/A
Features

Screenshot

Screenshot
top output on webserver
Output of top on a webserver
Screenshot
iotop output
Output of vmstat

User Interface

User Interface
2.5 Stars
Basic text only
User Interface
1.5 Stars
Command line ASCII output that is produced once and never updated by default. To make it update at regular intervals pass a numeric argument which acts as delay in seconds e.g. vmstat 3 updates every 3 seconds.

Scrolling Support

Scrolling Support
No
Scrolling Support
No

Mouse Support

Mouse Support
No
Mouse Support
No

Process utilization

Process utilization
Displays processes but not in tree format
Process utilization
No

Network Utilization

Network Utilization
No
Network Utilization
No

Disk Utilization

Disk Utilization
No
Disk Utilization
Yes with -d option

Comments

Comments
Has a learning curve for some advanced options like searching, sending messages to processes, etc. It is good to have some knowledge of top because it is the default process viewer on many systems.
Comments
Though it is very basic, it is a very handy tool for monitoring memory I/O and block activity.

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