Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Is it Safe to Delete /var/cache/apt Content?

Ubuntu 7

In the world of Linux, managing space efficiently is crucial, especially when dealing with embedded systems with limited disk space. One of the directories that often comes under scrutiny is /var/cache/apt. This directory stores package files that apt downloads when installing software. Over time, this can take up a considerable amount of space. This brings us to the question – is it safe to delete /var/cache/apt content? Let’s delve into this topic in depth.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is safe to delete the content in the /var/cache/apt directory. However, it should be done with caution and following certain best practices. Deleting the .bin files is safe, but avoid deleting the repository signing keys to prevent issues with package installation. Additionally, there are various strategies to manage disk space effectively in the /var/cache/apt directory.

Understanding /var/cache/apt Directory

Before we proceed, it’s essential to understand what the /var/cache/apt directory is. This directory is where the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) stores a cache of installed software packages. It includes .deb package files and other related data. The apt-get or apt command uses these files to handle packages and to resolve dependencies.

Is It Safe to Delete?

The short answer is yes. It is safe to delete the content in the /var/cache/apt directory. However, it’s not as simple as just hitting the delete key. There are certain considerations and best practices to follow.

Deleting .bin Files

The *.bin files in the /var/cache/apt directory can be safely deleted. These files are generated when you run the apt-get update command. If you delete these files, they will be regenerated the next time you run the update.

However, it’s important to note that the apt-get clean command does not remove these *.bin files. This command only removes the package files that apt-get downloads when installing software.

Deleting Repository Signing Keys

While it’s safe to delete the *.bin files, you should avoid deleting the repository signing keys. These keys are used to verify the integrity of the packages. Deleting them could result in issues with package installation.

Managing Disk Space in /var/cache/apt Directory

There are several strategies to manage disk space in the /var/cache/apt directory:

Auto Clean

You can configure APT to automatically clean the cache directory after each use. This can be done by adding the following line to the end of /etc/apt/apt.conf:

DPkg::Post-Invoke { "apt-get clean"; };

This command tells APT to run apt-get clean after every operation, which will clear the cache and free up disk space.

Remove Archives

Another strategy is to disable and remove unused source archives and archives that are not in use. You can use the apt-cache policy command to determine the repository a package is coming from.

Remove Unnecessary PPAs

Some Personal Package Archives (PPAs) may have a large number of packages that are not needed. You can disable these PPAs and manually install the required .deb files to save space.

Create a Local Apt Repository

If the main repositories are not useful for your system, consider setting up a local apt repository server that hosts only the subset of packages you need. This can be beneficial if you have multiple machines.

Manually Install via dpkg

If disk space is a significant issue, you might want to disable apt altogether and revert to manually installing packages using dpkg. However, this approach can be more challenging to manage.


In conclusion, it is safe to delete the content in the /var/cache/apt directory, but it should be done with care. Always remember to avoid deleting the repository signing keys, and consider using strategies to manage disk space effectively. With the right approach, you can ensure your system runs smoothly without running out of disk space.

Can I delete the entire `/var/cache/apt` directory?

It is generally not recommended to delete the entire /var/cache/apt directory as it can lead to issues with package management. It is best to follow the strategies mentioned in the article to manage disk space effectively.

What happens if I delete the `.deb` package files in `/var/cache/apt`?

Deleting the .deb package files in /var/cache/apt will not prevent you from using or updating installed packages. However, if you need to reinstall a package, it will need to be downloaded again, which may take more time and use additional bandwidth.

How can I check the current disk space usage in the `/var/cache/apt` directory?

You can use the du -sh /var/cache/apt command to check the disk space usage of the /var/cache/apt directory. It will provide you with the total size of the directory in a human-readable format.

Can I disable automatic caching of package files in `/var/cache/apt`?

Yes, you can disable automatic caching of package files in /var/cache/apt by modifying the APT configuration file. Edit the /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20archive file and add the line Acquire::http {No-Cache=True;}; to disable caching.

How often should I manually clean the `/var/cache/apt` directory?

The frequency of manually cleaning the /var/cache/apt directory depends on your system usage and available disk space. It is recommended to periodically check the disk space usage and clean the directory when it starts to occupy a significant amount of space.

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