Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Last night I had about 190GB of free space on my 500GB HDD. Today I have about 80GB free. I ran df and discovered that my /home/jon/.Private folder is currently using 80% of my hard drive.

What. The. Hell.

I really don't need to encrypt my files that bad. Can anyone tell me why I've lost so much space to this, and what I can do to recover as much free space as possible?

I realize that I'm not going to get back 330-something odd GB of space, but I lost 100GB overnight. I'm new enough to Ubuntu (and Linux in general) that I don't want to proceed without a firm understanding of what's going on here.

Thanks in advance, guys.

share|improve this question

Since its contents are encrypted, you are unlikely to be able to tell much by looking at the files in ~/.Private directly.

Instead, you'd be better off looking at the unencrypted view of those same files in ~/Private. The ecryptfs system has quite a low overhead, so if ~/.Private is large it is likely because you've placed a lot of data in ~/Private (or a program running on your behalf has done so).

share|improve this answer
I'm currently not using that environment since I noticed that my free space was steadily diminishing so I can't check directly, but I could swear that I don't actually have a ~/Private directory. Is that even possible or am I just missing the obvious? – newuser Jan 24 '12 at 3:22
Yep, I'm back in Ubuntu and there is no ~/Private. What does that mean? – newuser Jan 24 '12 at 3:31
Is it possible that you deleted the ~/Private directory at some point? That wouldn't have cleared the encrypted files found within. Assuming the key also hasn't been removed, you could try running mkdir ~/Private followed by ecryptfs-mount-private in a terminal might be enough to regain access. – James Henstridge Jan 24 '12 at 5:24
You might also find useful in understanding how the system works. – James Henstridge Jan 24 '12 at 5:26
ecryptfs-mount-private did not restore anything to ~/Private after I created the directory. Using sudo ecryptfs-mount-private prompted me for my passphrase. Thankfully (and totally by accident) I remember my passphrase, but after entering it I get an error: fopen: No such file or directory. – newuser Jan 24 '12 at 14:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.