I am in the process of cleaning up my system. And I see a lot of space occupied by this folder /var/cache/apt/archives (1.5GB). Is it absolutely necessary to keep all these archives?


You don't need to keep them around if you don't want them. Executing a

sudo apt-get clean

will clean out the directory.

  • Why after I have issued this command I still can see the cached deb files in the Ubuntu Tweek tool?
    – Cristiano
    Jul 22 '16 at 16:59
  • @Cristiano it might be that the tool is in a partially-installed state and so apt thinks it needs to keep it.
    – Doktor J
    Aug 6 '19 at 16:14

Seems like

sudo apt-get autoclean

is a better choice than

sudo apt-get clean

autoclean will only remove "useless" archives

From the man page:

Like clean, autoclean clears out the local repository of retrieved package files. The difference is that it only removes package files that can no longer be downloaded, and are largely useless. This allows a cache to be maintained over a long period without it growing out of control. The configuration option APT::Clean-Installed will prevent installed packages from being erased if it is set to off.

  • 11
    Even if this is what I also remembered from way back - turns out, for me (on 11.04) autoclean did NOT remove files in /var/cache/apt/archives/ - while clean did...
    – sdaau
    Mar 4 '14 at 20:18
  • I'm actually seeing the opposite, autoclean basically emptied the directory while clean did nothing.
    – alanaktion
    Dec 24 '14 at 18:32
  • just brilliant... The first things i found so easy .. :p
    – mtk
    Sep 16 '16 at 21:41
  • 1
    No, clean is the better choice if you want to save disk space. My testing (ubuntu 18) showed clean removed 18G when autoclean removed little (less than 1 GB, if that)
    – gerardw
    Jul 14 '19 at 16:15
  • 1
    useless archives to me are installed ones (I download only most times), by not specifying what "useless" actually means makes that option useless (pun intended :)) Dec 16 '20 at 20:42

You can adjust settings in Synaptic package manager, menu Settings/Preferences, the Files tab. From there you can also delete the cache.


It is better to save packages elsewhere then clean it up [Jorge Castro's process]. When you reinstall OS or a package it will not download again which save time and bandwidth. apt-get first check require packages in local storage[/var/cache/apt/archives] if does not exists then download else just do install. So you can save packages for future uses.

  • 4
    I doubt he will need all the 1,5Gb of updates to use on a new system! Oct 12 '11 at 20:13
  • 1
    They can be moved on a CD or other support, so they don't waste space on the local drive. This is called a 'local repository'.
    – ignis
    Nov 7 '12 at 20:37
  • 1
    Save packages elsewhere? Yes, that's what I've done here. I've mv'd the whole /var/cache/apt/archives to /usr/tmp/apt-archive-cache and set an archives symbolic link in /var/cache/apt accordingly. Since especially audacity likes to store temporary files in /var, this directory should always be taken care of so that it never runs out of space. Oct 2 '14 at 13:09

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