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.


2 Answers 2


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).

  • 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, 2012 at 3:22
  • Yep, I'm back in Ubuntu and there is no ~/Private. What does that mean?
    – newuser
    Jan 24, 2012 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. Jan 24, 2012 at 5:24
  • You might also find help.ubuntu.com/community/EncryptedPrivateDirectory useful in understanding how the system works. Jan 24, 2012 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, 2012 at 14:24

I just went through a similar situation on Ubuntu 16.04. Not having ever set up the ~/Private folder, but with the ~/.Private folder taking up 90% of disk space available. In my case I had enabled the /home folder encryption option during install; it seems that in such case the ~/.Private folder is set up automatically for the purpose. You can verify it, if the ~/.Private folder is a link to /home/.encryptfs this is most likely the case:

$ ll ~/.Private
lrwxrwxrwx 1 user user 33 nov  1 16:25 /home/user/.Private -> /home/.ecryptfs/user/.Private/

I do not know exactly what causes this expansion of the encrypted file system, but it is basically the ~/.Trash folder. I just needed to empty the Trash in the DE to bring things back to normal. I suspect that when single files are removed from the Trash they somehow remain in the encrypted file system; emptying the Trash fixes this.

Note that it may take several minutes for the system to report the correct space usage after the Trash is emptied.

  • I second this. Emptying the trash clear me 1.5 GB+ of data that is impossible to clear otherwise Oct 30, 2018 at 3:58
  • What is the DE?
    – Paul
    Jun 26, 2020 at 23:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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