How to Clear apt Cache in Ubuntu [3 Effective Methods]

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Last updated: May 8, 2024

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To clear apt Cache in Ubuntu, you can try these methods:

  1. Clear all package files from the apt Cache using the apt-get clean command.
  2. Clear unnecessary package files from the apt Cache using the apt-get autoclean command.

Continue reading the guide below to learn different methods to clear apt Cache in Ubuntu and common errors that can occur when clearing the cache.

Are you running low on disk space on your Ubuntu system or having trouble with software installations? Clearing the apt Cache might just be the solution you’re looking for. In this guide, I’ll show you how to free up space and fix conflicts by getting rid of cached package files.

We’ll go through simple steps using both terminal commands and a graphical method to clear apt cache in Ubuntu. Plus, I’ll help you tackle some common errors that might pop up while you’re clearing the cache. Let’s get your system clean and running smoothly by managing the apt Cache efficiently!

What is APT Cache and Why is It Important to Clear?

The APT cache is a part of your computer where it keeps information about the software packages available for installation and the software packages that you have already downloaded. This helps your computer know what software it can install and makes future installations faster because some files are already downloaded.

Why Should You Clear the APT Cache?

  1. Free Up Space: The APT cache can take up a lot of space on your computer because it stores many software files. Clearing the cache removes these files and gives you more space for other things.
  2. Remove Old Software: Sometimes, the cache holds onto old versions of software that you don’t need anymore. Clearing the cache gets rid of these old files and keeps your computer tidy.
  3. Fix Installation Problems: If a software installation didn’t complete properly, there might be broken files in the cache. Clearing the cache can help fix this problem because it removes the broken files and lets your computer try downloading them again.

How to Clear apt Cache in Ubuntu

To clear the APT cache in Ubuntu, you have two options: using the terminal or a GUI tool. In the Terminal, type sudo apt-get clean to remove all cached files, or sudo apt-get autoclean to delete only obsolete packages. For a GUI method, open the Disk Usage Analyzer, navigate to /var/cache/aptcache, and manually delete the files. This approach lets you visually manage the space used by the cache.

Now, here are the detailed steps for each method to clear apt cache:

1. apt-get Clean Command

The apt-get clean command is a simple and effective way to clear apt Cache in Ubuntu. When executed, it removes all package files from the cache, freeing up disk space without affecting installed packages or configurations. Follow these steps:

  1. To begin, launch the Terminal on your Ubuntu system.
opening terminal 24
  1. Before clearing the Cache:
cache size before cleaning
  1. Type the following command and press Enter:
sudo apt-get clean
  1. The output will be:
cleaning cache using apt get command

2. apt-get Autoclean Command

The apt-get autoclean command is similar to apt-get clean but with a subtle difference. It removes only useless package files, keeping necessary ones intact. This ensures that you retain packages that might still be useful in case of downgrades or reinstalls. Follow these steps to clean apt Cache:

  1. Open the Terminal application on your Ubuntu system and type the following command:
sudo apt-get autoclean
  1. The command’s output indicates the removal of obsolete package files, while necessary ones remain in the cache.
cleaning cache using autoclean command

3. Graphical User Interface

If you prefer a more user-friendly approach, Ubuntu offers various GUI tools that simplify the process of clearing the apt Cache.GUI tools provide a more intuitive and user-friendly approach to clearing the apt Cache, especially for those who prefer graphical interfaces. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Disk Usage Analyzer from the application menu.
opening disk usage analyzer application
  1. Choose the disk of which you want to clear the apt Cache.
choosing disk
  1. There you will see a graphical representation of your disk usage. From there choose var, then choose cache, and then in cache right click on the apt Cache option. From there click on Move to trash option.
cleaning apt cache using GUI

3 Common Errors When Clearing apt Cache in Ubuntu

Clearing the apt Cache in Ubuntu is a routine maintenance task, but it’s not without its challenges. Understanding these errors can help you troubleshoot and resolve any issues that may arise during the process. Here are three common errors that you may encounter:

  • 🚫 “Could not get lock /var/lib/apt/lists/lock” error: This error occurs when another process, such as an ongoing update or package installation, is using the apt system. It indicates that the apt Cache cannot be cleared until the conflicting process is completed or terminated. Ensure all package installations or updates have finished and close any package management tools running in the background.
  • ⛔️ “Unable to lock directory /var/cache/apt/archives/” error: This error suggests that another instance of the package management system is currently using the apt Cache directory. It typically occurs when multiple package management tools or update managers are running simultaneously. To overcome this error, close any other package management applications and ensure that no updates or installations are currently in progress.
  • 🔐 “Could not open file /var/lib/dpkg/status” error: This error indicates that the status file dpkg package manager is either missing or inaccessible. The status file is essential for managing package installations and updates, including clearing the apt Cache. To resolve this error, ensure that the file exists and has the appropriate permissions.

In Conclusion

I have provided you with various methods to clear apt Cache in Ubuntu, including using commands like apt-get clean and apt-get autoclean, as well as GUI tools such as the Ubuntu Software Center. However, it’s important to be aware of common errors that may occur during the process, such as lock file conflicts and inaccessible files.

To explore deeper into Ubuntu maintenance, package management best practices, and resource optimization, consider exploring the following articles: Optimizing Ubuntu Startup Times, Mastering Ubuntu Package Management, and Tips for Ubuntu System Security. Remember, by regularly clearing the apt Cache and staying informed about system maintenance, you can ensure a smooth and efficient Ubuntu experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clear apt Cache in Ubuntu?

The frequency of clearing the APT cache in Ubuntu depends on your usage and disk space. For regular users, clearing the cache every few months is sufficient. If you frequently install and uninstall packages, consider clearing the cache more often to keep your system optimized.

Does clearing apt Cache affect installed packages?

No, clearing the APT cache does not affect installed packages. It only removes the stored .deb files from the cache, not the actual installed software. This process helps free up disk space without altering the functionality of any software you have installed.

Can I selectively clear the cache for specific packages?

Yes, you can selectively clear the cache for specific packages in Ubuntu. Use the command sudo apt-get clean [package-name] to remove the cached files related to a specific package. This is useful when you want to free up space but maintain other cached data.

Is it possible to automate apt Cache clearing in Ubuntu?

Yes, you can automate the clearing of the APT cache in Ubuntu by setting up a cron job. This scheduled task can run commands like sudo apt-get clean at regular intervals you define, ensuring your cache remains free of unnecessary files without manual intervention.



Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.



Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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