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

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Last updated: July 17, 2023

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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 obsolete package files from the apt Cache using the apt-get autoclean command.
  3. Use a GUI tool to clear apt Cache in Ubuntu, such as the Disk Usage Analyzer.

When clearing the apt Cache in Ubuntu, you may encounter common errors such as lock conflicts or inaccessible files. Resolving these errors involves identifying conflicting processes and ensuring they are completed or terminated to clear the cache successfully.

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.

The apt-cache plays a vital role in Ubuntu’s package management system. It stores downloaded packages, allowing for faster installation and updates. However, the apt-cache can accumulate a significant amount of disk space over time. Clearing the cache reclaims this space, helps resolve package conflicts, and ensures system security. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explore different methods to clear apt Cache in Ubuntu and common errors that can occur when clearing the cache.

How to Clear apt Cache in Ubuntu

To clear apt Cache in Ubuntu, you can use the apt-get clean command to remove all package files, execute apt-get autoclean to remove obsolete files while keeping necessary ones, or utilize user-friendly GUI tools like Disk Usage Analyzer.

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:
<strong>sudo apt-get clean</strong>
  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 obsolete 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:
<strong>sudo apt-get autoclean</strong>
  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

5 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 five 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 completes or is terminated. To resolve this error, ensure that 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 of the dpkg package manager is either missing or inaccessible. The status file is essential for managing package installations and updates, including clearing the apt Cache. It often occurs due to incorrect permissions or corruption of the file. To resolve this error, ensure that the file exists and has the appropriate permissions.
  • 🔒“Could not get lock /var/cache/apt/archives/lock” error: This error signifies that the apt Cache lock file is being used by another process. It commonly occurs when an ongoing package installation or update is in progress. To resolve this error, you need to identify the process holding the lock and either wait for it to complete or terminate it. Additionally, ensure that no other package management tools or processes are running.
  • 🛑“Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock” error: This error occurs when the dpkg package manager is already being used by another process. It typically arises if you have multiple package management operations running simultaneously or if a previous operation didn’t complete successfully. To resolve this error, you’ll need to identify and terminate the conflicting process. Make sure no other package installations or updates are ongoing.

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, the Ubuntu community, official documentation, and reputable blogs are valuable resources for further learning. 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?

Clearing the apt Cache once every few months or when you’re running low on disk space is generally recommended. However, the frequency of cache clearing depends on your individual usage patterns and disk space availability. If you frequently install or update packages, clearing the cache more frequently can help maintain optimal system performance and prevent excessive disk space usage. Regularly monitoring your disk space and assessing the need for cache clearing will ensure that your Ubuntu system runs smoothly.

Does clearing apt Cache affect installed packages?

No, clearing the apt Cache does not affect installed packages. The apt Cache primarily stores downloaded package files, separate from your system’s installed packages. When you clear the apt Cache, you’re only removing the downloaded files that are no longer needed for future installations or updates. The actual installed packages and their configurations remain intact. Clearing the apt Cache is a safe operation that helps free up disk space without impacting the stability or functionality of your installed packages.

Can I selectively clear the cache for specific packages?

Currently, there is no built-in method to clear the cache for specific packages in Ubuntu selectively. The cache clearing methods mentioned earlier, such as apt-get clean and apt-get autoclean, clear the entire apt Cache. While it may be desirable in certain cases to remove specific packages from the cache, the existing cache clearing methods don’t provide that level of granularity. However, regularly clearing the entire cache ensures that outdated or unnecessary package files are removed, improving system efficiency.

Is it possible to automate apt Cache clearing in Ubuntu?

Yes, it is possible to automate the process to clear apt Cache in Ubuntu. By creating a simple bash script that includes the appropriate cache clearing command, you can schedule it to run periodically using tools like cron or systemd timers. These tools allow you to set specific intervals for cache clearing, such as daily, weekly, or monthly. Automating the cache clearing process ensures that your apt Cache remains clean without requiring manual intervention. It’s a convenient way to maintain system performance and free up disk space on a regular basis.



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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