Solving the E: You dont have enough free space in /var/cache/apt/archives/ Error on Debian Systems

Why this error occurs?

This error is usually encountered when you are trying to install, update or upgrade software packages in your Debian based system. The package manager, APT, downloads packages and stores them in a cache located in the /var/cache/apt/archives/ directory before installing them. If your system runs out of space in this directory, you will receive this error: “E: You dont have enough free space in /var/cache/apt/archives/”.

Solving the problem:

To solve this problem, we have three broad solutions, namely:

1. Clearing the APT cache: This will delete all downloaded packages that have already been installed which are still being kept in the cache for possible reinstallation.
2. Expanding the size of your root partition: If you frequently download large software packages, you might need to resize your root partition to accommodate these large files.
3. Moving the APT cache: You can change the directory where APT stores its downloaded packages.

Method 1: Clearing the APT cache

You can clear the APT cache using the following command:

sudo apt-get clean

This command will remove all packages from the package cache. The next time you install a package, APT will have to download it again. This method quickly frees up space but might result in slower package installations in the future.

Method 2: Expanding the size of your root partition

The process of resizing your partition depends on your disk layout. If you have unallocated space on your disk, you can use a tool like GParted to resize your root partition.

However, expanding disk space isn’t always an option, especially in virtualized or cloud environments, where space is often limited and might be expensive.

Method 3: Moving the APT cache

You can configure APT to store its cache in a different directory that has more space. Here’s how:

First, create a new directory. Suppose we have a bigger /data partition and we want to store the packages there:
sudo mkdir -p /data/apt

Set proper permissions for the directory:
sudo chown _apt:root /data/apt

Finally, tell APT to use this new directory. Open /etc/apt/apt.conf (create the file if it doesn’t exist) and add the following line:
Dir::Cache::Archives "/data/apt/";

After saving the file, run sudo apt-get update. This process will now store future downloads in /data/apt instead of /var/cache/apt/archives/.


When dealing with Debian based systems, it is very common to encounter a situation where you don’t have enough space in your /var/cache/apt/archives/ directory. Hopefully, with the right understanding and preventive measures, you can handle such scenarios effectively. As best practice, it’s essential to keep monitoring your disk space utilization to prevent such situations.

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