How To Clean Your YUM Cache

How To Clean Your YUM Cache

YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified) is a powerful package management tool used in CentOS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) systems. It simplifies the process of installing, updating, and removing software packages, ensuring that your system remains up-to-date and secure. However, as you use YUM over time, its cache can grow significantly, consuming valuable disk space and potentially causing performance issues. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the YUM cache, explore why it’s essential to keep it clean and provide step-by-step instructions on how to effectively clean your YUM cache to optimize your system’s performance and manage disk space efficiently.

What is the YUM Cache?

The YUM cache is a local repository that stores downloaded RPM package files, XML metadata files containing package information, and repository data such as package names, versions, and dependencies. This cache is located in the /var/cache/yum directory on your CentOS or RHEL system. Its primary purpose is to speed up package management tasks by avoiding the need to download the same files repeatedly from remote repositories.

The YUM cache consists of three main components:

  1. Packages: These are the downloaded RPM package files that are ready to be installed on your system.
  2. Headers: XML metadata files that contain essential information about the packages, such as their names, versions, and dependencies.
  3. Metadata: Repository data that includes details about available packages, their versions, and dependencies.

Over time, as you install, update, and remove packages using YUM, the cache grows in size. This growth can lead to potential issues like consuming significant disk space and using outdated or corrupted cache data, which may cause problems during package management operations.

Why Clean the YUM Cache?

Regularly cleaning your YUM cache offers several benefits that contribute to the optimal performance and maintenance of your CentOS or RHEL system:

  1. Free up disk space: By removing cached package files, headers, and metadata that are no longer needed, you can reclaim valuable disk space that can be used for other purposes.
  2. Resolve issues caused by outdated or corrupted cache data: Sometimes, the cached data may become outdated or corrupted, leading to errors like “Metadata file does not match checksum” during package management tasks. Clearing the cache and refreshing the data can resolve such issues.
  3. Improve package management performance: A clean and up-to-date YUM cache ensures that package management operations, such as installing or updating packages, are performed efficiently by using the latest available data.
  4. Troubleshoot errors: Clearing the YUM cache can help troubleshoot various package management errors by eliminating potential conflicts or inconsistencies in the cached data.

Cleaning the YUM Cache

To clean your YUM cache, you can use the ‘yum clean’ command followed by specific options depending on what you want to clean. Here are the different options available:

  • yum clean packages‘: This option removes the cached RPM package files that have been downloaded and stored in the cache. Use this option when you want to free up disk space consumed by these package files.
sudo yum clean packages
  • yum clean headers‘: This option deletes the cached XML header files that contain metadata about the packages. These header files are used by YUM to determine package dependencies and other information.
sudo yum clean headers
  • yum clean metadata‘: This option clears the cached repository metadata. Metadata includes information about available packages, their versions, and dependencies. Cleaning metadata can be useful when you encounter issues related to repository data, such as outdated or inconsistent information.
sudo yum clean metadata
  • yum clean all‘: This is the most comprehensive option that cleans all the cached data, including packages, headers, and metadata. It effectively removes all the files stored in the YUM cache directory.
sudo yum clean all

To verify the cache usage before and after cleaning, you can use the ‘du’ command to check the disk space consumed by the YUM cache directory:

du -sh /var/cache/yum

Additionally, there are a couple of other options you can use with ‘yum clean’:

  • yum clean expire-cache‘: This option removes cached data for repositories that have expired. It’s useful when you have repositories with expiration dates set.
  • yum clean rpmdb‘: This option cleans the RPM database, which contains information about installed packages on your system. It can help resolve issues related to the RPM database.

Handling Untracked Repositories

Untracked or stale repositories are those that have been disabled or removed from your system’s repository configuration. When you run ‘yum clean all’, it may not remove the cache files associated with these untracked repositories. To completely clean up the cache, you’ll need to manually remove the cache files for these repositories.

Here’s how you can identify and remove cache files for untracked repositories:

  • List the directories in the YUM cache directory:
ls /var/cache/yum
  • Identify the directories that correspond to the untracked repositories. These directories will have names similar to the repository names.
  • Remove the identified directories using the ‘rm‘ command:
sudo rm -rf /var/cache/yum/repository_name

Replace ‘repository_name‘ with the actual name of the untracked repository directory.

Best Practices and Maintenance

To keep your YUM cache in optimal condition and ensure smooth package management operations, consider the following best practices:

  1. Periodically clean the YUM cache, such as on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on your system’s usage and requirements.
  2. Automate the cache cleaning process by creating scripts or setting up cron jobs to run the cleaning commands at regular intervals.
  3. Monitor disk usage and cache size regularly to identify when cleaning is necessary. You can use tools like ‘du’ or ‘df’ to check disk space consumption.
  4. Keep your repositories up-to-date and remove any unused or unnecessary repositories to minimize the cache size and ensure that you have access to the latest package versions.
  5. Optimize YUM performance by enabling delta RPM updates, which download only the changes between package versions instead of the entire package. You can also consider using a faster mirror for your repositories to speed up package downloads.


Cleaning your YUM cache is a crucial task for maintaining the performance and disk space efficiency of your CentOS or RHEL system. By regularly removing cached package files, headers, and metadata, you can free up valuable disk space, resolve issues caused by outdated or corrupted cache data, and ensure smooth package management operations.

Throughout this guide, we’ve explored the different components of the YUM cache, the reasons why cleaning it is important, and provided step-by-step instructions on how to clean the cache using various ‘yum clean‘ options. We’ve also covered how to handle untracked repositories, troubleshoot common issues, and implement best practices for ongoing cache maintenance.

By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can keep your YUM cache clean, optimize your system’s performance, and effectively manage disk space. Remember to regularly clean the cache, automate the process when possible, and stay proactive in monitoring disk usage and cache size.

For further information and advanced YUM/DNF configuration options, consult the official documentation and resources provided by the CentOS and RHEL communities. Happy cache cleaning!


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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