Ubuntu – Disk Usage Analyzer reports that the .ecryptfs file is taking up as much space as the home drive


I selected "encrypt home partition"
when I set up my netbook with Ubuntu. The disk usage analyzer now reports that twice as much space is taken up than actually is used. I have seen this question asked a few times, but the response typically tends to be along the lines of ".ecrypts/.Private are your actual home drive, and is encrypted, and the one that shows up as the home drive is virtual, it's not actually taking up hard drive space," which perfectly identifies the problem but is not helpful in fixing it.

Now, regardless of whether the hard drive is actually full, the system is treating it as full. I keep getting warnings that I have 10MB of space left; I can't update my dropbox folder; I can't move files around efficiently; the machine seems unhappy, etc. Is the only way to fix this to do the risky decryption procedure that involves permanently removing the home folder from the machine and possibly not being able to decrypt the backup? Or is there some way to fix the disk usage analyzer so that it doesn't count the virtual home folder along with the private folder? I would prefer to keep my data encrypted.


Best Answer

This is a bug in the disk analyzer utility. It is misrepresenting the amount of storage that's actually being used on your disk.

The files that are actually written to disk (if you're using Ubuntu's Encrypted Home Directory) are located in /home/.ecryptfs. The files and directories you see in your $HOME are actually a virtual representation of your encrypted data. It's a phantom view of your decrypted data that the Linux kernel presents to the rest of the operating system. Rest assured that it's not taking up twice the disk space.

Full disclosure: I am the author of Ubuntu's Encrypted Home Directory feature and one of the current maintainers of eCryptfs.