Kodi Cache Myths & Mysteries Explained
So you sit down to watch the next episode of Game Of Thrones, beer in one hand remote in the other, click play…aaaargh
“Cache filled before reaching required amount for playback”
…and your left staring at a mostly black screen?A Review Of Cache Myths & Mysteries
- Cache Filled
- Cache Clearing
- Purge Packages & Clear Thumbs
- Zero Cache
- Limited NAND Life
- Kodi RAM Cache Setup
Annoying and frustrating in equal amounts, but what’s happening here and can it be fixed? The answer is yes and er no, I know, I know, but stick with me. There are more myths and mysteries surrounding cache and Kodi than any conspiracy theories about the moon landings. So lets refer to the Kodi wiki;
“A warning about the cache filling up does not actually mean that more cache space is needed or that the existing cache needs to be emptied. The warning box is not currently well worded and has lead to a lot of confusion with users. What it means is that the video is loading too slowly for the cache to smooth out all of the bumps, and that the bumps will keep happening due to that low video speed.”
I think that’s clear enough, it doesn’t mean its actually full or indeed that it needs emptying, which are the usual responses you’ll find on forums and FB groups. It means its that curse of an overworked and very busy server and despite what anyone tells you, nothing is going to fix that.
I wrote a general article to cover the basics behind buffering and a little good practice to try and keep things working Kodi Buffering – Why?
You can modify cache to smooth out playback where you have at least a reasonable feed, which I’ve covered here in more detail Kodi Cache Setup but please note these settings only cover Movies and TV on demand NOT live streams as there is currently no method to do so. Also be aware, this is effectively only with borderline performance – sometimes, you just have to move on, try another source or add-on.
You will see this touted as the panacea to everything going wrong in Kodi, “clear cache”, when actually, in 99% of cases, it does nothing!
Kodi rewrites the file as soon as it starts again, which is around 77mb Iits a bit less in 15 )- try it!
Here is a shot of Kodi info on Android – not the app cache declared. I’ve kept the pics whole so the timestamps are preserved, so as to avoid the “you just fixed the pics”
The next shot shows, its cleared;
…and of course as soon as you restart Kodi, it rewrites itself, the net result…is nada!
If you use one of the tools like Raw Maintenance or Muckys they will dig out some of the add on cache stores too, but the biggest reason for “clearing cache” stems back to the very origins of Kodi or XBMC as it was then version 9 Atlantis ( I joined the revolution with Eden release), its because “Zero Cache” left behind a lot of orphaned junk files – YES – I know its supposed to clear up, but it doesn’t and its just a bug.
Purge Packages & Clear Thumbnails Myths
You’ll see this one a lot – “hey I’ve got buffering problems” most common answer, “purge packages, clear thumbnails” – its as big a myth as cache clearing! Lets be clear, unless you’ve set 0 cache (read more on why your shouldnt later) then video cache is in RAM, not storage, Kodi defaults to 20mb video cache in RAM!
There is absolutely no reason why clearing storage is going to help with this, did you know that Kodi keeps the packages folder to 200mb and it self administers this? It wont ever get bigger. Now, there are reasons to clear this folder out sometimes, but buffering isn’t one of them!
Thumbnails are a slightly different story of course, Kodi doesn’t limit them and they can get very large indeed, but this takes months of usage even on a lowly Firestick, so clearing these once a MONTH is a good idea, but it wont fix buffering!
Zero Cache Cure!
Ok here’s another myth busted, using 0 cache will not and does improve the streaming of either live or on demand streams. Its something of a legacy cludge from years gone by (god I sound old huh?) when RAM was expensive and pretty limited, in 2009 the launch of XBMC as it was then, at version 9 Atlantis, was showing configurations for PIII cpu of 733mmhz and ram of 64Mb (seriously!).
Its no surprise that Kodi struggled to set its default 20Mb of cache up in RAM, so users had to use the “0 cache” mode – which forces Kodi to use the hard drive. No big deal right? Scroll forward 7 or 8 years and we now have nifty wee boxes that don’t have hard drives, they use “nand flash storage” or “non volatile memory” – which means it keeps everything when you power off.
So what’s the fuss about 0 cache on nand flash storage? Well because of the various subtleties of working across IOS, Windows, Linux and Android and the plethora of versions thereof, the clearing up process is a little flawed. 0 cache without a hard drive, will at some point cause your box to behave erratically; stopping playback after a few mins, crashing out to android, freezing, failing to boot etc. What’s happened is that your storage has become full or close to being full. its full of leftover cache files from the 0 cache setting.
If you’re in a FB group or forum for Kodi you will have become familiar with the cries for help, where people have set this option on a promise of a buffering cure, without understanding the implications.
Limited NAND Life
The crashing part of this story is the least worrying, you can simply reinstall. More advanced users can of course remove the temp folder to regain control. (Raw Maintenance & Muckys I believe will remove 0 cache orphaned files).
The real issue i that NAND flash has a limited number of “writes” before it will stop working. This can be as little as 100,000 writes or with more expensive devices (like SSD etc), “wear management” firmware, can mitigate this damage and make it last a lot longer. Cheap devices can die much quicker, you only have to spend a week in a FB group to find someone’s box no longer working due to storage full or NAND/ROM failure. (This can sometimes be recovered by reflashing)
I strongly urge you not to ever use the “0 cache” setting, only experienced users should ever do so. Although even then I see no reason not to use RAM setup on modern equipment, even pc’s and laptops.
Kodi RAM Cache Setup
This method is how the Kodi wiki explains RAM cache setup
I hope that’s cleared up some myths and mysteries of Kodi cache and what the issues are, please feel free to comment below.