Kodi Auto Maintenance

This has to be a good thing right? You need maintenance to keep Kodi running smoothly dont you?If you visit YouTube, google or Facebook, every answer to every problem is about cleaning cache and purging packages as the mythical maintenance panacea to streaming issues.

Its all WRONG!

I will try to keep this as jargon and tech speak free as I can. I know this might appear a bit tedious, but as a Kodi user you need to at least have a basic understanding to guard against being given bad advice all the time.

The Maintenance Myth

When Kodi first came onto the market, devices were very low powered compared to todays technology and RAM was expensive. So low RAM devices were common place and things like 128mb would have been large! Yes you read MB not GB, as today 2GB or 2000MB is considered average. Video streams are stored or cached in RAM and with low RAM availability the coders came up with a way to cache to a disk or hard drive, often referred to as “Zero Cache”; meaning zero cached to RAM.

The “Zero Cache” Cure

This process was flawed and still is, it leaves behind files, lots of them. These “cache” files would fill up lots of space, if you think of 1-2GB per movie, you have an idea of how much space this could take up. This wasn’t generally a problem as most people using it, back then, were tech savvy. They knew or could see it happening and tidied up by manually deleting these orphaned files.

You should take note, that video streams are cached to RAM under normal usage and never to a file. Therefore never needing clearing or any “maintenance”. It is one of the most misunderstood parts of how Kodi works.

The “Cache Clear” Myth

If you use this method of caching to hard drive (very large) on a device that has no hard drive, eg an android type box, the “zero cache” usage would fill up the small storage space (4, 8 even 16GB) very quickly, remember a typical movie is 1-2GB in size. Once it started to get full then “buffering” would occur, due to having nowhere to store the file anymore. “Hey I’ve got buffering” would be cry, with the answer “clear cache” So having used “0 cache” and created a file, it needed clearing. Given that scenario, its the right answer, however, take account that only a few so called “cache” tools these days actually delete this type of cache file anyway (like Raw Maintenance & Ares Wizard).

Many so called “cache clear” maintenance tools just clear the application cache – pointless at best, but wouldn’t help with this problem anyway. As I have explained, Video cache isnt even a file unless you forced this legacy option!

Here is a shot of my “cache” after many months and loads of installs for testing and blogging.

This shows how much in the cache folder in total, but please note, this is not application cache, this is cache that kodi and addons create in the temp folder;

A whopping 40.2mb! I don think you would notice this even on a Firestick, even the application cache is 60mb+. So I hope this clears up the myths and utter fantasy surrounding cache files.

The Biggest Cache Myth

As you might imagine every vlogger and blogger would circulate the “clear cache” advice as the cure for buffering and all the problems that filling your hard drive or storage space would cause. This AT THE TIME was the correct fix, but since we have large amounts of RAM available to us for several years now, the “zero cache” fix is no longer in use. This is where the “clear cache” myth was born and due to “social media” is taught to anyone arriving on the Kodi scene within seconds of asking a question. Its outdated and irrelevant now as there is no need to activate the “0 cache” option.

Purging Packages

Packages are zip files of addons that you install, or are downloaded as an update. They are files and as I have explained previously, therefore cannot be responsible for buffering or other associated problems you encounter on Kodi. (see image below)

 Keeping these files allows you to “rollback” if a bad update occurs. Its rare it happens, but they do, such as the fabled Genesis bugs and of course the bad URL update. Kodi has a setting to manage these, its called packagefoldersize and its defaults to 200mb.

You should never have reason to clear these, even the amount of space they use is tiny and insignificant. It is nothing to do with streaming nor buffering and does not affect device or kodi performance in anyway.

Delete Thumbnails

This new fashion for clearing on startup must have server owners holding their heads in despair, what the hell are you thinking? The reason you keep images locally, like thumbnails, is to speed up Kodi not make it slower. If you delete them they have to be downloaded again. If you watch carefully, go to Exodus, browse some movies, delete thumbs and do the same. See how much slower it is? That’s because they’re all being downloaded, again. Why download ten times when you can do it once?

The poor server hosts, holding those images are shipping lots of traffic, I recall Trakt removing thumbnail integration in Kodi, as they were shipping 250TB of data per month, imagine what deleting your thumbnails everyday is doing?

As big as Trakt are, its a small percentage of overall traffic, just think about the big providers, like IMDb, TMDb or even those guys that self host?

Imagine all these lovely wizard tools going out to thousands of people who don’t know any better, fed on a diet of myths about deleting everything every few seconds! You the provider of these tools are effectively creating a giant botnet that will see hosts start actively blocking or charging for access, due to a massive increase in downloads that your are creating.

This is a call for every wizard and build author to limit auto maintenance to monthly usage only. There really is no need whatsoever to be doing this, not even on a Firestick.

If you update your build every month or more, there couldn’t possibly be any maintenance needed, as you do a fresh start at every update (or should !).

It is the key reason that Ares never activated the “auto maintenance” feature. No evidence it does anything to help, but is very detrimental to the people who provide the thumbnail images.

The Sinister Hidden Issue

Now that we have debunked all this maintenance rubbish circulated on social media. Let me explain to you that you are slowly killing your device by repeatedly erasing and then downloading images etc. Yes that’s right but nobody told you that did they?

Many Raspberry Pi owners will be only too familiar with SD cards becoming unusable after fairly short periods of time. What? Ok, the storage in boxes is basically an SD card (NAND* Flash memory), a kind of a memory that holds the information written to it, even after a power off. This kind of memory has a “write” life, an average number of times you can write to a section before it stops working.

Take note – if your box dies, you cant reformat the the SD memory, although its possible to reflash, but its pretty high risk nevertheless.

* This is different to SSD technology; SLC NOR flash. SSD have highly sophisticated methods of wear levelling.

Storage Write Life

This is actually another complex subject, but again, I will try to simplify this. Storage memory is like a giant bunch of boxes or blocks, millions or even trillions of them in fact. They have something called “write life”, so think of a piece of chalk on a blackboard, each time you use it, it wears, eventually you cannot write anymore – that’s write life!

There are things that quality SD memory makers do, that makes these things last quite long periods, in fact, used wisely they can last years. However, cheap SD memory doesn’t have these “wear mitigation” controls and can fail in as little as 1000 writes. The high end, high quality boxes should last much longer, with as many as 100,000 writes before failure.

You are slowly “wearing out” your box, when there’s is absolutely no good reason for wiping and downloading everything every time you start. It will make your Kodi or SPMC run slower not faster, whilst putting more strain, on already busy servers.

If you have issues with Kodi and you are told to clear packages and thumbnails etc, you now know its a pointless exercise. It wont help anything, certainly not streams or buffering. It only needs to be done if you are low on storage space on your device. There are no other reasons to perform these actions.

Auto Maintenance on Kodi

There is no need for almost any maintenance on Kodi. Installing the official repos to ensure you get the official updates is advised. There is no need to be using antiquated settings like “zero cache”. There’s no need to be deleting packages. Kodi generally manages these (using packagefoldersize – defaults to 200mb), it will generally clean these up. Funny thing that its only bad Wizards that mess this up by failing to remove their own install zips on install. That may give rise to purging packages immediately after a build install completes, but that’s it.

If you clear thumbnails once a month, that should be fine. I only do this if its taking up large amounts of storage. None of these files are anything to do with buffering or video sources, cannot affect or improve buffering.

Enjoy your Kodi, accept that sometimes things don’t work, or break or randomly stop working. This is the nature of streaming.

Kodi is a registered trademark of the XBMC Foundation. We are neither connected to, nor in any way affiliated with  the Kodi brand, nor the XBMC Foundation. If you require further assistance, go to ares-project.uk.