Tag: temporary files

How to permanently disable Adobe’s PDApp.log (and others) on Windows or Mac

I recently discovered that Adobe’s Creative Cloud software left a massive pile of PDApp.log files in my temporary directories, as well as a few others such as CEP8-PPro.log and AdobeIPCBroker.log. These were taking up quite a bit of space, and I’ve looked up PDApp.log only to discover that some people have had serious issues with PDApp.log consuming all available free space on their drives after a while. One user reported having a 600GB log file! Needless to say, several people have asked how they can control these log files, but as usual, Adobe support and forum users offered no actual solutions.

I’m here with your solution!

Adobe log symlinks
What a sweet, sweet sight these are.

On Windows, you’ll need to open Task Manager and kill all Adobe processes to unlock the log files (not just stuff starting with Adobe, but also Creative Cloud processes and any node.exe instances they started) then open an administrative command prompt and type the following two commands:

cd %temp%
del PDApp.log
mklink PDApp.log NUL:

This goes to your temporary directory, deletes the PDApp.log file (if you get an “in use” error here you missed an Adobe process in Task Manager), and creates a file symbolic link to a special device called NUL: which is literally the “nothing” device. When the Adobe apps write to PDApp.log now, all writes will succeed (no errors) but the data will simply be discarded. You can repeat the delete/mklink process for any other Adobe logs you don’t want around anymore. Best of all, because symlinks on Windows require admin privileges to modify, the Adobe apps won’t rotate these fake log files out! Be aware that cleanup tools like CCleaner or Disk Cleanup may delete these links, so you may need to repeat these steps if you delete your temp folder contents with a cleaning tool. You may want to write a small batch file to run the commands in one shot if you like to delete temp files frequently.

On Mac OS (note: I haven’t tested this myself, but it should work) you should be able to kill all Adobe processes with Activity Monitor, then open Terminal, then type this:

ln -sf /dev/null ~/Library/Logs/PDApp.log

Linux/UNIX administrators will recognize this as the classic “redirect to /dev/null” technique that we all know and love. Since I have no way to test this, Adobe may rotate these links out, but you can use this command to lock down the symlink if it does:

sudo chown -h root:wheel ~/Library/Logs/PDApp.log

This will ask for your account password since it requires privilege escalation. This command makes the link owned by “root” which means normal user programs can’t rename or delete it, though they can still write through the link, so the trick will continue to work.

UPDATE: Some have asked what the purpose of the PDApp.log file is and whether it’s safe to do this. The answers are, respectively, “logs information for troubleshooting Creative Cloud installation problems” and “yes, absolutely.” If you’re not having installation issues, this log is just taking up space and wearing out your SSD. If you need to “re-enable it” it’s as simple as deleting the “decoy” links you made with these directions which will allow the logs to be created as if nothing ever happened.

Completely disable Firefox disk caching and thumbnail generation for speed and paranoia

A comment on an article on Ars Technica reminded me that people have been convicted of possession of child pornography in the past based solely on the contents of their web browser’s cache (Internet Explorer calls them “temporary internet files.”) The problem with this is that these days, you don’t necessarily have to see or click on anything to have it load into your browser cache. Ignoring questionable ads and unexpected pop-ups and someone else touching your computer as a source of such garbage, actual “features” like link prefetching can do this by loading the contents of certain links on a page in anticipation of you clicking through them while never necessarily doing so. It’s pretty scary to think about such things, but they can and do happen, and if some forensic guy ever sees the contents of your hard drive, you don’t want to have to worry about some prefetched stuff you didn’t know was there landing you in hot water, especially in the “guilty until proven innocent” manner criminal court juries tend to operate.

Torrents, private emails, and other things that aren’t necessarily illegal at all (yet definitely deserve to be kept private) are stored in your browser cache, too. Even if you’re not concerned about the remnants of the virus you just got quarantined having opened questionable websites for you, you might not want copies of your email to your boss with whom you’re having an affair being found by your nosy significant other, or you might have caught your kids downloading something they shouldn’t have using BitTorrent and want to make sure records of their faux pas isn’t floating about in the browser cache for the next few months.

Then there’s the technical aspect: more files on disk is generally a bad thing, because a folder with 5,000 entries is far slower to search through for one file than a folder with 100 entries (or no folders at all). Wouldn’t it be awesome to alleviate both the paranoid legal risk as well as speed up your browser and prevent it from polluting your hard drive with thousands of files you don’t care about? If you use Mozilla Firefox, it’s actually somewhat simple to turn off prefetching and disk caching once you know how. Note that memory caching is still in place, so you do still have the speed benefits of caching; note also that memory caching can still end up in your paging file, so this isn’t a 100% foolproof thing, but in terms of eliminating risk it’s a huge leap forward.

  1. Open Firefox. Go to the address bar, type about:config and hit [Enter].
  2. It might warn you not to play around. Click “I’ll be careful, I promise!”
  3. Type “prefetch” into the search box. You should see an option called “network.prefetch-next” which you can double-click to change to “false.”
  4. Search for “cache.disk” this time. Change “browser.cache.disk.enable” to “false” and change “browser.cache.disk.capacity” to “0.”
  5. Close and re-open Firefox.
  6. Hit [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Delete] to bring up the “Clear Recent History” box. Change your time range to “Everything” and make sure “Cache” is checked. This erases the entire disk cache.
  7. For the really paranoid, install CCleaner (don’t install anything else it offers to install while you do it), find the “Wipe Free Space” option at the bottom of the left column, right-click on it, and choose “clean.” (It might warn you that it’s going to delete stuff, but proceed anyway.) This erases the contents of all of the empty space on the hard drive, including anything that was in the disk cache you just deleted and anything that has ever been deleted from the computer.
  8. [Update for newer Firefox versions] Firefox stores thumbnails of pages you visit for the new “New Tab” page previews. To get rid of this while you’re in about:config, right-click somewhere and go to New -> Boolean, call it browser.pagethumbnails.capturing_disabled and set it to true. Restart Firefox and no more behind-your-back thumbnails.

While you’re at it, you might want to install NoScript and Adblock Plus, and learn how to use them to protect against these things landing on your browser in the first place, but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Happy faster browsing, and tell your boss in your next email that I’ll see her this weekend. 😉 xoxo