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I'm using Sony Xperia Z3 and used File Commander to browse and found that I kept running out of space because of a 4GB thumbnail/preview file/folder that grows rather quickly.

I tried deleting the folder, but after deleting the folder, I saw that no space was freed and it was still there. So I tried moving the folder to my SD card which resulted in 4GB of space taken up on my SD card and no space freed.

I don't think I can find the thumbnail preview folder anymore, but I think new files are building up because I'm running out of space again.

Does anyone know what's going on?.

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The .thumbnails folder has a file of the format .thumbdata4* whose size is shown to be really big usually. But in reality, it's not a big file and it's size is shown as such is because it's not a normal file.

It's a sparse file and its real size can be seen using du command from a terminal emulator. ls shows the file size from it's metadata like most tools do and it'll be a big number.

On my phone, it looks like this:

/storage/emulated/0/DCIM/.thumbnails $ du -h .thumbdata4--1967290299    
172K    .thumbdata4--1967290299 

/storage/emulated/0/DCIM/.thumbnails $ ls -alh .thumbdata4--1967290299                                                                  
-rw-rw---- 1 root sdcard_rw 11G 2020-07-30 19:18 .thumbdata4--1967290299

So it's actually a small file, and you don't have to worry about it's size.

See the size difference. ls shows size to be 11GB while du shows it to be only 172KB.

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Thumbnail folder is automatically created by android. It helps android to open pictures from gallery in a faster way. Even if you delete the folder, android keeps on recreating it.

Although there is a work around it. You can create a text file and save it with extension .thumbnail. Now replace .thumbnail folder with .thumbnail file.

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It should be a comment but It seems I have enough reputation yet.

I have no knowledge how the space is taken, but echo -en > .thumbnailsX-xxx (*Anyone trying this should do it at your own risk. *) DOES set the size to zero and total free partition space LOOKS increased, while simply deleting files can't.

An educated guess would be these files are located somewhere else in the filesystem tree and linked here but that is just a guess.

I came here looking for a way to locate the the deleted files and empty them, if my guess were true. If not true(say sparse file), I would be grateful if anyone can explain in detail.

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    Hi, looks like you actually have enough reputation to comment since the beginning due to the association bonus rep (+100). However, this looks like a proper answer (whether correct or not), so I don't think it should be posted as a comment instead.
    – Andrew T.
    Sep 20 '21 at 5:34

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