Cleaning your temporary files directory

Your Temporary Files directory (called Temp-directory in your site's Global Configuration page) is the directory where Joomla! and its extensions put all transient files when installing software or performing other kinds of file manipulation activities. One problem with that directory is that sometimes files can get stuck in it, for example after a failed update. This not only causes a space problem —as these files take up valuable disk space— but can also compromise your site's security as these files may contain potentially sensitive information, or may be executable PHP files. While the latter issue can be usually worked around by using the front-end protection mode in the .htaccess Maker feature of Admin Tools Professional, the proper solution is to periodically clean the contents of that directory.

Admin Tools Core and Admin Tools Professional include the Clean Temp-directory feature which will do that for you with a single click! More specifically, it will automatically remove all files and directories from your Temp-directory except index.html and .htaccess, if any of those files exists.


Admin Tools asks Joomla! to tell it where the temporary directory is located and then asks Joomla! to delete its contents. This has a couple of pitfalls:

  • Your temporary directory is what you have configured in your site's Global Configuration page, in the Temp-directory option. If you see something like tmp or /tmp in there please note that it is NOT the same as the directory inside your site named tmp. The directory inside your site is a full path which usually looks like /home/myuser/public_html/tmp.

  • If your temporary directory is outside your site's root or contains double dots (e.g. ../tmp) Joomla! will REFUSE to delete its contents. This is not a bug in Admin Tools, it's how Joomla! itself is designed to work.

  • Being able to delete the contents of the directory depends largely on its permissions. If Joomla! doesn't have browse permissions to this directory it can create temporary files just fine and delete them when it still knows their name (right after creating them), but not when Admin Tools asks it to delete the contents of the temp-directory. The reason is quite technical: Joomla! can't list the contents of the directory, therefore it can't know which files / folders it contains and as a result doesn't know what it has to delete. This is how filesystems work, not a bug in Admin Tools.

  • On some servers you may need to use Joomla!'s FTP layer to delete the contents of the temp-directory. We consider this a major indicator of a critically bad server security model. If you are hosted on such a server we strongly advise you to move to a different host or, at the very least, express your concerns to your host. Each site should run under its own user and never, ever, require the FTP layer.

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