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Is your Chrome bigger than mine? How Chrome ate 21GB of storage

I’ve been playing with the macOS Sierra Golden Master for a few days and ran into the new storage optimization app that is now included in macOS. It prompted me that I was running low on disk space, and displayed the following dialog. The first item on the list was a bit shocking:

chrome-21gb

How could Chrome be using 21GB of my precious SSD space?!

I quickly looked at the configuration for Chrome’s cache, which was fine. Then I jumped on Google and found the problem. Chrome had not been deleting previous versions of itself after automatic updates. I had versions 14.0.835.202, with a creation date of September 29th 2011, all the way to 53.0.2785.116, which was a couple of days old. That’s a lot of Chrome!

so-much-chrome

Turns out this is a known issue, but getting a fix out, or at the very least prompting the user about a problem, has been dragging along for years. The root of this sneaky bug is bad permissions on one file, that’s preventing the updater to work correctly.

chrome-perms

Silent errors make for great user experience!

I’m happily walking away from this with an extra 21GB in my pocket! And now I ask you: is your Chrome bigger than mine?

 

UPDATE: To be fair to the Chrome devs, I should point out that, according to the bug report linked above, the permissions problem is caused by 3rd party plugin installers that run as root and modify the Chrome application bundle. They mention DivX as the probable culprit, which makes sense since I had Chrome versions dating back to 2011. This leaves the question of how Chrome should deal with the situation. I think anything from a warning to a privilege elevation prompt would be much better than a silent failure.

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