Let's straighten out terminology first. What you are referring to is not the Disk Cache, but rather the Media Cache used to index and conform compressed media. One is persistent, the other is not. The disk cache is only used for storing RAM previewed frames overflow and is purged every time you quit AE. The media cache on teh otehr hand, is never purged unless you do so manually. That can be done from AE, Premiere Pro, Encore and Adobe Media Encoder, which share this folder because it is part of MediaCore and DynamicLink. Because they share it, it makes sense it is persistent - you wouldn't wanna have to re-conform e.g. MPEG-2 or AVCHD files every time you open a project in one of those programs. Ergo, the cache as such can grow infinitely large. Whether this is desirable is another question, but the current behavior is "as designed", so you need to manually purge from time to time.
Thanks for your quick response but I'm fairly confident that I really am talking about the disk cache. I'll tell you what I'm looking at in my settings and then you can straighten me out
In my Media and Disk cache preferences I have options for Disk Cache and for Conformed Media Cache.
My Disk Cache is located at D:\Temp. I have checked enabled disk cache and set a maximum size of 10240 MB
My Database for the Media Cache is located in C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Common
My Cache for the Media Cache is located at D:\Adobe\Media Cache
When I start After Effects five folders are created in my Disk Cache folder (D:\Temp) which I've set a maximum size for) under a subfolder which is named after my computer name. The folders are named based on the process ID of After Effects instance. One of those five folders grew larger than the limit I set for it, which seems weird to me since all the other ones worked properly.
I didn't have any issues with the directories for my Media Cache cache/database folder locations
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I see. The thing is, the cache you are seeing may be from some sort of pre-comp that by itself references other pre-comps. AE's cache is layer-based, so under some circumstances, it will create a file for each of the layered (nested comps), if it thinks it cannot render them fast enough when needed. In essence it is correctly respecting the limit for the parent comp, but needs to take along everything used in it, so the actual folder gets several times bigger. Another scenario where I have experienced such behavior, is if you mix sources with different color profiles, especially in 32bpc mode. In these cases AE seems to try to retain the converted frames for calculating effects faster. This only happens on systems with low memory (2GB or less), though, for apparent reasons.
Ok, that makes sense. I did have precomps referencing other precomps (scaling, color correction, etc). One of my precomps didn't have any effects applied to it. I tried something and then just removed the effect and didn't undo the precomp. I'm assuming that would just exasperate my situation? Would it make a difference if I had applied an effect in that precomp at all?
So what are my best options? Should I turn off disk caching or should I just reduce it's maximum size?
Well, when you turn it off, it definitely goes away. When it's on, it may be possible to minimize the disk usage, but to my recollection, you can't go below 768 MB, anyway, so this point may be moot. Effects or not should not influence the situation. The real problem at the heart is, theat even without effects, layers in pre-comps need to be "blended" to mix in transparent areas, get motion blur and so on. An effect would change the result, but not eliminate the source, so it's a lose/lose situation - if the cache is on, a frame may be stored, if the comp is complex to render, but in some situations even with effects applied no frame may be stored, because it still can be calculated in near realtime. It's really a bit complex to wrap your head around, as the whole concept is quite deep. Ultimately, you only know when you try...
Sounds good! Thanks for the direction!