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Is the directory /cores in OSX Mountain Lion important? It's empty on my machine and has been for some time, so I was considering deleting it, but I'd like to not mess anything up.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The /cores directory is usually hidden and is used for debug information after crashes. Any files inside are probably safe to delete but it's generally a bad idea to remove any system directories. It is normal and should be present on all OS X installs.

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I suggest not deleting any Unix folders on the drive if you not wish to reinstall the OS. It might be that any function trying to access it will create it if not there but might also end in problems and errors.

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The directory fills with core dumps from programs that crash. You can freely delete any file there. Mine routinely fills up to tens of gigabytes and it is never pruned by Apple's OS. The problem is particularly bad if you have a lot of strange files that Apple's full-text search tries to index, as the indexer crashes sometimes.

m:cores root# ls -al
total 84185908
drwxrwxr-t@ 165 root  admin         5610 Nov  2 12:14 ./
drwxr-xr-x@  38 root  wheel         1360 Oct 29 09:47 ../
-r--------    1 root  admin    455827456 Nov  1 19:14 core.10438
-r--------    1 root  admin    472707072 Nov  1 22:02 core.11044
-r--------    1 root  admin    480563200 Nov  1 22:48 core.11205
-r--------    1 root  admin    482041856 Nov  1 23:14 core.11320
-r--------    1 root  admin    446390272 Oct 21 22:49 core.11890
-r--------    1 root  admin    433377280 Oct 21 23:25 core.12353
-r--------    1 root  admin    466313216 Nov  2 03:14 core.12379
-r--------    1 root  admin    472604672 Nov  2 07:15 core.13187
-r--------    1 root  admin    463785984 Oct 21 13:00 core.1338
-r--------    1 root  admin    471556096 Nov  2 11:15 core.14217
-r--------    1 root  admin    479514624 Nov  2 11:28 core.14301
-r--------    1 root  admin    471126016 Nov  2 12:15 core.14602
-r--------    1 root  admin    462118912 Oct 22 02:49 core.14965
-r--------    1 root  admin    462118912 Oct 29 03:05 core.151
-r--------    1 root  admin    462118912 Oct 29 07:06 core.1514
-r--------    1 root  admin    473223168 Oct 31 22:09 core.1561
-r--------    1 root  admin    424370176 Oct 24 18:55 core.1689
-r--------    1 root  admin    481611776 Oct 31 22:55 core.1715
-r--------    1 root  admin    473137152 Oct 31 23:12 core.1773
-r--------    1 root  admin    478896128 Oct 17 14:41 core.18380
-r--------    1 root  admin    442195968 Oct 22 06:49 core.20778
-r--------    1 root  admin    461688832 Oct 29 09:47 core.2237
-r--------    1 root  admin    460021760 Oct 13 22:30 core.22927
-r--------    1 root  admin    450584576 Oct  8 10:17 core.22982
-r--------    1 root  admin    432758784 Oct 22 10:50 core.23546
-r--------    1 root  admin    424988672 Oct 22 12:52 core.25166
-r--------    1 root  admin    426467328 Oct 22 14:50 core.26544
-r--------    1 root  admin    444911616 Oct 22 15:40 core.27100
-r--------    1 root  admin    444293120 Oct 22 18:51 core.29312
-r--------    1 root  admin    472604672 Nov  1 03:12 core.2948
-r--------    1 root  admin    451735552 Oct 22 20:03 core.30112
-r--------    1 root  admin    441147392 Oct 21 14:48 core.3082
-r--------    1 root  admin    431710208 Oct 22 22:51 core.32449
-r--------    1 root  admin    458543104 Oct 22 23:18 core.32765
-r--------    1 root  admin    449536000 Oct 24 22:55 core.3338
-r--------    1 root  admin    442814464 Oct 24 23:02 core.3383
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 23 02:52 core.35420
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 18 10:42 core.38009
-r--------    1 root  admin    456876032 Oct 23 06:52 core.38152
-r--------    1 root  admin    444911616 Oct 18 13:42 core.39400
-r--------    1 root  admin    423940096 Oct 18 14:28 core.39617
-r--------    1 root  admin    434855936 Oct 18 14:42 core.39701
-r--------    1 root  admin    433377280 Oct 18 15:02 core.39775
-r--------    1 root  admin    451633152 Oct 18 18:42 core.40785
-r--------    1 root  admin    452251648 Oct 18 20:03 core.41108
-r--------    1 root  admin    433807360 Oct 18 22:43 core.41866
-r--------    1 root  admin    449536000 Oct 29 11:06 core.41972
-r--------    1 root  admin    435474432 Oct 18 23:47 core.42169
-r--------    1 root  admin    506777600 Oct 18 23:48 core.42208
-r--------    1 root  admin    444293120 Oct 19 02:43 core.43300
-r--------    1 root  admin    469458944 Oct 29 15:06 core.43447
-r--------    1 root  admin    451633152 Oct 24 14:55 core.460
-r--------    1 root  admin    474185728 Oct 25 02:56 core.4609
-r--------    1 root  admin    468410368 Oct 23 10:52 core.46468
-r--------    1 root  admin    470507520 Oct 29 19:07 core.46612
-r--------    1 root  admin    463167488 Oct 19 06:44 core.46904
-r--------    1 root  admin    472707072 Oct 29 22:24 core.47382
-r--------    1 root  admin    473653248 Oct 29 23:07 core.47565
-r--------    1 root  admin    441765888 Oct 29 23:10 core.47580
-r--------    1 root  admin    443863040 Oct 23 12:45 core.47812
-r--------    1 root  admin    554975232 Oct 29 12:45 core.47959
-r--------    1 root  admin    442195968 Oct 19 10:44 core.48217
-r--------    1 root  admin    481525760 Oct 30 03:08 core.48759
-r--------    1 root  admin    458973184 Oct 30 07:08 core.49899
-r--------    1 root  admin    494194688 Oct 30 09:04 core.50470
-r--------    1 root  admin    453730304 Oct 19 14:44 core.52023
-r--------    1 root  admin    472604672 Oct 19 18:45 core.53500
-r--------    1 root  admin    444293120 Oct 19 22:45 core.55489
-r--------    1 root  admin    461688832 Oct 19 23:41 core.55776
-r--------    1 root  admin    474271744 Oct 29 10:29 core.55870
-r--------    1 root  admin    483090432 Oct 30 11:08 core.56570
-r--------    1 root  admin    482041856 Oct 25 10:56 core.56684
-r--------    1 root  admin    453730304 Oct 20 02:45 core.56889
-r--------    1 root  admin    455397376 Oct 30 11:51 core.56909
-r--------    1 root  admin    472174592 Oct 30 12:37 core.57069
-r--------    1 root  admin    462118912 Oct 30 15:09 core.58409
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 20 06:46 core.60775
-r--------    1 root  admin    466313216 Nov  1 07:13 core.6195
-r--------    1 root  admin    457924608 Oct 20 10:46 core.61951
-r--------    1 root  admin    451633152 Oct 23 14:53 core.62597
-r--------    1 root  admin    494194688 Oct 30 17:21 core.66351
-r--------    1 root  admin    451203072 Oct 25 12:29 core.66641
-r--------    1 root  admin    463167488 Oct 20 14:46 core.66868
-r--------    1 root  admin    434855936 Oct 25 14:57 core.67204
-r--------    1 root  admin    463167488 Oct 25 18:57 core.68182
-r--------    1 root  admin    440098816 Oct 20 18:47 core.68228
-r--------    1 root  admin    436523008 Oct 25 22:55 core.69174
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 25 22:57 core.69189
-r--------    1 root  admin    432758784 Oct 20 22:47 core.69306
-r--------    1 root  admin    462737408 Oct 25 23:41 core.69397
-r--------    1 root  admin    440717312 Oct 20 23:33 core.69526
-r--------    1 root  admin    440717312 Oct 20 23:34 core.69535
-r--------    1 root  admin    470507520 Oct 26 02:58 core.70366
-r--------    1 root  admin    478896128 Oct 21 02:47 core.70685
-r--------    1 root  admin    465264640 Nov  1 11:13 core.7141
-r--------    1 root  admin    482574336 Oct 26 06:59 core.71662
-r--------    1 root  admin    469458944 Oct 21 18:49 core.7221
-r--------    1 root  admin    463785984 Oct 15 14:05 core.72213
-r--------    1 root  admin    490000384 Nov  1 11:36 core.7244
-r--------    1 root  admin    464834560 Nov  1 12:22 core.7403
-r--------    1 root  admin    445341696 Oct 26 10:59 core.74410
-r--------    1 root  admin    431710208 Oct 21 06:48 core.74878
-r--------    1 root  admin    450154496 Oct 26 12:22 core.74934
-r--------    1 root  admin    471126016 Oct  9 14:51 core.75377
-r--------    1 root  admin    507826176 Oct 29 11:59 core.75964
-r--------    1 root  admin    465264640 Oct 31 19:11 core.760
-r--------    1 root  admin    440098816 Oct 26 14:59 core.76368
-r--------    1 root  admin    483090432 Oct 15 22:36 core.77788
-r--------    1 root  admin    460021760 Oct 26 19:00 core.77887
-r--------    1 root  admin    451203072 Oct 26 20:03 core.78261
-r--------    1 root  admin  11534659584 Nov  1 16:01 core.786
-r--------    1 root  admin    454348800 Oct 26 22:47 core.79240
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 26 23:01 core.79327
-r--------    1 root  admin    453300224 Oct 26 23:33 core.79538
-r--------    1 root  admin    424370176 Oct 25 06:56 core.8092
-r--------    1 root  admin    443244544 Oct 27 03:01 core.80929
-r--------    1 root  admin    471556096 Nov  1 15:13 core.8186
-r--------    1 root  admin    442195968 Oct 27 07:01 core.82263
-r--------    1 root  admin    480993280 Oct 30 19:09 core.83161
-r--------    1 root  admin    480993280 Oct 16 14:38 core.832
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 27 11:02 core.83587
-r--------    1 root  admin    473223168 Oct 30 20:03 core.83690
-r--------    1 root  admin    478466048 Oct 27 12:14 core.84030
-r--------    1 root  admin    462737408 Oct 30 20:57 core.84485
-r--------    1 root  admin    442195968 Oct 27 15:02 core.84987
-r--------    1 root  admin    773169152 Oct 23 16:14 core.85297
-r--------    1 root  admin    510971904 Oct 23 16:09 core.85306
-r--------    1 root  admin    445341696 Oct 16 22:38 core.8550
-r--------    1 root  admin    461688832 Oct 23 16:59 core.85538
-r--------    1 root  admin    478466048 Oct 30 22:17 core.85893
-r--------    1 root  admin    461688832 Oct 30 23:03 core.86228
-r--------    1 root  admin    482041856 Oct 30 23:10 core.86266
-r--------    1 root  admin    463167488 Oct 27 19:02 core.86459
-r--------    1 root  admin    454778880 Oct 10 10:22 core.86473
-r--------    1 root  admin    501964800 Oct 31 03:10 core.87451
-r--------    1 root  admin    433377280 Oct 27 22:40 core.87743
-r--------    1 root  admin    424370176 Oct 27 23:03 core.87877
-r--------    1 root  admin    454348800 Oct 27 23:26 core.88024
-r--------    1 root  admin    453730304 Oct 31 07:10 core.88300
-r--------    1 root  admin    469458944 Oct 31 11:11 core.89008
-r--------    1 root  admin    453300224 Oct 31 11:43 core.89105
-r--------    1 root  admin    473223168 Oct 31 12:30 core.89264
-r--------    1 root  admin    461070336 Oct 28 03:03 core.89496
-r--------    1 root  admin    452681728 Oct 31 15:11 core.89881
-r--------    1 root  admin    453300224 Oct 31 15:35 core.90019
-r--------    1 root  admin    450584576 Oct 28 07:03 core.91087
-r--------    1 root  admin    463167488 Oct 23 18:53 core.92044
-r--------    1 root  admin    462118912 Oct 23 22:53 core.93200
-r--------    1 root  admin    453300224 Oct 23 23:10 core.93276
-r--------    1 root  admin    461070336 Oct 28 11:04 core.93345
-r--------    1 root  admin    445960192 Oct 28 12:06 core.93726
-r--------    1 root  admin    443863040 Oct 28 12:53 core.94012
-r--------    1 root  admin    425418752 Oct 24 02:54 core.94508
-r--------    1 root  admin    449536000 Oct 28 15:04 core.94932
-r--------    1 root  admin    506777600 Oct 28 17:15 core.95749
-r--------    1 root  admin    450584576 Oct 21 10:48 core.96347
-r--------    1 root  admin    444293120 Oct 28 19:05 core.97559
-r--------    1 root  admin    462118912 Oct 24 06:54 core.98003
-r--------    1 root  admin    450154496 Oct 28 22:32 core.98693
-r--------    1 root  admin    451633152 Oct 28 23:05 core.98836
-r--------    1 root  admin    470077440 Oct 28 23:18 core.98899
-r--------    1 root  admin    441147392 Oct 24 10:54 core.99120
-r--------    1 root  admin    433377280 Oct 24 12:37 core.99585
m:cores root# /bin/rm /cores/*
m:cores root# 
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