Cache management

When you download a dataset, the processing scripts and data are stored locally on your computer. The cache allows 🤗 Datasets to avoid re-downloading or processing the entire dataset every time you use it.

This guide will show you how to:

  • Change the cache directory.

  • Control how a dataset is loaded from the cache.

  • Clean up cache files in the directory.

  • Enable or disable caching.

Cache directory

The default cache directory is ~/.cache/huggingface/datasets. Change the cache location by setting the shell environment variable, HF_DATASETS_CACHE to another directory:

$ export HF_DATASETS_CACHE="/path/to/another/directory"

When you load a dataset, you also have the option to change where the data is cached. Change the cache_dir parameter to the path you want:

>>> from datasets import load_dataset
>>> dataset = load_dataset('LOADING_SCRIPT', cache_dir="PATH/TO/MY/CACHE/DIR")

Similarly, you can change where a metric is cached with the cache_dir parameter:

>>> from datasets import load_metric
>>> metric = load_metric('glue', 'mrpc', cache_dir="MY/CACHE/DIRECTORY")

Download mode

After you download a dataset, control how it is loaded by datasets.load_dataset() with the download_mode parameter. By default, 🤗 Datasets will reuse a dataset if it exists. But if you need the original dataset without any processing functions applied, re-download the files as shown below:

>>> from datasets import load_dataset
>>> dataset = load_dataset('squad', download_mode='force_redownload')

Refer to datasets.GenerateMode for a full list of download modes.

Cache files

Clean up the cache files in the directory with datasets.Dataset.cleanup_cache_files():

#Returns the number of removed cache files
>>> dataset.cleanup_cache_files()

Enable or disable caching

If you’re using a cached file locally, it will automatically reload the dataset with any previous transforms you applied to the dataset. Disable this behavior by setting the argument load_from_cache=False in

>>> updated_dataset =, load_from_cache=False)

In the example above, 🤗 Datasets will execute the function add_prefix over the entire dataset again instead of loading the dataset from its previous state.

Disable caching on a global scale with datasets.set_caching_enabled():

>>> from datasets import set_caching_enabled
>>> set_caching_enabled(False)

When you disable caching, 🤗 Datasets will no longer reload cached files when applying transforms to datasets. Any transform you apply on your dataset will be need to be reapplied.


If you want to reuse a dataset from scratch, try setting the download_mode parameter in datasets.load_dataset() instead.

You can also avoid caching your metric entirely, and keep it in CPU memory instead:

>>> from datasets import load_metric
>>> metric = load_metric('glue', 'mrpc', keep_in_memory=True)


Keeping the predictions in-memory is not possible in a distributed setting since the CPU memory spaces of the various processes are not shared.

Improve performance

Disabling the cache and copying the dataset in-memory will speed up dataset operations. There are two options for copying the dataset in-memory:

  1. Set datasets.config.IN_MEMORY_MAX_SIZE to a nonzero value (in bytes) that fits in your RAM memory.

  2. Set the environment variable HF_DATASETS_IN_MEMORY_MAX_SIZE to a nonzero value. Note that the first method takes higher precedence.