Data Viz Done Right

July 11, 2013

Tableau Tip: If you can’t open a Tableau workbook because of the space on your hard drive, Tableau itself may very well be at fault.


The other day I was working on a re-design of a dashboard, taking it from using extracts to using a live connection and making some other design changes that would speed the dashboard up.  Naturally I wanted both workbooks open at the same time so that I could work on the new one while maintaining all of the design of the first one.

The packaged workbook is 1.4GB, which basically never finishes downloading from Tableau Server, so you have to get the original author to give it to you on a memory stick.  That’s another problem for another day.  I opened the workbook and saved it under another name so that I would have two copies.  Great!

Then I need to open the original workbook again so that I could see them together.  Then…POOF!…Tableau couldn’t open the workbook because it said I didn’t have enough space on my hard drive.  Huh?  How can I not have enough space if I was able to save the workbook and I clearly have space on my hard drive?

With a bit of research, I was able to locate a TableauTemp folder I never knew existed. It’s located here: C:\Users\<your_name>\AppData\Local\Temp\TableauTemp

Low and behold, there are tons and tons of folders and files in the folder, which totaled over 16GB.  Seriously!  Go ahead, check yours.

Here’s a Powershell script that Mike Roberts of InterWorks sent me to quick calculate the size of the TableauTemp folder.  Copy this code and run it via Powershell and then vote in the poll below.  To run it: Hit Windows+R, type in Powershell, hit OK, right-click to paste the code, then hit Enter.

$tableauStuff = "$env:temp\TableauTemp"
Get-ChildItem -Path $tableauStuff -Recurse -Force -ea 0 |
Measure-Object -Property Length -Sum |
ForEach-Object {
  $sum = $_.Sum / 1MB
"$tableauStuff is {0:N2} MB" -f $sum

How large is your TableauTemp folder?

I cleaned my temp folder up on July 5th and these are all of the files that Tableau has created since then.  Imagine how many files were in there before I cleaned it up.  It took over 10 minutes to delete all of the temporary files.


Here’s what you need to know: When you open a packaged workbook, Tableau unpackages the whole thing, even the data.  Here’s an example.

  1. I opened a packaged workbook that is 8.6MB.

  2. I then went into the TableauTemp folder and now I see this folder, which is 27.6MB.

  3. This folder includes the workbook itself...


    …plus the data


Go ahead and open your largest packaged workbook then find that associated TableauTemp subfolder.  Check the size.  Crazy right?

That’s not where the problems end.  This is a temporary folder, so you would expect the files to be deleted once you close the Tableau workbook.  That doesn’t always happen.  I have not been able to find a pattern as to when Tableau decides to clean things up, but I’m 100% sure that it’s not cleaned up completely when you exit Tableau and I’m 100% sure that when Tableau crashes, it doesn’t clean up the mess that’s left behind.


  1. Andy, to my surprise Tableau's been cleaning up stuff real good...

    1. That's good. I suspect it'e because of the crashes I run into, especially when trying to cancel a query that's running and you get sick of waiting hours for Tableau to roll it back.

  2. You can also right-click on the Folder in Windows Explorer and choose Properties to see the size. Or use Treesize, a great little freeware app.

    297MB on my hard-drive Andy. Good tip though if things are getting out of hand.

    1. I think this is a Tableau 8 issue. Anyone that has 7 that I've asked to check has not had this problem.

    2. I spoke to our Dev team - they think this is related to crashes. Tableau should clean up and the only reason we know of that would stop the clean up would be following a crash.

  3. 1.7 Gb... And Appdata is a hidden folder, and TableauTemp was under Temp2 for some reason.