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As we’ve seen previously, an IDB (IDA database) consists of several embedded files which contain the actual database data and which IDA reads/write directly when working with the database. By default, they’re unpacked next to the IDB, which can lead to various issues such as excessive disk usage, or speed (e.g. if IDB is on a remote or removable drive).

If you often work with external IDBs but have a fast local drive, it may be useful to set up a work directory

The setting is mentioned in ida.cfg:

Instead of editing ida.cfg directly, the recommended option is to put the changed variables into a file idauser.cfg in the user directory. This way you won’t need to redo the edits when upgrading IDA. You can also put there other settings, e.g. skippable instructions colors.

Once the config option is added, embedded files from newly opened IDBs will be unpacked into the specified directory instead of next to the IDB. This can be especially useful for cases like IDBs on remote or removable drives: even if the drive is disconnected, local files remain and IDA will continue working.

See also:

Igor’s Tip of the Week #174: IDA database (IDB) details

Igor’s tip of the week #33: IDA’s user directory (IDAUSR)

IDA Help: Configuration files