Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


check and repair a Linux filesystem

see also : mkfs - fsck.ext2 - fsck.ext3 - e2fsck - fsck.minix - fsck.msdos - fsck.nfs - fsck.vfat


fsck [-lsAVRTMNP] [-C [fd]] [-t fstype] [filesys...] [--] [fs-specific-options]

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What is the difference between fsck and e2fsck?

fsck is just the original name. When they came out with new file systems they would need a specific tool for each one, efsck for ext, e2fsck for ext2, dosfsck, fsckvfat. So they made fsck the front end that just calls whichever is the appropriate tool.


fsck an ntfs drive in Linux

Yes. This is handled by fsck on recent releases. If the partition is not listed in /etc/fstab, then you will likely need to tell it the partition type. I've used this from a Linux CD to recover a partition Windows wouldn't boot from.


fsck: Options for most thorough disk check

You want the -f option to fsck (Force checking even if the file system seems clean.)

You should run fsck in single user mode. One easy way to do this without a live cdrom boot is to reboot with the -F option.

shutdown -rF now

break out of e2fsck on boot

While it does not directly address your question of how to abort a running fsck, if you know in advance that you will need a fast boot (such as if you are planning to give a presentation) then you can certainly run fsck manually at some earlier time. This will give you a new 30 days before the next automated file system check without touching any system configuration.


How do I prevent a memory card from mounting as read-only in Ubuntu Linux?

I ran sudo fsck -a ... on the offending device. After fixing the file system corruption it mounts read-write. I had the problem again, and fixed it again with fsck. Will have to be more careful about always ejecting properly.


Filesystem corruption (?) and appropriate use of fsck

The RAID system (MD) knows nothing about the filesystem, so if it fails to rebuild it's not because of filesystem corruption, but more likely due to hardware error. Possibly one of your disks failing. Check for S.M.A.R.T.-errors using smartmontools and run a self-test.

When you run fsck -yf, this will try its best to fix the filesystem and in the process it may delete problematic inodes (files) (some files may be moved to the lost+found folder). Maybe the boxes you saw on graphical login was due to required files that were deleted by fsck. Not being able to log in via console or SSH may also point to missing files. Are you able to get shell access if you boot to recovery mode? You could attempt to fix things by restoring OS-files from backup, or force reinstalling software packages.

However, at this point, maybe changing the disks and do a clean reinstall would be better.


Ext3 drive will not mount after power failure; how to recover files?

Backtrack is a linux distro that comes packaged with a host of tools for things like this. It is also, however, aimed squarely at the upper echelon of power users. Their website may have some good tutorials for using their tools, so that may be of use to you.


Can't recover hard drive

It looks like your partition table got screwed up. Since you have a disk larger than 2TB, you need to use GPT, but fdisk thinks the disk is using a dos partition table. You will need to create a new gpt disk label and recreate the partition using the full space, and finally fsck it.


Hard drive partition size wrong. How do I resize without loss of data?

You can use Gparted which can do this job very easily and you will not lost your data any way.

The best way to access all of the features of the GParted application is by using the GParted Live bootable image. GParted Live enables you to use GParted on GNU/Linux as well as other operating systems, such as Windows or Mac OS X.


Why does linux check disks during boot instead of shutdown?

Yes, but only every so often. It is configurable how many boots (or time) have to elapse until the next check.

I guess you would have to wait also at shutdown, and may be you would be eager to go home far more than you are eager to start working at boot time -:)


Does the number of files affect fsck's performance?

That depends on the file system and the switches you use with fsck.

What fsck Checks and Tries to Repair gives a pretty detailed explanation of what fsck does when invoked without switches.

Some of the checks take a constant amount of time (e.g., super block check), many of them depend on the number of inodes fsck has to process (e.g., link count checks), others on the file system's size (e.g., regular data block checks).

Without the -c switch, fsck does not check the contents of regular files, so the size of the files is irrelevant. Even when checking for bad blocks, the execution time only increases with the file system's size. Which portion of the of the partition is occupied does not affect the execution time.1

The number of inodes of a file system is constant, i.e., decided upon at creation time. Each file's metadata is stored in one of such inodes. According to ext4, unused inodes are marked as such in ext4, but not in ext3. Thus, fsck's execution time increases with the file count in ext4, but is constant (and high) in ext3.

The following figure illustrates this:


Observe that the different file counts are represented by different colors. The graphs for ext3 with 2.1 million, 100 thousand and even zero files are identical. The graph for ext4 with 2.1M and 100k files respectively show a significant difference.

In contrast, execution time increases with the number of inodes with ext3, while unused inode do not impact execution time with ext4.

1 Verified empirically by running fsck -c on an empty partition.


Is it safe to disable fsck on boot?

I wouldn't. You can disable it if you have a policy for manually running fsck periodically, and use a fully journaling file system, but otherwise it is important for long term file system health. With boot checking disabled, you will only have fsck run automatically if your journal is marked as dirty, but it will not do things like bad sector checks, or manually look for file system issues that have not already been recorded.


Prevent e2fsck from running out of memory?

I'm not sure which version of e2utils Ubuntu 11.10 has, however if it's fairly recent you can create /etc/e2fsck.conf file with something like this:

directory = /tmp/e2fs_scratch

Create that directory first, then run e2fsck. Using scratch file will greatly reduce memory use, however e2fsck will run very very slowly.

Of course if you need to check your root fs, you'll need to boot into another root, as the scratch directory will need to be writable.


Perform bad blocks scan on root partition in Linux

See Can I run fsck or e2fsck when Linux file system is mounted?, which notes that running any fsck on a mounted filesystem can result in disk or data corruption.

It suggests the following solutions:

A. Take down system to single user mode, unmount system, then run e2fsck

init 1
umount /dev/sda
e2fsck -y /dev/sda3

B. Boot from the installation CD into rescue mode

boot: linux rescue nomount<br/>
mknod /dev/sda
mknod /dev/sda3
fsck /dev/sda3

Another solution would be to use fsck to check the entire disk (except swap) on boot time, as root:

shutdown -Fr now

where -F stands for force fsck check and -r for reboot.


fsck is used to check and optionally repair one or more Linux filesystems. filesys can be a device name (e.g. /dev/hdc1, /dev/sdb2), a mount point (e.g. /, /usr, /home), or an ext2 label or UUID specifier (e.g. UUID=8868abf6-88c5-4a83-98b8-bfc24057f7bd or LABEL=root). Normally, the fsck program will try to handle filesystems on different physical disk drives in parallel to reduce the total amount of time needed to check all of them.

If no filesystems are specified on the command line, and the -A option is not specified, fsck will default to checking filesystems in /etc/fstab serially. This is equivalent to the -As options.

The exit code returned by fsck is the sum of the following conditions:


- No errors


- Filesystem errors corrected


- System should be rebooted


- Filesystem errors left uncorrected


- Operational error


- Usage or syntax error


- Fsck canceled by user request


- Shared-library error

The exit code returned when multiple filesystems are checked is the bit-wise OR of the exit codes for each filesystem that is checked.

In actuality, fsck is simply a front-end for the various filesystem checkers (fsck.fstype) available under Linux. The filesystem-specific checker is searched for in /sbin first, then in /etc/fs and /etc, and finally in the directories listed in the PATH environment variable. Please see the filesystem-specific checker manual pages for further details.



Lock the whole-disk device by an exclusive flock(2). This option can be used with one device only (this means that -A and -l are mutually exclusive). This option is recommended when more fsck (8) instances are executed in the same time. The option is ignored when used for multiple devices or for non-rotating disks. fsck does not lock underlying devices when executed to check stacked devices (e.g. MD or DM) -- this feature is not implemented yet.


Serialize fsck operations. This is a good idea if you are checking multiple filesystems and the checkers are in an interactive mode. (Note: e2fsck(8) runs in an interactive mode by default. To make e2fsck(8) run in a non-interactive mode, you must either specify the -p or -a option, if you wish for errors to be corrected automatically, or the -n option if you do not.)

-t fslist

Specifies the type(s) of filesystem to be checked. When the -A flag is specified, only filesystems that match fslist are checked. The fslist parameter is a comma-separated list of filesystems and options specifiers. All of the filesystems in this comma-separated list may be prefixed by a negation operator ’no’ or ’!’, which requests that only those filesystems not listed in fslist will be checked. If none of the filesystems in fslist is prefixed by a negation operator, then only those listed filesystems will be checked.

Options specifiers may be included in the comma-separated fslist. They must have the format opts=fs-option. If an options specifier is present, then only filesystems which contain fs-option in their mount options field of /etc/fstab will be checked. If the options specifier is prefixed by a negation operator, then only those filesystems that do not have fs-option in their mount options field of /etc/fstab will be checked.

For example, if opts=ro appears in fslist, then only filesystems listed in /etc/fstab with the ro option will be checked.

For compatibility with Mandrake distributions whose boot scripts depend upon an unauthorized UI change to the fsck program, if a filesystem type of loop is found in fslist, it is treated as if opts=loop were specified as an argument to the -t option.

Normally, the filesystem type is deduced by searching for filesys in the /etc/fstab file and using the corresponding entry. If the type can not be deduced, and there is only a single filesystem given as an argument to the -t option, fsck will use the specified filesystem type. If this type is not available, then the default filesystem type (currently ext2) is used.


Walk through the /etc/fstab file and try to check all filesystems in one run. This option is typically used from the /etc/rc system initialization file, instead of multiple commands for checking a single filesystem.

The root filesystem will be checked first unless the -P option is specified (see below). After that, filesystems will be checked in the order specified by the fs_passno (the sixth) field in the /etc/fstab file. Filesystems with a fs_passno value of 0 are skipped and are not checked at all. Filesystems with a fs_passno value of greater than zero will be checked in order, with filesystems with the lowest fs_passno number being checked first. If there are multiple filesystems with the same pass number, fsck will attempt to check them in parallel, although it will avoid running multiple filesystem checks on the same physical disk.

fsck does not check stacked devices (RAIDs, dm-crypt, ...) in parallel with any other device. See below for FSCK_FORCE_ALL_PARALLEL setting. The /sys filesystem is used to detemine dependencies between devices.

Hence, a very common configuration in /etc/fstab files is to set the root filesystem to have a fs_passno value of 1 and to set all other filesystems to have a fs_passno value of 2. This will allow fsck to automatically run filesystem checkers in parallel if it is advantageous to do so. System administrators might choose not to use this configuration if they need to avoid multiple filesystem checks running in parallel for some reason --- for example, if the machine in question is short on memory so that excessive paging is a concern.

fsck normally does not check whether the device actually exists before calling a filesystem specific checker. Therefore non-existing devices may cause the system to enter filesystem repair mode during boot if the filesystem specific checker returns a fatal error. The /etc/fstab mount option nofail may be used to have fsck skip non-existing devices. fsck also skips non-existing devices that have the special filesystem type auto

-C [ fd ]

Display completion/progress bars for those filesystem checkers (currently only for ext2 and ext3) which support them. Fsck will manage the filesystem checkers so that only one of them will display a progress bar at a time. GUI front-ends may specify a file descriptor fd, in which case the progress bar information will be sent to that file descriptor.


Do not check mounted filesystems and return an exit code of 0 for mounted filesystems.


Don’t execute, just show what would be done.


When the -A flag is set, check the root filesystem in parallel with the other filesystems. This is not the safest thing in the world to do, since if the root filesystem is in doubt things like the e2fsck(8) executable might be corrupted! This option is mainly provided for those sysadmins who don’t want to repartition the root filesystem to be small and compact (which is really the right solution).


When checking all filesystems with the -A flag, skip the root filesystem. (This is useful in case the root filesystem has already been mounted read-write.)


Don’t show the title on startup.


Produce verbose output, including all filesystem-specific commands that are executed.


Options which are not understood by fsck are passed to the filesystem-specific checker. These arguments must not take arguments, as there is no way for fsck to be able to properly guess which options take arguments and which don’t.

Options and arguments which follow the -- are treated as filesystem-specific options to be passed to the filesystem-specific checker.

Please note that fsck is not designed to pass arbitrarily complicated options to filesystem-specific checkers. If you’re doing something complicated, please just execute the filesystem-specific checker directly. If you pass fsck some horribly complicated options and arguments, and it doesn’t do what you expect, don’t bother reporting it as a bug. You’re almost certainly doing something that you shouldn’t be doing with fsck.

Options to different filesystem-specific fsck’s are not standardized. If in doubt, please consult the man pages of the filesystem-specific checker. Although not guaranteed, the following options are supported by most filesystem checkers:


Automatically repair the filesystem without any questions (use this option with caution). Note that e2fsck(8) supports -a for backward compatibility only. This option is mapped to e2fsck’s -p option which is safe to use, unlike the -a option that some filesystem checkers support.


For some filesystem-specific checkers, the -n option will cause the fs-specific fsck to avoid attempting to repair any problems, but simply report such problems to stdout. This is however not true for all filesystem-specific checkers. In particular, fsck.reiserfs(8) will not report any corruption if given this option. fsck.minix(8) does not support the -n option at all.


Interactively repair the filesystem (ask for confirmations). Note: It is generally a bad idea to use this option if multiple fsck’s are being run in parallel. Also note that this is e2fsck’s default behavior; it supports this option for backward compatibility reasons only.


For some filesystem-specific checkers, the -y option will cause the fs-specific fsck to always attempt to fix any detected filesystem corruption automatically. Sometimes an expert may be able to do better driving the fsck manually. Note that not all filesystem-specific checkers implement this option. In particular fsck.minix(8) and fsck.cramfs(8) do not support the -y option as of this writing.


The fsck command is part of the util-linux package and is available from

environment variables

The fsck program’s behavior is affected by the following environment variables:

If this environment variable is set, fsck will attempt to check all of the specified filesystems in parallel, regardless of whether the filesystems appear to be on the same device. (This is useful for RAID systems or high-end storage systems such as those sold by companies such as IBM or EMC.) Note that the fs_passno value is still used.


This environment variable will limit the maximum number of filesystem checkers that can be running at one time. This allows configurations which have a large number of disks to avoid fsck starting too many filesystem checkers at once, which might overload CPU and memory resources available on the system. If this value is zero, then an unlimited number of processes can be spawned. This is currently the default, but future versions of fsck may attempt to automatically determine how many filesystem checks can be run based on gathering accounting data from the operating system.


The PATH environment variable is used to find filesystem checkers. A set of system directories are searched first: /sbin, /sbin/fs.d, /sbin/fs, /etc/fs, and /etc. Then the set of directories found in the PATH environment are searched.


This environment variable allows the system administrator to override the standard location of the /etc/fstab file. It is also useful for developers who are testing fsck.



see also

fstab, mkfs , fsck.ext2 or fsck.ext3 or e2fsck , cramfsck, fsck.minix , fsck.msdos , fsck.jfs, fsck.nfs , fsck.vfat , fsck.xfs, fsck.xiafs, reiserfsck.


Theodore Ts’o (tytso[:at:]mit[:dot:]edu)

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