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Mint Ate My Portable HDD


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#1 Jeremy_C

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 05:23 AM

Good morning, everyone! (Except for you Oz, good evening to you!)

 

I haven't had much time for experimenting lately as I've been doing a lot of studying for some things. But something interesting happened the other day in Mint 17.3 that shocked me back to reality.

 

I was in the middle of transferring quite a few files (approximately 10 GB) from one external drive to another and at some point during the transfer an error occurred. I don't know exactly when or why it happened because I left the box unattended during the rather lengthy amount of transfer time.

 

I returned at some point to see an error message on my screen (something to the effect of) the destination drive was not found and retry, quit, etc., were my choices. Well, I'm sitting there staring at both drives, both are powered up and plugged in, and both worked about an hour ago... Okay, un-mount and eject the one that is still showing up, power both drives down, and start swapping USB plugs around (maybe a USB socket went bad or something) and even power down the box and reboot Linux. But no matter what I tried, the one drive I was transferring to just would not show up.

 

In a bit of a panic now, so I plug the "phantom" drive in to my Win 7 laptop and find out there is some sort of partition error. Run CHKDSK and fix the issue. Great, now the drive and all files show up in Win, all the files I randomly check are readable and working. Whew, dodged a bullet there!

 

Eject it from Windows and plug it back in to the Mint box and - nothing. Start trying different plugs, reboot the Mint box again, and nothing works. Finally go to System Monitor and click on the File Systems tab. I see the portable HDD there and it tells me that there is about 350 GB of free space!?!? It's a 350 GB drive (allegedly) and there are many files on there currently, so this can't be right. Swap it back to Windows, about 125 GB of space used, about 225 GB free.

 

I am officially at a loss... Does Mint not like large file transfers? Was this an error with the portable HDD? Was it another evil deed done by the gremlins that sneak in and steal just one sock every time I do laundry?

 

Is there any possible way I can I find out what happened (so I don't repeat that mistake) and/or get Linux to recognize that drive again without re-partitioning it?


A programmer's wife sends him to the store for a gallon of milk,

and she adds the instructions, "If there are eggs, buy a dozen."

The programmer goes to the store and returns home with 13 gallons of milk.


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#2 Al1000

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 05:44 AM

Good morning Jeremy,

The first thing I would do is boot up your Windows PC with a Mint DVD or bootable USB, and see if the drive in question is showing up. That would determine whether the problem is with the hardware or the software on your Mint box.

Does the drive show up if you boot your Linux box with a live Linux OS?

Edited by Al1000, 19 October 2016 - 05:45 AM.


#3 Jeremy_C

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 06:36 AM

Thanks, AI.

 

It will be just a few hours before I can test this, but I'll be back with results soon as I can.

 

(I should have thought of trying this before posting - sorry for the oversight.)


A programmer's wife sends him to the store for a gallon of milk,

and she adds the instructions, "If there are eggs, buy a dozen."

The programmer goes to the store and returns home with 13 gallons of milk.


#4 Al1000

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 06:41 AM

My question may have seemed presumptive, but I wasn't assuming you had already tried this. :)

#5 Jeremy_C

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 08:56 AM

Oh noes!!! I didn't take it that way at all. I apologize if my reply seemed off color. I was in the middle of something else and I was just replying in a hurry. :)

 

Well, I just fired up Mint from a USB on both the Win 7 laptop and the Mint box, and both times (to my utter surprise) Mint recognized the drive immediately. Me thinks we can narrow this down to the Mint box.

 

And I just switched external drives and the keyboard and my wireless mouse around a bunch of times from USB to USB, and all the USB ports seem to work fine, just the one external HDD that doesn't seem to be any different. It doesn't show up in the file manager but it still shows up in System Monitor (as empty) like before.

 

So, now I guess it's down to the software on the box for some reason. Unless there's something else I Should try... I appreciate the heads-up on trying it through with the USB because that certainly helped me narrow things down this far. Very curious why it would work from a live boot (on both machines) but not from the installed distro. Starting to fear another re-install in the near future, lol.


A programmer's wife sends him to the store for a gallon of milk,

and she adds the instructions, "If there are eggs, buy a dozen."

The programmer goes to the store and returns home with 13 gallons of milk.


#6 Al1000

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 04:10 PM

I apologize if my reply seemed off color


Not in the least. You have nothing to apologise for.

I apologise if I seemed presumptive. :)

This is strange. It sounds like the drive is not mounted. In which case, if you want to try to fix it, try mounting it from the terminal. If something is preventing it from being mounted, the terminal should hopefully give us a clue what it is.

In a terminal, type:

sudo fdisk -l

..to determine the name of the drive - hopefully it will show up with fdisk.

If it does, then try:

df -h

Is the partition listed in the output? If not, that means it's not mounted.

In which case, create a mount point:

sudo mkdir /mnt/mountpoint

Then try to mount the partition, swapping "X" for the name of the drive in the following command:

sudo mount /dev/sdX /mnt/mountpoint

So for example if the name of the partition is /dev/sdb1, you would run:

sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/mountpoint

If there is an error message, what does it say?

If no error message, try the df -h command again to see if the drive is listed.


Edited by Al1000, 19 October 2016 - 05:09 PM.


#7 Jeremy_C

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 05:24 PM

I am really starting to dislike Mint!!!!!!

 

It has this annoying habit of making me look really inept. This is the second time that it has refused to do something -- but only until I post here about it. Then, magically, the problem simply goes away... (Yes, the drive is now mounted and working.)

 

To begin, I plugged in the drive, opened Terminal, and started out with the list you gave me above. Here was the output from that:

owner@MintBox ~ $ sudo fdisk -1
[sudo] password for owner:
fdisk: invalid option -- '1'
Usage:
 fdisk [options] <disk>    change partition table
 fdisk [options] -l <disk> list partition table(s)
 fdisk -s <partition>      give partition size(s) in blocks

Options:
 -b <size>             sector size (512, 1024, 2048 or 4096)
 -c[=<mode>]           compatible mode: 'dos' or 'nondos' (default)
 -h                    print this help text
 -u[=<unit>]           display units: 'cylinders' or 'sectors' (default)
 -v                    print program version
 -C <number>           specify the number of cylinders
 -H <number>           specify the number of heads
 -S <number>           specify the number of sectors per track

Then, I figured I would just keep rolling to see what else might or might not happen. So, I typed df -h as posted above. Here's that output:

owner@MintBox ~ $ df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            3.9G  4.0K  3.9G   1% /dev
tmpfs           799M  1.5M  797M   1% /run
/dev/sda1       222G   56G  155G  27% /
none            4.0K     0  4.0K   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
none            5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none            3.9G  3.5M  3.9G   1% /run/shm
none            100M   28K  100M   1% /run/user
/dev/sdb1       299G  219G  81G   74% /media/owner/Xerxes
owner@MintBox ~ $

Well, that's certainly strange! Now it (Xerxes) is showing up!

 

Okay, let's open Computer and take a look... Voila! There it is (almost smirking at me) and working as if nothing had ever changed.

 

While I'm grateful to see the drive finally listed again, I am ready to get rid of Mint and install DOS 6.2 (if that can even be found these days) because at least I understood that way back when...

 

The only thing that changed today since this problem first happened a few days ago is that today I tried booting from a USB stick just to see if the drive would show up (which it did.) At this point I'm not sure if the USB trick did something to make the drive recognizable again or if Mint is just mocking me. (As unlikely as mockery seems, YES, I really am considering it at this point.)

 

That's twice it's done something to me (though, in all fairness, I think I was running MATE desktop with Mint the first time whereas I am now running Cinnamon.) But these mysterious errors (when they occur) are curious at best and maddening at worst. At least when an error is consistent it can usually be tracked down.

 

I really am grateful to have the drive working again and I'm grateful for your time and advice. I just wish I knew what all has happened between the weekend and today.


A programmer's wife sends him to the store for a gallon of milk,

and she adds the instructions, "If there are eggs, buy a dozen."

The programmer goes to the store and returns home with 13 gallons of milk.


#8 Al1000

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 07:31 AM

Here was the output from that:


That was supposed to be a lower case L after "fdisk" instead of the numeral 1, but it doesn't matter now.

Thanks for letting us know the drive is working again. :)

#9 Jeremy_C

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 08:10 AM

No problem on the posting the outcome. Any ideas on how or why that would happen? I'm more than a little curious about ways to prevent it from happening again. If I didn't have a Windows machine I might not have been able to recover any of the data. Now that's a scary thought (and probably the first time that's ever been said!)


A programmer's wife sends him to the store for a gallon of milk,

and she adds the instructions, "If there are eggs, buy a dozen."

The programmer goes to the store and returns home with 13 gallons of milk.


#10 Al1000

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 08:57 AM

You can actually repair Windows file systems from Linux, but if you didn't have Windows, it would be prudent to format your external drives with a Linux file system, since they are better than Windows file systems anyway. Windows file systems can't handle Linux file permissions, and they become considerably more fragmented too - which is why you always get a file system defragmenter with Windows, but never with Linux.

My first thought was that there would have been an error with the Windows file system, but you confirmed that you fixed it then plugged the drive back into your Linux box and it still wouldn't work.

I then thought perhaps you hadn't rebooted the Linux box, and there was still something waiting to be written to the external drive, and that was preventing it from being mounted properly. But I had a read of your OP again, and noted that you did reboot the Linux box before trying the external drive again.

So I have no idea why it wouldn't work, but expect that the fault would have been with the external drive rather than with Mint. Consider that Mint writes to your HDD constantly when you're using it, without such errors.

#11 Jeremy_C

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 01:08 PM

Interesting, I didn't know that about fragmentation and Linux. Definitely another plus.

 

As for the drive, I tried to look it up Google to see if I could find similar problems from other people. But my first couple links enlightened me to the fact that Toshiba quite making this drive about five or six years ago, and the company that they sold the manufacturing to went out of business shortly after acquiring that part of the of business. I didn't even bother looking any more after reading that.

 

So, I guess it could be the drive (definitely time for a new one, anyway.)

 

Well, again, I appreciate your time and your help. Thanks much!


A programmer's wife sends him to the store for a gallon of milk,

and she adds the instructions, "If there are eggs, buy a dozen."

The programmer goes to the store and returns home with 13 gallons of milk.





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