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Thread: External USB Drives

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default External USB Drives

    I have a strange problem with a Maxtor USB 500GB drive. I connected the new drive to the pc running Suse 10.3. It was detected OK and formatted with ext3. I then copied several GB of data from a networked NTFS drive (also a Maxtor USB 500GB drive). The copying seemed to go well and data was transferred.

    After rebooting the computer (with the new drive that had data copied to it from NTFS drive), the new data was missing and the drive now registered as a 2TB drive. I was able to resolve this issue by disconnecting the drive, rebooting, shutting down, connecting the drive and booting again. Magically, all data was restored and the drivewas correcty identified.

    Some days later KDE desktop froze leaving no option but to hold the power button in until the pc switched off. A file on the external drive was open at the time.

    On booting the pc, the external drive was screwed up again and this time I had to reformat the drive.

    Apologies for the long story but my questions are: are external drives inherently unreliable under linux? is the ext3 filesystem the right one to use? is there a specific way of mounting the drive?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: External USB Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by jbaratta View Post
    my questions are: are external drives inherently unreliable under linux? is the ext3 filesystem the right one to use? is there a specific way of mounting the drive?
    I am not qualified to answer your questions, but I have 4xmaxtors (external usb) and one seagate (with well over 2 terabytes of storage) , so I have some experience with external drives.

    My wife almost exclusively uses MS-Windows. I also have too many friends drop by with Windows only laptops, ... and we exchange custom dvd's of home made movies and stuff, using the external drives as a fast transfer mechanism. Hence reformatting to ext3 was not an option for me. I needed windows and Linux compatibility with my external drives. My first couple of maxtor's, I partitioned in two and reformatted to vfat (from ntfs) because the ntfs-3g driver was not out.

    As soon as I discovered the ntfs-3g driver, I kept any new external USB drives that I purchased formatted as ntfs. The external USB drives are always hotplug automated (by openSUSE) with the ntfs driver, and to get read access I need to umount, and then via konsole manually mount with the ntfs-3g driver. That is true even with 11.0 RC1.

    I had a problem once where I backed up 700GBytes of data onto an a USB external ntfs formatted maxtor, with the ntfs-3g driver, and then when I went to restore the contents with the ntfs driver, it could only see about 100MBytes of the data! My wife (I think) plugged the external USB drive into her Windows PC, and could see all 700GByte of data. We then moved the external USB drive to my Linux PC, and I mounted it with the ntfs-3g driver, and I could read all the 700GBytes of data. So clearly there can be serious read problems with the ntfs driver, and one needs to be cautious.

    I'm not a believer in ext3 for external drives (unless one is looking for added security (in which case more software is also needed)) as one loses compatibility with 90% of the computer users in the world.

    I have had (some, but very few) PC crashes with external drives attached (my cpu fan was clogged with dust) and even with files open, I did not have the problem you experienced. But again I was using vfat and ntfs formats.

    I like stability in my PC, so I stick with stable desktops, applications, ... etc .. hence no KDE-4.x.x for me for now. ...

    Apologies I can't answer your question, but you may find my experiences of interest.
    Last edited by oldcpu; 11-Jun-2008 at 23:57.

  3. #3

    Default Re: External USB Drives

    can't explain your questions/problems but i have a few external usb hard drives, only one of which is formatted to ext3 but i have had no such issues like you. the drive has been faultless, ever time i plug it in, it just works. hmmm. i would suggest showing us your fstab but i don't think this will help us understand why it is showing different volume sizes etc. im clueless. but just saying my ext3 volume is fine

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: External USB Drives

    thanks for the response oldcpu and thestig. The ntfs drive has behaved well and has been in use since 10.2. Immediately after upgrading to 10.3 I discovered that the drive was not writeable and then discovered that ntfs-3g was required. Since then, the drive has worked very well.

    The other ext3 drive is a different issue. Two serious issues and I have only had it one week!!

    oldcpu, if you don't recommend ext3, what would you suggest and what other software is needed to make it reliable?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: External USB Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by jbaratta View Post
    oldcpu, if you don't recommend ext3, what would you suggest and what other software is needed to make it reliable?
    I use ntfs format, because:
    a. it will accept large files > 2GBytes (vfat has problems with that), and
    b. it is the most common USB external hard drive format, and practically every OS has drivers that can read it.

    Once an external USB drive is mounted under Linux (independent of the file system format) it is pretty much transparent. This does mean for an ntfs drive, that the ntfs-3g driver is best used if one wishes reliable read/write permissions as a regular user.

    Hotplug auto mounting of ntfs external drives (with read/write) is still not smooth on openSUSE Linux. As noted I like stable software, but a mild annoyance with this (having to manually mount all the time to get rw on an NTFS external USB/firewire drive), and also empathy with many user complaints) eventually lead me to start of a policy of installing alpha, beta and RC1 versions of openSUSE, just so that I could ensure that an appropriate bug report was raised during the openSUSE development cycle (and if not, raise one myself). As it turned out, others felt the same, and various bug reports have been raised and consolidated (on the unsatisfactory ntfs read/write hotplug auto mounting of external drives).

    I am happy that Novell/SuSE-GmbH are actively trying to address this hotplug auto mounting of NTFS with rw. Thus far they have not been successful in smoothly implementing this. Maybe they will succeed in openSUSE-11.1 or 11.2. ...

    I don't feel qualified to recommend one format over another format, but rather I can only recommend you pick a format that works well for you. Ext3 should work ok for your external USB drives. I chose NTFS for large file size and compatibility reasons.

  6. #6
    Rikishi 42 NNTP User

    Default Re: External USB Drives

    On 2008-06-12, oldcpu <oldcpu@no-mx.forums.opensuse.org> wrote:

    > As soon as I discovered the ntfs-3g driver, I kept any new external USB
    > drivers that I purchased reformatted as ntfs. The external USB drives
    > are always hotplug automated (by openSUSE) with the ntfs driver, and to
    > get read access I need to umount, and then via konsole manually mount
    > with the ntfs-3g driver. That is true even with 11.0 RC1.


    That's because the drive is usally mounted with the old driver (ntfs).
    If you want to have them mounted r/w by default, just add the following
    link:

    cd /sbin
    sudo ln -s mount.ntfs-3g mount.ntfs


    Works for me in 10.3. Can't help you on 11.x yet.


    --
    The sand remembers once there was beach and sunshine
    but chip is warm too
    -- haiku from Effector Online, Volume 1, Number 6

  7. #7
    Rikishi 42 NNTP User

    Default Re: External USB Drives

    On 2008-06-12, jbaratta <jbaratta@no-mx.forums.opensuse.org> wrote:

    > thanks for the response oldcpu and thestig. The ntfs drive has behaved
    > well and has been in use since 10.2. Immediately after upgrading to
    > 10.3 I discovered that the drive was not writeable and then discovered
    > that ntfs-3g was required. Since then, the drive has worked very well.
    >
    > The other ext3 drive is a different issue. Two serious issues and I
    > have only had it one week!!


    Maybe you're having a hardware problem?
    I've had one USB HD formatted in ext2, so I could use it for Linux backups
    (and preserve the rights).

    There's not much point in using ext3 over ext2. But that doesn't imply it a
    bad choice.

    For any other use of USB drive, I'd use FAT. Works in allmost any situation.


    --
    The sand remembers once there was beach and sunshine
    but chip is warm too
    -- haiku from Effector Online, Volume 1, Number 6

  8. #8
    Rikishi 42 NNTP User

    Default Re: External USB Drives

    On 2008-06-12, oldcpu <oldcpu@no-mx.forums.opensuse.org> wrote:
    >
    > jbaratta;1816769 Wrote:
    >> oldcpu, if you don't recommend ext3, what would you suggest and what
    >> other software is needed to make it reliable?

    > I use ntfs format, because:
    > a. it will accept large files > 2GBytes (vfat has problems with that),
    > and
    > b. it is the most common USB external hard drive format, and
    > practically every OS has drivers that can read it.


    My choice, unless you also have to connect it to older Linux versions, or to
    a Win98 machine. In thoses cases, FAT32 is OK.

    BTW, it not > 2GB, but > 4GB -1 byte.
    And in those cases, I use RAR to split up the files in chunks of 1-2 GB,
    without compression.


    > I am happy that Novell/SuSE-GmbH are actively trying to address this
    > hotplug auto mounting of NTFS with rw. Thus far they have not been
    > successful in smoothly implementing this. Maybe they will succeed in
    > openSUSE-11.1 or 11.2. ...


    As posted in another thread, try this:

    cd /sbin
    sudo ln -s mount.ntfs-3g mount.ntfs


    It's been very stable way of getting nfts-3g, rather than ntfs, as default
    FS with hotplugged USb ntfs drives.


    --
    The sand remembers once there was beach and sunshine
    but chip is warm too
    -- haiku from Effector Online, Volume 1, Number 6

  9. #9

    Default Re: External USB Drives

    formatted to ext3 already so presumably only being connected to linux box. i have one of my drives formatted to xfs format. very good with dealing with large files.

    on first plug i had to manually mount it, but now on hot plug i have correct permissions. you could try formatting to this format, should definately work. i have it working fine on suse 10.3 and 11.0 rc1

  10. #10
    Clive Eisen NNTP User

    Default Re: External USB Drives

    thestig wrote:
    > formatted to ext3 already so presumably only being connected to linux
    > box. i have one of my drives formatted to xfs format. very good with
    > dealing with large files.

    http://www.fs-driver.org/

    --
    Clive

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