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I have a cron-scheduled backup task, that writes to a USB drive. (It's a SATA drive stuck in an external dock that is connected to my machine via USB.)

This usually auto-mounts at /media/backups (since "backups" is the partition label for the single partition on the drive.)

My problem is that it isn't always mounted. It's always physically connected, but on a fairly regular basis, the mount point isn't there. When I'm logged in, it's always mounted and visible, but when the background process is running, it sometimes isn't.

Any ideas as to why this might be?

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I don't know why, but I have the same problem. I work around it by checking it is mounted and mounting if it isn't. – Richard Holloway Sep 27 '10 at 21:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you're not in the mood to hand-edit your /etc/fstab file, I'd suggest trying out PySDM to define the rules for mounting your external drive on a regular basis. It can be installed by installing the "pysdm" package in Synaptic, or by searching the Ubuntu Software Center for "pysdm". Once installed, it is available under the System --> Administration --> Storage Device Manager..

PySDM in action

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I'm not sure, but I think the mounting is done by userland (that is, it's mounted only after you log in). You can workaround this bug by doing system level mounting, just add the drive to /etc/fstab:

UID=ABCDEF1234567890   /mnt/backups        ntfs-3g         umask=000               0       0

you can get the UUID of the partition using blkid:

blkid /dev/sda1
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