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My regularly monthly corruption of my drobo ext3 linux means I have fsck -f -y the device but I'm getting the message above a few hours into the process. Anyone know what that means?

I expect that it is a consequence of the regular corruption, for which I have no diagnosis, but which could be anything from linux fs bugs (unlikely), linux usb, pc hardware, cable, drobo hardware, drobo fs bugs (more likely imho).

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Perhaps it is being corrupted during the fsck, causing inconsistent state. Needless to say, I think your drive probably has serious problems. I would replace it if you can.

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  • it's a drobo - a hardware virtualised drive above multiple drives, so individual drive errors are not available and the drobo is expected to report failures. However, all it's blinkenlights are green. There's no decent admin info as it is intended to be hands off. – dajobe Jun 20 '09 at 22:32
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It means literally what you think it means. The fsck, for whatever reason, decides that it needs to start over from the very beginning, perhaps its internal state got confused or it made some change to the partition that necessitates starting over.

What other messages do you see right before you get that message?

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  • the messages were "regular" invalid block fixes in the first stage of e2fsck. screen(1) has unfortunately lost the scrollback for me. – dajobe Jun 20 '09 at 22:34
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This is a major misfeature of e2fsck. When it encounters serious inconsistency during one stage it will start the repair from the beginning.

That is one of the reasons why I switched to Reiserfs years ago and later to XFS.

However you should not need to do this repair often. If you do then you should investigate why.

  • If it is a hardware problem you can use smartmontools to diagnose S.M.A.R.T. problems.
  • Kernel messages (dmesg) can also help to find the cause.

UPDATE: After re-reading your comments I have something to add. Someone had bad luck with this device (search for drobo inpage or scroll down). I can be worth to make a full backup.

You can still try to directly connect these disk to you PC and inspect them with 'smartctl'. As far as you just use smartctl there will be no data loss.

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