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SubjectRe: 2.6.0-test11 data loss
On Thu, Dec 25 at  9:34, Con Kolivas wrote:
>On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 09:22, Gergely Tamas wrote:
>> I don't think this is a reiserfs bug. This was my first thought and
>> after first hitting this bug, I've moved all my partitions from reiserfs
>> to jfs. But I've also had this problem with it... Now I'm back to
>> 2.4.23, and everything works fine.
>
>Because of the numerous reboots and hangs I've seen with experimental patches
>I've also seen this, but it's not reiserFS fault. The problem is that most
>drives have write caching enabled and not all of them are safe with this. If
>you disable it with hdparm (hdparm -W 0 /dev/hd*) you'll find that open files
>during a hard reset or power outage will prevent those open files from being
>corrupted.

Write cache off will not prevent a file from being corrupted, however,
it should limit the corruption to a single disk operation.

I don't see how the behavior you describe could be the drive's
fault...

The user stated that their system hard locked, then they went and
rebooted it, and following the reboot they had corruption... From
this, there are a few possibilities:

1. The drive had been given the commands to write the data prior to the hang.

If this was the case, the drive would happilly keep writing the data
it had been given and was caching in the background, even while you
continued to send (or stopped sending) data for a new command over the
interface. An IDE interface lockup or system lockup will not prevent
the drive from flushing the remainder of its write cache. (Only
possible exception might be faulty handling of a hard reset, but all
drives today will flush their cache when they see the reset, prior to
processing it.) Unless the user yanked power within a few hundred
milliseconds of the write command, I think it is unlikely that cached
data already in the drive wasn't flushed properly.

2. The drive was in the middle of a command writing important data
during the hang.

In this case, yes, your file you were writing would probably be
corrupt on the media, but nothing more. Drives detect power loss, and
immediately disable write-gate and park the actuator. If they don't
get the actuator parked before they run out of back-EMF from the
momentum of the platter(s), the head will stick to the media and
you'll probably need a chisel to get that drive to spin again.

3. The drive hadn't yet been issued the commands for the data that was
eventually corrupted.

I find this to be the most likely case, and is a situation where the
filesystem thinks objects were moved but those updates were not
correctly sent to the disk (due to the hang?), so it might think
they're in the old location or something. (I'm not a filesystem
wizard so if I'm way off-base, my apologies)

It seems to me that the problem occurred at a higher system level than
the disk, and disabling the write cache on the drive (besides being a
*HUGE* performance loser) will only make the window for failure
smaller, not eliminate it entirely.

Unless you are using *really* old hard drives, the write caching in
today's drives is really quite good and definitely should be usable.
Sure, it makes things less safe in power events, but system lockups
shouldn't affect the drive's ability to flush its cache. Note too
that Gergely reported that the problem went away on his 2.4.23 system.
I don't believe that to be a small data point.

--eric, posting from home

--
Eric D. Mudama
edmudama@mail.bounceswoosh.org

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