Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Solving Ubuntu full disk problem related to SBackup

OK, so today I came to my office finding that somehow my Wubi Ubuntu installation had somehow filled up completely. There was absolutely no disk space left, and because of this, the whole system was so slow that it was unusable. Not really realizing how this could have happened, I tried to reboot. The log-in screen now looked different, and there was a warning about power management not being set correctly. When I tried to log in, the screen only blinked, before the log-in screen appeared again.

Getting pretty frustrated at this point, I started looking through forum threads for posts on similar problems. I found several tips on cleaning up a full partition, all of which involved getting into "terminal mode" by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F1 at the login screen. This made me able to browse through different folders, and check the disk usage using the command du, but I still couldn't figure out why the disk had filled up.

Eventually, I found this forum thread which suggested that the backup program that I use, Simple Backup (or SBackup) may have been saving backup files on my laptop's internal hard drive rather than the intended external drive. A blog post by rvdavid confirmed that several people have had this issue.

My external drive is called "Martins Backup", and when it is connected, it is usually mounted to /media/Martins Backup. It turns out that the backup program kept saving files to /media/Martins Backup EVEN WHEN IT WAS NOT CONNECTED (sorry about that), effectively storing them to the internal drive. Investigating this further, I found 20 GB worth of backup files clogging up the system. Luckily, they are all gone now, my Ubuntu system works as usual, and I'm changing my backup program as soon as I find a suitable alternative. Puh! :-)


Martin H. Skjelvareid said...

A little addition to this story: When I first deleted the backup files, I had to do so as superuser (I did it in Nautilus), and afterwards there didn't seem to be any more free space than before? What the f***? Turns out that the files were just moved to the "root trash", in /root/.local/share/Trash, and that I had to manually delete them from there (using the terminal).

Anonymous said...

thanks for this. completely solved an issue i was having. we get a lot of power surges / spikes here and even the surge protector / ups doesn't always help... i guess one or both of my usb backup destinations didn't get remounted properly, so the backups were going to the (tiny!) 30gb hard drive... filled it in no time :-S

i disconnected both drives, did an rm -rf on everything and was back to 3% usage

not before i ordered a new pc from amazon though


Martin H. Skjelvareid said...

Glad to be of help! :)

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