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I turn my Linux computer off and when I turn it on it runs disk check (fsck) on hard disk. Why?

A typical question asked by many new Linux users. The answer is pretty simple:

Your partitions are not being unmounted properly when you last shutdown the Linux desktop. Linux needs to shutdown properly (I’m sure this applies to Windows and Mac OS too) before powered off. If you skip this step there could be data loss.

If you are using text based session (CLI), type following command as privileged user:
shutdown -h now
OR
halt

If you are using GUI (KDE / Gnome or any other Windows Manager) click on System > Quit button. Look out for shutdown button.

Do not unplug the power supply. Also use UPS (Uninterruptible power supply) to protect data and to avoid other problems. I recommend APC ups for continuous supply of electric power.

Updated for accuracy.

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • shawn September 13, 2007, 1:16 pm

    you can also adjust file ext2/ext3 system parameters on partitions via tune2fs.

    if you regularly turn off your pc, and you leave the file system defaults, the drives will fsck on a routine schedule (e.g. every 30 mounts or 120 days…).

    “man tune2fs” to learn more.

  • Jonathan Arnold September 13, 2007, 2:52 pm

    Not ‘-r’ but rather ‘-h’. -r does a reboot, while -h does a halt, which should power your computer down.

  • Artem Nosulchik September 13, 2007, 3:03 pm

    Shawn, you’re exactly right. Here is a useful link how to change maximum mounts count value for filesystem: Set up mount count after system will be checked by e2fsck.

  • nixCraft September 13, 2007, 3:52 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for pointing out small issue.

    Shawn, correct, but I don’t think so new user is going to play with that option.

    Artem, thanks for sharing tutorial.

  • speedygeo September 14, 2007, 2:59 am

    How can I shutdown properly an external harddrive partition with reiserfs?

  • arunanchal September 14, 2007, 6:41 am

    i think the poweroff command work well

  • be4truth September 14, 2007, 6:59 am

    In Ubuntu it does routine checks every 30 mounts even if you shut down properly for maintenance.

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