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I've copied a bunch of large media files to an external hdd connected via USB. When I try to put them back on my notebook hdd (I open nautilus and move the files in F3-mode) I get a lot of hickups and the process can never be finished for any file. Something wrong with the external hdd?

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Do you mean that files aren't transferred or does it stall right at the end and takes forever for the progress bar to go from 99% to a 100%? If its the latter, it seems to be a bug experienced by several folks. – drN Oct 28 '12 at 18:41
No the transfer starts and doesn't even get to a third before I get an error. – H3R3T1K Nov 3 '12 at 16:23
whats the error message? – drN Nov 3 '12 at 17:17
I have put an answer, but more details about the errors occurring would be helpful, and if any other error messages occur after trying to use the terminal (instead of the gui) to transfer files. – user76204 Nov 7 '12 at 17:34
We really need to know what the "hiccups" are before we can suggest any real solutions to this. A possible problem that I have seen is where the device is automounted and normal users are not give access to it (only root). Also, if it's an ext or other Linux partition and the user who wrote the files is different to the user trying to copy them. All of these a permissions problems but it would be nice to know what the error messages actually are. – fabricator4 Nov 10 '12 at 0:36
up vote 1 down vote accepted

As we discussed in the comments, it is still possible to transfer your files to your device with the terminal (instead of the gui), even when there are spaces in the device name. You can either escape it with

/media/Your\ Drive   or /media/"Your Drive"

(If you are on 12.10 the new location is /media/user/YourDrive, so please keep that in mind for the following instructions)

Then use something like rsync or gcp, as both of these have a progress bar and a verbose setting which reports the details of the transfer so you can see if any errors are occuring. As an example, rsync is particularly useful, and the command

rsync -avi --progress /home/mike/bin /media/MCADisc

which will give a detailed report about what is being transferred:

sending incremental file list
cd+++++++++ bin/
>f+++++++++ bin/Times
          74 100%    0.00kB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#1, to-check=17/19)
>f+++++++++ bin/apt_centre
         158 100%   17.14kB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#2, to-check=16/19)

sent 61751462 bytes  received 358 bytes  8233576.00 bytes/sec
total size is 61742705  speedup is 1.00

You could also use gcp if your prefer, which I have discussed here:

Both methods should transfer your files correctly or give you a good idea of what the issue is, as they give much more useful information than when you transfer files with the gui tools.

If you still cannot transfer your files correctly, then I should consider William Bell's ideas to test the filesystem integrity on your disks.

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There could be many reasons

  • The portable is corrupt - try running fsck or scandisk to check it
  • You are plugging a usb2 device into a usb1 port - use external power
  • Try copying from the terminal $ cp -uv /media/thedevice/* .
  • If the device is usb2 avoid using it on a usb3 port - I have issues before with this.
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I can't copy from the terminal because the device's name's got a space in it :( – H3R3T1K Nov 3 '12 at 16:11
/media/Expansion\ Drive doesn't work. – H3R3T1K Nov 3 '12 at 17:23
@arno Escaping names like this example does work for me, but you have to use your own device name, and you can also use quotes /media/"your device" and that will work for your commands. – user76204 Nov 4 '12 at 1:30

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