Since a few days ago, my computer freezes whenever I sync my HDD with an external USB3 drive. When the keyboard gets temporarily a bit responsive I am able to switch to another terminal (Ctrl+Alt+F2) and I see the following image repeating continuously. I am on Ubuntu 11 using LuckyBackup.

What is going on? Is my hdd defective? Is it the external one? Something else?

Many thanks!

enter image description here

  • 1
    I'd bet that your hard disk is failing. Use the Disk Utility to verity it's smart status. Feb 17, 2012 at 11:53
  • 3
    @JavierRivera Can you include a answer with instructions on how to do that? Leaving a half-answer as a comment can often cause more harm than good. Thanks. :)
    – jrg
    Feb 17, 2012 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


You need to check and see if your disks are indeed failing. There are command line tools for monitoring SMART data (which is data that the hd reports about it's own health).

sudo apt-get install smartmontools gsmartcontrol

Gsmartcontrol is a gui version of the same tool, and is very easy to use. Select the disk and run a short or long test in addition to viewing any errors the hd is reporting.

To run via the the command line, do the following

sudo smartctl -i /dev/sda 

Make sure SMART is turned on. If not,

sudo smartctl -s on /dev/sda 

Finally, run

sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda 

or if it's a serial ata drive.

sudo smartctl -a -d ata /dev/sda

See this link for more info about smartmontools. http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/smartmontools/wiki/TocDoc

  • 1
    Indeed, my hard drive failed beyond repair a few days ago.
    – Pomario
    Feb 21, 2012 at 15:19

Your HDD definitely looks like its reaching (EOL), End of Life. To elaborate on Javier's comment, I would suggest using an Ubuntu Live CD as opposed to the Disk Utility within your current Ubuntu instance, (for the obvious reason that when you plug in your external HDD the OS becomes unusable), and run the following command from the command line to check for disk errors:

e2fsck -f -c -v /dev/sdX

Where sdX is the mount point of your external HDD. The external HDD should be plugged in but not mounted, you can unmount the disk using the Disk Utility, and as Javier pointed out you can also use the Disk Utility to check the SMART status of the HDD if it is SMART capable/ enabled.

Again, do all of this from within the Ubuntu LiveCD. While you are at it, check for errors/ health of your primary HDD.

  • Sorry. The OS becomes unusable only when I synchronize primary disk w/ external HDD. From the attached image, how do you tell it's the external HDD failing (2months old) and not the primary disk (1yr old)?
    – Pomario
    Feb 17, 2012 at 13:25
  • You can see "dev sda" in there - sda is the first hard disk attached to the system, so it does look like your internal one to me.
    – Caesium
    Feb 17, 2012 at 13:29
  • It was an assumption made without knowing your current setup, but as Caesium pointed out /dev/sda is the first disk attached to your system so it could very well be that one. You are putting the disk under more stress than it's used to when you 'sync' it with your external HDD and that is probably why it only seems to be failing then. I would follow the steps I outlined above to check the health of both disks anyway, if you find that your primary disk is failing you will need to backup your important data in a less stressful manor before it fails for good.
    – kingmilo
    Feb 17, 2012 at 14:02
  • 1
    sda is the first detected disk; that very well could be the external one.
    – psusi
    Feb 20, 2012 at 21:05
  • 1
    USB? If so check the output of dmesg when you plug it in to see that your OS recognizes it and that it gets power. You also need to see how it's formatted, if it's formatted with NTFS and depending on your OS you might have to load additional software and run specific commands to correctly mount it.
    – kingmilo
    Aug 13, 2017 at 18:48

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