There are other questions like this bumbling around the site (that I'm working through) but I'm in the strange position where I think I know what I'm doing but can't explain what's going on.

  • I had 10x ~10GB files. None of them were open. Previews in Dolphin are turned off for files that big. Confirmed with lsof.
  • I selected the files and pressed Shift+Delete. This should skip the trash and nuke the files.
  • No progress was recorded. Usually Dolphin/KDE make a big fuss about deleting things.
  • The files are "gone" (not showing in Dolphin or the command line)
  • I'm still 100GB heavier than I should be. Most importantly, I'm at 100% disk use, which is why this is an urgent issue.
  • I've checked .trash on that drive and they weren't in there.
  • I've checked lsof again. They're not open.

So it seems like the inodes were deleted but the space wasn't freed. I would assume I have 100GB of orphan files. Hooray.

Is there any way I can purge these orphan files from an active filesystem (I realise a fsck would probably shift them off an offline filesystem)? I can't take the filesystem offline because important things (system files, home items, etc) are bind-mounted out of here.

Other details: the filesystem is EXT3 (I know, I should probably upgrade but changing FS is scaring when you're dealing with 4TB of data). The device is a mdadm RAID5 array.

  • 1
    Did u try baobab to find the files? – blade19899 Nov 26 '13 at 12:50
  • I didn't think of that. Will report back. As I say, there's 4TB of data in here so it's going to take a little while to scan. – Oli Nov 26 '13 at 12:53
  • Annoyingly, as I've just moved another 10GB of stuff off the disk and there's now 60GB free. I think it's possible it's just being really slow. – Oli Nov 26 '13 at 12:55

Ahh, deleting large files on ext3 takes a while since it has to zero out a lot of indirect blocks ( though I could have sworn the rm command blocks until it is done ). Yes, you certainly should upgrade to ext4. It shouldn't be scary when you have a backup, and you do have a backup right? ;)

Don't forget; raid is not for preventing data loss, it is for preventing downtime due to mechanical failure.

  • Yeah most of it is backed up but just reinitialising a RAID5 array of that size takes a day. Restoring that much data from slow off-site backup locations is another week. I've just decided to ignore it until I replace the array (which won't be long if I keep filling it up). – Oli Nov 26 '13 at 14:44
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    @Oli, if you are using lvm and can get the free space back up to 20% or so, you could shrink the volume, create a new ext4 one, migrate some files over, shrink some more, enlarge the new one, etc. – psusi Nov 26 '13 at 14:47
  • @Oli, oh, and you can use tune2fs to enable extents without reformatting, which will give at least some of the benefits of ext4, including making deletes ( of newly created files after enabling the feature ) go faster. You can also use chattr to convert existing files to use extents. – psusi Nov 27 '13 at 23:06

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