The Gift That Keeps on Giving…

Giving problems that is. Before I start, I notice it’s very nearly a year since my last blog! Doesn’t time fly! I blame Covid and starting a new job which has kept me busy.

Part of the reason I am writing this now is that I stupidly locked myself out of my work account late on Friday so have had no work distractions over the weekend. Instead I decided to fix a long-standing problem with my QNAP.

Yes, the gift that keeps on giving problems.

To be fair, it’s not all the QNAP’s fault. I’ve tried putting it in various rooms of the house (even empty ones) but somehow, it keeps getting turned off at the mains by “other people” plugging in vacuum cleaners or the like. This tends to wreak havoc with the 2TB ext4 filesystem and sometimes the RAID array too.

This shouldn’t happen but it reminds me of the early days of my career in the early 90s when exactly this thing happened at a company I worked for. They had a SCO Unix PC on a desk in an office in London. It kept going wrong and they kept complaining. After a few trips down to London to repeatedly fix it, we realised that the cleaners were unplugging it. Naturally they hadn’t thought of a cabinet, server cupboard or even a UPS or a note on the plug. IT was a bit of an inconvenience for them.

Anyway, 30 years later and it’s still happening albeit in a domestic context. The background is that whenever I would log on to my QNAP the filesystem would always be corrupt. Sometimes because it had been unplugged but sometimes for no reason whatsoever. To fix this I came up with a process which involved plugging in a console and keyboard, shutting down the services, un-mounting the filesystem, running e2fsck and starting everything again.

After a while however, it became apparent that running e2fsck, even when forced, didn’t fix all the problems. Straight after a filesystem fix I still got messages like the one below:

Suspicious ext4 filesystem errors on QNAP

Now, I don’t know what the errors above mean but e2fsck never fixed them and the filesystem continued to get corrupted. Luckily I didn’t lose any data.

Anyway, this weekend I finally bit the bullet, after copying all the old content to an external drive and all the active content to Onedrive. I took the advice of various websites and decided to use the QNAP as a backup store rather than a primary one.

This involved, deleting the volume completely and re-generating it as a new RAID volume and filesystem. Strangely, after the original volume had been deleted, there was no option to create a RAID5. So I created a RAID10 instead. I deleted that because I wanted more space and the next time the RAID5 option was available.

It’s all just a bit “random” really. I do still like the QNAP but if it continues to play up after this major surgery, I will have to write another blog.