Tag Archives: external drive

Problems Mounting Drives Under Linux

Lately I have not being having much luck with mounting external usb drives in my Ubuntu 8.04 install. All that seems to happen, is that the drive will appear under “computer” but that is about as far as it goes. When I click on the external drive it just errors and does not open. So a solution that I discovered on the net uncovered part of the solution but I will attempt to put it together for you 😉 .

First of all you have to work out where you drive is mounted and what it is called. Under the Ubuntu distro, they are located under eg. /dev/sdb or something similar to that. The only thing that will change is the letter on the end. If you are not sure of which one you external drive is, you can unplug the drive then run this command :

ls -la | grep sd

Then plug the drive back in and run that same command to see what drive appears. This will tell you what the drive identifier is. Another way you might be able to find this information is by running the command :

dmesg | tail -n 50

This command will show you the tail end of the error message log, so from this you may also be able to determine what the drive identifier is from the message :

[ 2159.443365] FAT: bogus number of reserved sectors
[ 2159.443371] VFS: Can't find a valid FAT filesystem on dev sdb1.
[ 2159.488509] FAT: bogus number of reserved sectors
[ 2159.488515] VFS: Can't find a valid FAT filesystem on dev sdb1.
[ 2159.661736] FAT: bogus number of reserved sectors
[ 2159.661742] VFS: Can't find a valid FAT filesystem on dev sdb1.

As you can see from this message, it is telling me that it is trying to mount my drive as a VFAT system which is incorrect as it is actually NTFS. Now that this has identified my problem I can run a few commands to see if I can get it mounted. First I will make sure it is unmounted before I try to remount the file system:

sudo umount /dev/sdb1
umount: /dev/sdb: not mounted

That was just telling me that is was not already mounted, now I will create a directory for the file system to be mounted into. This can be anywhere you like but the standard spot in ubuntu is “/media/”. So next I run the command :

sudo mkdir -p /media/external_drive

Then if I am lucky all I have to do is mount the drive using :

sudo mount -t ntfs /dev/sdb1 /media/external_drive

Now you should be able to navigate to the folder you just created and view/edit the contents of the drive. If this still failed, try running the original dmesg command and see if you can track down what the problem is.