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Re: Power loss and zero-length files

To: Robert Widmer <robertwidmer@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Power loss and zero-length files
From: Ben Myers <bpm@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2013 10:20:58 -0500
Cc: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
Delivered-to: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
In-reply-to: <CAGwuE-p8=UwpGUhgpqkWn4U4jU-KnfC3C19Kqqv7uYLJvubxgQ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
References: <CAGwuE-p8=UwpGUhgpqkWn4U4jU-KnfC3C19Kqqv7uYLJvubxgQ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)
Hey Robert,

On Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 10:59:50AM -0400, Robert Widmer wrote:
> I had a script that updated several files on an XFS filesystem using "sed
> -i", and someone decided to power cycle the box without a sync after
> running the script, and found that all the files that were updated were now
> zero-length.

How did they power cycle the box?  With a 'shutdown -h now' you shouldn't have
this behavior, but resetting or unplugging the machine is a different matter.

> Curious, I ran the following script to try and isolate the behavior:
> #!/usr/bin/perl
> my $dir = "/home/$ENV{USER}/XFSTest";
> mkdir $dir;
> chdir $dir;
> my $filecount = 100;
> my $tmpfile = 'file.tmp';
> while (1) {
>     for (my $i=0; $i<$filecount; $i++) {
> my $filename = "file.$i";
> open(OUT, ">", $tmpfile);
>         print OUT "Time:".localtime."\n";
>         close OUT;
> rename $tmpfile, $filename;
>     }
> }
> On the following release/kernels in a VM:
> Fedora 16 w/kernel 3.1.0-7.fc16.x86_64
> Fedora 16 w/kernel 3.6.11-4.fc16.x86_64
> Fedora 19 w/kernel 3.10-7.200.fc19.x86_64
> Ubuntu 13.04 w/kernel 3.8.0-19-generic
> And after a power cycle, all the files are zero-length with no extents.
> (CentOS 6.4 w/kernel 2.6.32-358.14.1.el6.centos.plus.x86_64 has the binary
> Barriers are not disabled and drive cache:
> [    2.145011] sd 2:0:0:0: [sda] Cache data unavailable
> [    2.145013] sd 2:0:0:0: [sda] Assuming drive cache: write through
> The closest thing I can find in the documentation is the XFS FAQ which
> mentions "you are looking at an inode which was flushed out, but whose data
> was not", which seems to indicate that the inode writes and data writes are
> not done in order, but nothing explicitly documents this.

You have it correct.  The inode writes are a separate from the data writes.

> Is this expected behavior?
> I've added a sync to the end of my script to try and ensure this does not
> happen again, and losing some amount of data after a power loss is
> expected, but it seems counter-intuitive that the inode/data writes are not
> done in order and that rapid file changes can result in such a large number
> of files being zero-length.

For a reset or hard power cycle this is the expected behavior.  The inode will
have been logged when it was created and is likely to be written out before the
data.  Unless you issue an fsync, the data will be sitting around in cache
until the kernel decides to write the pages out, and only then is the size
updated.  Adding the fsync is the right thing to do.  ;)


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