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disk gets full before time

untarring millions of files gets interrupted by premature diskfull error



4:24 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

when my second disk gets to 60% used, the gigantic collection of files i'm in the process of untarring starts failing to untar files because there's no more room on the drive.

what happened to the other 40%

is there are limite on the number of files inside a disk as well as on bytes?

anyone know what the problem could be?

(nb the server has been rebooted properly
after setting up extra drive, and all that jazz)

Matt Probert

4:28 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yes there is a limit on the number of files. A disk drive is organised into logical sections, each section occupies a number of bytes, perhaps 2048 or 4096 or even 8192 bytes. Every file is stored across these sections, so a small file of just 100 bytes will still occupy a full section of perhaps as much as 8192 bytes of disc space. The precise system varies from one operating system to another, and is usually amendable by the administrator.



1:30 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

To clarify; each file is assigned an 'inode'. You can see what percentage of inodes are used on a given filesystem by running:

$ df -i

Some filesystems (XFS, VxFS, probably others) are 'extent' based, and don't really suffer from inode limitations. Note that the only real solution to your issue is to re-layout your filesystem. You could make a new filesystem on the affected partition (although I'd advise against doing so if it's the / partition ;)) in such a way that you get some more inodes. Under Linux, check out the "-N" option to mke2fs(8); under Solaris, look into the "-i" option for newfs(1M).


3:26 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Follow-up; to see inode usage on solaris (using Sun's 'du'), you'll need to run this (assumes a UFS filesystem):

$ df -F ufs -o i

If you're running GNU's fileutils package on Sun, then 'du -i' will work fine.


11:42 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i did df -i (i'm running linux) and got this...

Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on
/dev/**censored** 4294967295 0 4294967295 0% /
/dev/**censored** 4889248 4441898 447350 91% /**censored**

here is the output for just df...

/dev/**censored** 19421984 4461992 14959992 23% /
/dev/**censored** 38464340 18324652 18185784 51% /**censored**

i guess that means that my primary hard drive does not suffer from inode limitations but my secondary one does. i have to buy a whole new server this year anyway.

thanks for the information. i'll take it into account when purchasing.


12:14 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You may also want to look into other filesystems; your choice of filesystem, especially when it comes to issues like this, really does matter. I'd keep that tarball around for testing, get a test system, and play with filesystems; you may find that ReiserFS or XFS give you better results. Likewise, you could lay out your filesystem in such a way that you get the maximum number of inodes.

Finally, note that some filesystems (XFS and VxFS, for instance) don't suffer from inode limitations at all. XFS is SGI's filesystem which has been ported to Linux, and has been available in the 'standard' kernel since late in the 2.4 series. VxFS is the Veritas filesystem; it's available for purchase (at a premium) from Veritas. There's also FreeVxFS in the Linux kernel, but I've not played with it at all.

Goog luck. =)


12:35 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

ever thought about rewriting your application? if you have so many files you might put them into a (my)Sql blob or text field... mysql can handle 100M entries and is more efficient than any filesystem I am aware of.


1:09 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

can i take the drive which currently has the inappropriate filesystem and remount it with the appropriate filesystem?

all i understand about mounting the disk is that i type

mount /dev/something /somethingelse


as for the sql scheme, this is my current situation:

i use the millions of files so that i can take any word queried by a user and just attach a file-suffix to the word and open a specific file for reading.

eg if they search for eastwood, it will take the first letter, E and open a file called ..../.../E/eastwood.suffix

so in other words, a user's query becomes simply the naming of a file to be opened.

will sql truly work faster than that? the file, in case you're curious, contains a list of product pages, except the list is boiled down to tiny identifiers which can similarly be prefixed by something (a url) to lead to the appropriate page; that, in turn, is also opened in a similar way, taking the identifier and using it to open yet another microscopic text file.

each file in this second haul is a single row in a database of 3 million rows.

i got forced into this method after my database expanded enormously, my original searching methods caused my server to get totally overloaded and my site to lose much of its utility and profit whilst i poked around for a viable, immediate solution

when i first started using sql i had a table with an entry for every product and i was getting it to look for keyword matches in each of about 3 million product descriptions - which proved insanely slow.

the system i developed in which i created the millions of keyword entries has not yet been put into sql by me.

i originally thought that it would be pointless, since opening a file with a given filename seemed like something a machine could do instantaneously.

but you've got me wondering now.

if i have a command in a perl script which is

open (file, "<filename.suffix");

and the file happens to be one of 3 or 4 million,

then is it going to have to process anything difficult to open that file, or will it do it just as easily as it would if there were only 5 files on the same disk?

if the answer is that it would do it just as easily, then i reckon i don't need sql. if it is not, then i totally believe you and will certainly move the keyword database to sql in the fullness of time.


1:30 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

can i take the drive which currently has the inappropriate filesystem and remount it with the appropriate filesystem?

No, the partition will need to be reformatted. This will (obviously) destroy the data on the disk, so you'll need a migration path (this may be as simple as scheduling downtime where you back up your data, reformat the disk, and restore the data). I'd strongly suggest experimenting with filesystems on test system, though! =).

Also note that support for the filesystem you're using will need to be present in your kernel if you want to make use of it.

As to the speed, it should open a file in a directory of 1,000,000 files as fast as it would in a directory with 10 files; just don't do any kind of file globbing operations, or things will get REALLY ugly REALLY fast (ask me how I know). You could clean up things a *bit* by making your directory structure deeper:


...but really, a SQL solution is likely the right way to go. I don't claim to be a DB guru, but I can tell you a few things:

* the structure of the database is critical
* proper uses of indexes is critical
* table joins are not cheap; they're very useful, but if you don't have to use them for a particular operation...don't.
* integer comparisons are cheaper than string comparisons

So, for instance, let's say that you have a form with a drop-down with a list of $somethings. You'll then take the submitted value and do something like:

SELECT * FROM <Table> WHERE <column> = '<submitted_value>'

When you populate the drop-down, populate it from a database table which maps integers (ids) to strings. Then set up the drop-down like this (populated from the database table):

<SELECT name="stuff_on_my_floor">
<OPTION value="1">Carpet
<OPTION value="2">Sofa
<OPTION value="3">Dustbunnies

Now, when the data gets submitted, you can do:

SELECT * FROM <Table> WHERE item_id = '<submitted_integer>'

...instead of something like:

SELECT * FROM <Table> WHERE item_name = '<submitted_string>'

Queries can also be optimized; one of the DB folks at my place of employment optimized a query from tens of seconds down to a few milliseconds. Other things to note:

* perl/python/whatever CGIs do not scale; languages with embedded interpreters (mod_perl, PHP, etc) scale far, far better

* use database connection pooling; setting up (and tearing down) connections to a database is a waste of resources. Note that database connection pooling can NOT be done with fork()'d CGIs, since they exit between invocations.

(edit: spelling correction)

[edited by: sitz at 2:04 am (utc) on April 30, 2005]


1:42 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

yepp... do what sitz recommended. php+eaccellerator+mysql should be able to deliver 50M+ pvs/mo on a modern box this way.
It's also much easier to migrate a DB solution than a bunch of files ;)


3:59 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

one gets stuck in one's ways because the number of different things to study in the world of databases and servers is so huge and full of so many different sets of myriad details

i always resort to perl these days because i've got so used to it i don't have to think at all when writing in it.

before i can take the next steps with sql from my linux environment i have to learn more linux - and first get a dummy machine;

besides, before taking the development any further i need to make further adjustments to the current design of how the pages get 'scored' (i.e. we're talking freelance independent bespoke search engine pageranking) and hammer out the final structure of the whole database and scoring system. this phase of the design started in august last year and it's taken all that time to run only 3 updates of the database, one of which got screwed up badly by the other kind of server problem (virus/hacker/etc).

when it is all finally ready, in terms of structure, migrating it from my file-picking mechanism to an sql database will be the easy bit.

the brick wall which i have to deal with in terms of the structure of it all lies in a script which slows down my crawl (done on a max os x unix server) so it takes 3 months to create the database...

the source of the problem is that when going through 3 million sets of easily-makable scored words, per product, to convert them into sets of scored products per word, i end up using a lot of time making it reread the scores per word every time it writes a new score; without sql one cannot update in a yodalike way - i.e. without opening, reading, changing, rewriting all.

hence my new linux installation will certainly end up housing the next upgraded version of my crawler, and i'll definitely only be able to eliminate 2 and three quarters of the months it takes to crawl by putting all these damn files into sql databases.

oh what fun my new machine will be. the only reason i can't wait to get going on it is so that i can get it over with that much more quickly.

i suppose i should really, now that i've just recently finished a crawl (hence the tarball antics), get my mac's sql running and sort out the top priority issue of ridding those 2.75 wasted months per quarter!

just investigated that.
my os x is 10.1.4
(although it comes with disks to make it 10.2)
i finally have an opportunity to wipe it clean and reinstall all the software for the first time in 5 years or something.

i've already dug up the page at mysql.com where i can then download sql to install on my mac. this time next week i expect i'll be in totally absorbed in making my faster crawler. right now sleep. first thing tomorrow - reinstall mac. i'll even make a goddamn note which the mac itself will thrust in my face at the designated time.

cheerio for now.


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