Linux: Recover Corrupted Partition From A Bad Superblock

Q. How can I Recover a bad superblock from a corrupted ext3 partition to get back my data? I’m getting following error:

/dev/sda2: Input/output error
mount: /dev/sda2: can’t read superblock

How do I fix this error?

A. Linux ext2/3 filesystem stores superblock at different backup location so it is possible to get back data from corrupted partition.

WARNING! Make sure file system is UNMOUNTED.

If your system will give you a terminal type the following command, else boot Linux system from rescue disk (boot from 1st CD/DVD. At boot: prompt type command linux rescue).

Mount partition using alternate superblock

Find out superblock location for /dev/sda2:
# dumpe2fs /dev/sda2 | grep superblock
Sample output:

  Primary superblock at 0, Group descriptors at 1-6
  Backup superblock at 32768, Group descriptors at 32769-32774
  Backup superblock at 98304, Group descriptors at 98305-98310
  Backup superblock at 163840, Group descriptors at 163841-163846
  Backup superblock at 229376, Group descriptors at 229377-229382
  Backup superblock at 294912, Group descriptors at 294913-294918
  Backup superblock at 819200, Group descriptors at 819201-819206
  Backup superblock at 884736, Group descriptors at 884737-884742
  Backup superblock at 1605632, Group descriptors at 1605633-1605638
  Backup superblock at 2654208, Group descriptors at 2654209-2654214
  Backup superblock at 4096000, Group descriptors at 4096001-4096006
  Backup superblock at 7962624, Group descriptors at 7962625-7962630
  Backup superblock at 11239424, Group descriptors at 11239425-11239430
  Backup superblock at 20480000, Group descriptors at 20480001-20480006
  Backup superblock at 23887872, Group descriptors at 23887873-23887878

Now check and repair a Linux file system using alternate superblock # 32768:
# fsck -b 32768 /dev/sda2
Sample output:

fsck 1.40.2 (12-Jul-2007)
e2fsck 1.40.2 (12-Jul-2007)
/dev/sda2 was not cleanly unmounted, check forced.
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
Free blocks count wrong for group #241 (32254, counted=32253).
Fix? yes

Free blocks count wrong for group #362 (32254, counted=32248).
Fix? yes

Free blocks count wrong for group #368 (32254, counted=27774).
Fix? yes
..........
/dev/sda2: ***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
/dev/sda2: 59586/30539776 files (0.6% non-contiguous), 3604682/61059048 blocks

Now try to mount file system using mount command:
# mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
You can also use superblock stored at 32768 to mount partition, enter:
# mount sb={alternative-superblock} /dev/device /mnt
# mount sb=32768 /dev/sda2 /mnt

Try to browse and access file system:
# cd /mnt
# mkdir test
# ls -l
# cp file /path/to/safe/location

You should always keep backup of all important data including configuration files.

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.