FFS data integrity

Bob Johnson fbsdlists at gmail.com
Fri Jun 16 19:38:01 UTC 2006

On 6/16/06, Pablo Marín Ramón <pabmara at fiv.upv.es> wrote:
> Here goes a newbie question about classical FFS (without
> softupdates).
> As metadata is updated synchronously, can an i-node, at some
> point, end pointing to not written yet data blocks? Is this a
> security risk, i.e., can those pointed to data blocks pertain to
> another user's deleted on memory but not deleted on disk data, or
> that deleted data will be marked in metadata as not initialized
> and after a crash fsck will fix all i-nodes pointing to it?

The short answer is that fsck can detect the bad inodes and fix or
delete them.  Assuming no programming errors, you don't have to worry
about a file containing bogus data after fsck has run.  Unfortunately,
if write-caching is enabled on your hard drive (and it probably is,
for speed), then the drive may internally re-order the writes and the
carefully crafted sequence of writes disappears, so there are no
guarantees (or at least, not as many).  Whether this is actually a
problem depends on the brand, model, and firmware version of the
drive, because some drives claim that data has been written to the
disk when it is actually only in the drive buffer, while other drives
are more honest.

More details are found in

> AFAIK, softupdates and ext3 in the default mode (data=ordered)
> don't have this problem, but journalling filesystems that journal
> only metadata do. Is this correct?

I think that is answered in the handbook section referenced above.

- Bob

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