My home server is dying, possibly dead

Some months ago, the first virtual console on my home Linux box became “stuck” and wouldn’t respond. It wasn’t too much of an inconvenience so I didn’t bother much about it. A couple of days ago, I noticed that neither the CD drive nor the DVD burner was responding. Ok, I figured, I’ll have to schedule a reboot to fix that. Then last night’s backup failed when internal drive that my rack mount server backs up to suddenly decided it was read-only. I unmounted it, remounted it and it was ok. I restarted the backup and everything appeared to be running fine. But then a few hours later I noticed the CPU was pegged and two rsync processes were going crazy. Evidently the backup is screwing up again. I killed the backup, and decided I reboot it again as soon as I got home.

I was reluctant to take this step for a couple of reasons – first, it has 159 days of uptime. Second, it has always been a bitch to reboot. In the old days, it just wouldn’t recognize all the drives every time. Putting in a really really powerful power supply mostly cured that problem, but now it shows the BIOS screen showing all the disks, but then it just sits there not going any further. I can usually fix it with the reset button or power cycle.

I got home and found my office door had been closed, and so it was baking hot in the room with my computer. And when I rebooted, it wouldn’t come up. I’ve tried many of my old tricks, and it’s still not booting. I’m going to let it cool down, but if that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll be shopping for another server. Problem is, I don’t *need* a new server. The current one has plenty of processing power, memory, and most importantly, lots of disk space. I suppose I’d like something that’s more energy efficient, but otherwise I don’t know what to shop for in these days.

3 thoughts on “My home server is dying, possibly dead”

  1. Sounds like a hard disk failure to me. You might might might be lucky when the drive cools down. But replace it ASAP.

    Indeed, after a failure like this run “badblocks” on every single disk and see if any others have failures.

  2. If you’re looking for something lower power, the little VIA C3/C7 boxes are pretty frugal (my current server setup is a pair of them; one is the main server, the other just holds off-machine backups. Total consumption is just shy of 2.4kw/day. I’m planning on replacing them with a single machine that holds a stack of 2.5″ drives, and I think that will drop the power consumption to about 700 w/day.)

    The more-reliable server scheme I’m implementing is to put the root filesystem onto a flash disk, then wedge in a pack of immutable symlinks to put transient volatile things off on one of the data disks. I am planning to mount root r/o (toggled to r/w when I have to edit /etc/passwd and the like) so that ifwhen one of the data disks explodes I can reboot, hand-mount one of the other disks, and limp along until I can purchase a replacement disk.

  3. Regarding energy efficiency, don’t count out the power supply. When my home server’s original Antec 300w power supply went blooey after years of 24/7 operation, I picked up an OCZ 700-watt unit – and noticed that the server’s load on my UPS had dropped 50%.

    I picked up another big reduction in power consumption when I switched from my old 17″ CRT to a 22″ widescreen LCD.

    I wouldn’t mind going to a C3 or similar low-power setup, if I could find one that had lots of SATA ports.

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