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Converting file system type on an external HDD with EaseUS Partition Master takes forever. Is this normal?

Mr.Jinx
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I have a Seagate Backup Plus HUB STEL8000200 8TB external drive (over USB), formatted as NTFS. I keep it connected to a Raspberry Pi and use it as storage for Plex and Nextcloud. The problem is that ntfs-3g is painfully slow and is the main reason why streaming or copying any data to and from the drive takes ages. Since there are only 3.5TB used, I had the brilliant idea of converting the drive to EXT4. I downloaded EaseUS Partition Master and told it to split the drive in two equal partitions and format the new one as EXT4. That was about 20 hours ago and it's only at 22%. It's not stuck, just painfully slow. Is this normal? I was thinking of stopping the process, copying the most important files to another drive and formatting the whole thing from scratch, but I'm worried that if I stop it I won't be able to access any data on the drive any more. 

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As long as the partition is there, you still should be able to access your files.

 

Cancelling the EXT4 partition only makes that partition inaccessible, so I think you can do that. If you need, just format it and you can use back that partition.

 

Not sure about EXT4 but I know it splits the journal into multiple parts, probably the reason why it takes a long time.

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So you just shrinked one partition and created a new ext4 one in the free space? What sizes? Because you mention "converting" which would suggest converting an existing partition in place, and that would mean reading and rewriting the entire drive a little bit at a time which would indeed take ages.

 

All of that may be yet much slower if the drive is SMR.

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37 minutes ago, Mr.Jinx said:

I have a Seagate Backup Plus HUB STEL8000200 8TB external drive (over USB), formatted as NTFS. I keep it connected to a Raspberry Pi and use it as storage for Plex and Nextcloud. The problem is that ntfs-3g is painfully slow and is the main reason why streaming or copying any data to and from the drive takes ages. Since there are only 3.5TB used, I had the brilliant idea of converting the drive to EXT4. I downloaded EaseUS Partition Master and told it to split the drive in two equal partitions and format the new one as EXT4. That was about 20 hours ago and it's only at 22%. It's not stuck, just painfully slow. Is this normal? I was thinking of stopping the process, copying the most important files to another drive and formatting the whole thing from scratch, but I'm worried that if I stop it I won't be able to access any data on the drive any more. 

Basically yes its normal, to shrink the partition it may have to move up to 3.5TB of files around the drive so its all in the right place for the new partition.  This can take days as so much time is spent just moving the heads back and forth.  It depends how spread out on the drive the files are.

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8 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

So you just shrinked one partition and created a new ext4 one in the free space? What sizes? Because you mention "converting" which would suggest converting an existing partition in place, and that would mean reading and rewriting the entire drive a little bit at a time which would indeed take ages.

Partition Master told me it hast to complete two steps: 1. reduce/resize the existing 8TB partition in two ~4TB partitions and 2. create and format the second partition as EXT4. I'm not converting a partition with files in place.

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ext4 can take longer than other filesystems to format as it writes a lot of accounting, superblock and inode table information. However, you should use the native Linux tools to format the disk instead of EaseUS, and you can additionally specify a lazy table initialization which will format the drive faster, so it will allow you to use the drive while it finishes initializing in the background.

 

It would be best to copy everything off the drive to something else and then format the entire drive.

 

Example (replace X with the actual disk number, find it by running lsblk, caution, the following examples will destroy all data on the disk):

  • No partitions (format the entire disk directly): "mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX -E lazy_itable_init" (formats the disk with the ext4 filesystem lazily)
    (Note, without a partition table, you will not be able to create additional partitions on this disk later, so if you need partitions, use the below method rather)
  • Single partition using GPT/GUID partition table:
    • "fdisk /dev/sdX" (starts fdisk against disk X)
    • g (creates new GPT partition table, destroying the previous one)
    • n (enter and enter again to accept defaults, creates a new partition spanning the entire disk)
    • w (writes the changes to disk)
    • "mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX1 -E lazy_itable_init" (formats the new partition on disk X with the ext4 filesystem lazily)

Please do not reboot the Pi or unmount the disk for at least 2 or 3 days afterwards to ensure that the filesystem has finished initializing.

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17 minutes ago, Chiyawa said:

As long as the partition is there, you still should be able to access your files.

 

Cancelling the EXT4 partition only makes that partition inaccessible, so I think you can do that. If you need, just format it and you can use back that partition.

 

Not sure about EXT4 but I know it splits the journal into multiple parts, probably the reason why it takes a long time.

I can't exactly cancel the process, Partition Master doesn't give me that option. But I can just pull the cord out...

I'm not sure how the files have been written on the disk, but if they are on the bit that is now allocated to the new EXT4 partition doesn't that make them inaccessible?

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3 minutes ago, Husky said:

ext4 can take longer than other filesystems to format as it writes a lot of accounting, superblock and inode table information. However, you should use the native Linux tools to format the disk instead of EaseUS, and you can additionally specify a lazy table initialization which will format the drive faster, so it will allow you to use the drive while it finishes initializing in the background.

 

It would be best to copy everything off the drive to something else and then format the entire drive.

 

Example (replace X with the actual disk number, find it by running lsblk, caution, the following examples will destroy all data on the disk):

  • No partitions (format the entire disk directly): "mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX -E lazy_itable_init" (formats the disk with the ext4 filesystem lazily)
    (Note, without a partition table, you will not be able to create additional partitions on this disk later, so if you need partitions, use the below method rather)
  • Single partition using GPT/GUID partition table:
    • "fdisk /dev/sdX" (starts fdisk against disk X)
    • g (creates new GPT partition table, destroying the previous one)
    • n (enter and enter again to accept defaults, creates a new partition spanning the entire disk)
    • w (writes the changes to disk)
    • "mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX1 -E lazy_itable_init" (formats the new partition on disk X with the ext4 filesystem lazily)

Please do not reboot the Pi or unmount the disk for at least 2 or 3 days afterwards to ensure that the filesystem has finished initializing.

Copying the files to another drive and starting fresh would have been the simple solution. However, from my experience with partitioning and formatting drives in windows I thought this would be a quick process. That's why I connected the drive to my Windows PC and used Partition Master. I can't stop it now unless I simply pull the drive out. And if I do that I'm afraid I won't be able to access the old data any more.

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7 minutes ago, Mr.Jinx said:

Partition Master told me it hast to complete two steps: 1. reduce/resize the existing 8TB partition in two ~4TB partitions and 2. create and format the second partition as EXT4. I'm not converting a partition with files in place.

Then what it's doing is basically defragmenting your drive. If you have 3.5TB and the partition is being shrinked to 4TB anything that was stored further than 4TB has to be moved into the remaining 500GB, the smaller the free space after resizing the more it's likely going to have to move.

 

4 minutes ago, Mr.Jinx said:

But I can just pull the cord out...

Yep, not a good idea if you want to get the data.

 

It shouldn't be THAT slow normally but the drive is likely SMR and that makes it atrociously slow.

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19 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

Then what it's doing is basically defragmenting your drive.

Well, that's good. But once it's done and I move the data to the new EXT4 partition, then tell it to delete the NTFS and extend EXT4, it's probably going to take just as long.

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Much more, definitely do not do that. It would mean moving the whole data i.e more than now, and doing that twice... You really want to copy everything somewhere else, get the drive how you want it, and copy back.

F@H
Desktop: i7-5960X 4.4GHz, Noctua NH-D14, ASUS Rampage V, 32GB, RTX3080, 2TB SX8200Pro, 2x16TB Ironwolf RAID0, Corsair HX1200, Thermaltake Overseer RX1, Samsung 4K curved 49" TV, 23" secondary, Mountain Everest Max

Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Dell XPS 2 in 1 2019, 32GB, 1TB, 4K

 

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