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File system corruption

I am wondering if anybody can shed any light on this.  I have lost two file
systems in the past year due to file system corruptions.  In each case, I
was running ext3 on a single-filesystem-is-the-whole-disk setup running
RedHat 9.0.  They were on two separate computers, with different hard disks.
In both cases, things crashed hard enough that I had to boot from the rescue
CD, run fsck manually, repeatedly (and in the second case, play with debugfs
to clear a few inodes by hand), until fsck passed.  Then, I was left with a
disk in which all of my files (or, all that I cared about), were in the
lost+found directory with names such as #12375385.

Until the second crash, I assumed that the first was simply the result of an
HD failure.  Now, I'm not too sure.  In the second crash, which was on my
notebook computer (as was the original computer, but a different notebook),
I had managed to close up the computer, toss it in my briefcase, and carry
it home, where I later noticed that I had forgotten to turn it off much
later in the evening.  ("Gee, I wonder why my computer bag is so warm...
oops").  When I rebooted, I didn't notice until it was too late that the
boot script was prompting me to take positive action to force an fsck.  So,
after it timed out, it went ahead and mounted the filesystem, brought the
system up, and died about 3 minutes later.

So now I'm looking for some understanding... I don't understand why RedHat
tuned the filesystem to not force periodic fsck's on reboot.  Nor do I
understand why the default behavior was to assume that I didn't want to run
fsck after it noticed that I didn't perform a clean shutdown. -- I'll fix
that now... but why was it set up that way in the first place?

Should I enable periodic fsck's?  This is my laptop, it gets shutdown
(hopefully ;-)) and powered up twice a day.  I don't mind waiting every once
in a while.  Normally, I do perform a clean shutdown, but, the universe
being what it is, I can't guarantee that every shutdown will be clean, nor
can I guarantee that gamma radiation won't toggle a bit somewhere once in a

As long as I'm asking... What would I change in order to modify the default
behavior to be "the default is to run fsck after a dirty-shutdown" rather
than the other way around?

Any advice, suggestions, commiserations?


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