How to recover data from a corrupted ext3 partition?

GetFree asked:

A server of mine had a drive failure of some sort which caused the OS (CentOS 5) to crash and stop working (it refuses to boot).

So we put another drive with a working OS and from there we try to mount the partitions in the old drive.

Most partitions mount fine except for one: the /var partition, where my MySQL tables reside.
When I try to mount that one, I see these errors with dmesg:

sd 0:0:1:0: Unhandled sense code
sd 0:0:1:0: SCSI error: return code = 0x08100002
Result: hostbyte=invalid driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE,SUGGEST_OK
sdb: Current: sense key: Medium Error
Add. Sense: Unrecovered read error

Info fld=0x4a47e
JBD: Failed to read block at offset 9863
JBD: recovery failed
EXT3-fs: error loading journal.

Is there a way I can recover the data in that partition?

As requested, the output of tune2fs -l /dev/sdb2 is:

tune2fs 1.39 (29-May-2006)
Filesystem volume name:   /var1
Last mounted on:          <not available>
Filesystem UUID:          d84f5181-24f3-40ce-9eaa-601ae5ae33bd
Filesystem magic number:  0xEF53
Filesystem revision #:    1 (dynamic)
Filesystem features:      has_journal ext_attr resize_inode dir_index filetype needs_recovery sparse_super large_file
Default mount options:    user_xattr acl
Filesystem state:         clean
Errors behavior:          Continue
Filesystem OS type:       Linux
Inode count:              26214400
Block count:              26214063
Reserved block count:     1310703
Free blocks:              25127226
Free inodes:              26213665
First block:              0
Block size:               4096
Fragment size:            4096
Reserved GDT blocks:      1017
Blocks per group:         32768
Fragments per group:      32768
Inodes per group:         32768
Inode blocks per group:   1024
Filesystem created:       Thu May 13 18:14:28 2010
Last mount time:          Thu Nov 29 12:52:00 2012
Last write time:          Wed Mar 27 20:29:28 2013
Mount count:              15
Maximum mount count:      -1
Last checked:             Thu May 13 18:14:28 2010
Check interval:           0 (<none>)
Reserved blocks uid:      0 (user root)
Reserved blocks gid:      0 (group root)
First inode:              11
Inode size:               128
Journal inode:            8
Default directory hash:   tea
Directory Hash Seed:      35f38c48-3933-4c99-bde2-63b0eccf200d
Journal backup:           inode blocks

As suggested by @Hartmut, I run fsck.ext3 /dev/sdb2 with the following result:

e2fsck 1.39 (29-May-2006)
/var1: recovering journal
/var1: Attempt to read block from filesystem resulted in short read while reading block 11931

JBD: Failed to read block at offset 9863
fsck.ext3: No such device or address while trying to re-open /var1
e2fsck: io manager magic bad!

My answer:

It appears that your hard drive has had a physical failure, and that it has affected a block containing the ext3 journal.

You will need a second blank hard drive, at least as large as the failed drive partition, to perform any sort of recovery of this disk. You will also need a destination to copy recovered files to, so let’s call it a third blank hard drive, network file share, etc.

The general recovery process is going to be:

  1. Copy the failed partition to the new drive using dd conv=noerror or better dd_rescue. This may take some time.

  2. Perform all further operations on the copy Here I assume that you have copied /dev/sdb2 to /dev/sdc2 and that you will recover files to /dev/sdd2.

  3. Since the journal is corrupt, we will remove it:

    tune2fs -O ^has_journal /dev/sdc2
  4. Now complete an fsck of the device. This may take some time.

    e2fsck /dev/sdc2
  5. Mount the filesystem read-only and attempt to recover files.

    mount -o ro /dev/sdc2 /mnt/baddrive
    mount /dev/sdd2 /mnt/recoveredfiles
    cp -av /mnt/baddrive/* /mnt/recoveredfiles
  6. In no case should you ever use the original disk again. Replace it (under warranty, if it is still under warranty).

View the full question and answer on Server Fault.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.