I have several directories mounted through sshfs. I sometimes get disconnects from the server (not configurable by me). I usually mount the directories like this

sshfs [email protected]:/home/user /mnt/example

When a server disconnects, the sshfs subsystem doesn't umount / free the directory but instead locks it inaccessible. The mount is still visible when typing mount. When I type

ls /mnt/example

the process gets locked (also Ctrl+c doesn't help). I therefore do

sudo umount -l /mnt/example
# find pid of corresponding process:
ps aux | grep example.com
kill -9 <pid of locked sshfs process>

Is there a better way to deal with this? Obviously sshfs should do the umount and clean up... Ideally it would reconnect automatically.


8 Answers 8


You can run sshfs with the "reconnect" option. We use sshfs with PAM/automount to share server files for each workstation in our network. We use -o reconnect as parameter for sshfs, mostly because our users suspended their computers and on wake sshfs would not reconnect (or respond, or anything).

For example:

sshfs [email protected]:/home/mvaldez/REMOTE /home/mvaldez/RemoteDocs -o reconnect,idmap=user,password_stdin,dev,suid

Just a note, if the remote computer is really down, sshfs may become unresponsive for a long time.

  • 1
    the option password_stdin has to be left out, otherwise the command is not working. Could you explain if / why the other options are necessary. Only using the reconnect option didn't work for me: sshfs again crashed after ~24h
    – mcExchange
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 9:36
  • @mcExchange the password_stdin option is only needed if you use pam_mount. the idmap option is to translate the UID between local and remote user (there must be a remote user named like your local user, otherwise this option should not be used), the dev/nodev and suid/nosuid options are generic mount options to allow devices and SUID permissions.
    – MV.
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 15:52
  • @mcExchange as for sshfs crashing, test it by running it in the foreground (not from PAM, but directly from the command line with the -f option) with the sshfs_debug option enabled and wait to see it there is something in the debug messages. That may help you find the problem. And you can try also a different version of sshfs or run it with a debugger like gdb. You can also post your questions on the libfuse/sshfs github repository.
    – MV.
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 16:08
  • Even though the connection is re-established, in my testing any application currently writing to a file will likely hang or possibly see an I/O error, which may cause it to think the connection is cause and not properly clean up. This is a big problem, for instance, trying to write video files.
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 4:54
  • Nice in theory, but NOPE, totally does not work. The same level of unresponsiveness prevails
    – IceFire
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 11:12

This can be worked around by decreasing the timeout. Add the following to $HOME/.ssh/config or /etc/ssh/ssh_config:

ServerAliveInterval 15
ServerAliveCountMax 3

This results in a 45 seconds timeout.

  • 5
    This would only help if the problem is SSH's fault. There's a larger issue that sshfs doesn't deal with death of the underlying ssh process gracefully.
    – bahamat
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 20:41
  • Indeed this is only a workaround and should be fixed inside sshfs.
    – Thor
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 10:23
  • 1
    But only a workaround that deals with one cause out of many. His problem may have nothing to do with keepalives. The nature of the question is less about the cause and more about cleaning up to a consistent state.
    – bahamat
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 17:14

I have a server that I use for storage and for some lack of space where I live, I keep it in another location. In order to bring the files into my network I use a raspberry pi that mount the files from the server using sshfs.

Recently I had to upgrade to raspbian jessie due to a power failure and realised that sshfs become seriously unstable. The folders would be properly mounted but after some time I would not be able to connect to them and the raspberry pi would freeze if I wanted to list the contents of the mounts.

What I tried was:

  1. used reconnect in the fstab
  2. used the ServerAliveInterval and ServerAliveCountMax in the .ssh/config file but to no avail.
  3. other solutions I read on most forums.

but no dice! Until I modified the fstab file as follows:

sshfs#user@server:/remote/folder /local/mount/dir fuse IdentityFile=sshkeyfile,Port=XXX,uid=1000,gid=1000,allow_other,_netdev,ServerAliveInterval=45,ServerAliveCountMax=2,reconnect,noatime,auto 0 0

And it works! No more disconnects! I looks like sshfs does not read the ssh config file for some reason and the keep alive signals were never sent.

  • How do you translate this to a sshfs command line? Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:39
  • Here is explained in detail how the sshfs command is used. Basically you have to write sudo sshfs -o list,of,options,as,above user@server:/path/to/remote/dir /local/path/to/mount/point
    – lucian
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 6:41

This sounds like a job for autofs. It's rather adept at handling network mounts of various kinds (nfs, samba, sshfs, you name it) and noticing when those things need re-mounting. It can also takes care of unmounting them after periods of disuse and mounting them when a file system request is made.

  • 12
    autofs will do the connecting on demand and can unmount when idle (which reduces the problematic time window), but it won't help if sshfs hangs because the server has disconnected. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 11:17
  • disarming. @Gilles'SO-stopbeingevil' is right of course. However, the following tries to avoid the issue in a different way: Mount for a short time while needed then disconnect prior to trouble. Good idea at least: tjansson.dk/2008/01/autofs-and-sshfs-the-perfect-couple Commented Mar 31 at 0:11

Well, I found peace in the other answers, but I wanna sum up what's working for me in a simple way:

sshfs -o reconnect,ServerAliveInterval=15 remote.srv:/somedir /local/mymount

I'm not specifying ServerAliveCountMax: it defaults to 3.

So, the above command (with the reconnect option):

  • will check if the connection to remote.srv is alive every 15 seconds.
  • If 3 consecutive checks fail, it will try to reconnect the sshfs mount (ssh-agent recommended).
  • If reconnecting fails, processes trying to access remote data through sshfs will receive an I/O error instead of hanging forever.
  • If the connection with remote.srv becomes available again, the reconnection should happen automatically.

Without the reconnect from the (-o) options, then:

  • sshfs will still send an error to processes waiting on I/O, but then will umount and exit properly.
  • no, sorry, this is not in line with the man page: 15 means 45 sec. See man page please: For a more automatic solution, one can use the -o ServerAliveInterval=15 option mentioned above, which will drop the connection after not receiving a response for 3 * 15 = 45 seconds from the remote host. By also supplying -o reconnect, one can ensure that the connection is re-established as soon as possible afterwards. As before, this will naturally lead to loss of data that was in the process of being read or written at the time when the connec‐ tion was interrupted. Commented Mar 30 at 23:51
  • @opinion_no9 what you say is what I mean. I see no contradiction. Please specify precisely what part of my answer is not in line with the man page, according to you.
    – Totor
    Commented Apr 3 at 14:27
  • I read in your explanation "will check if the connection to remote.srv is alive every 15 seconds" whereas the man page explains it is 3x the number in seconds: 3 * 15 = 45 seconds; What did I miss, what did I understand wrong? Commented Apr 6 at 8:25
  • 1
    @opinion_no9 sshfs "will check if the connection to remote.srv is alive every 15 seconds", then "If 3 consecutive checks fail, it will try to...", so indeed, after 45 (3*15) seconds, that is 3 failed attempts, it will try to reconnect or trigger an I/O error if it cannot, or will "umount and exit properly" if the reconnect option wasn't used. I still see no contradiction, and no added value on our comments. Then, are you willing to delete your comments (and I will delete mine)?
    – Totor
    Commented Apr 10 at 13:11
  • I stick with the man page. So you explain well the way it is verified if after 45=3x15 s to find if it is alive, no contradiction. Decision taken after 3x15=45s. Fine. Commented Apr 14 at 13:03

If there are still people encountering this problem, I still could not fix it. I did find a working workaround.

The following ruby script did the trick. It creates a folder called "keepalive" over and over. Just keep running this until infinity.

$i =1 
$num =0
    puts("Inside the loop i = #$i" )
    $i +=1
    puts 'creating obj'
    system 'mkdir  /{yourmountpoint}/keepalive'
    sleep 5
    puts 'we did it, it should be still alive'
end while $i > $num

I do not know why this works. But it seems to solve my problem where I am inactive for a minute and everything freezes. It just tries to create a folder at the mounting point and that seems to keep it from disconnecting and freezing everything somehow.

  • 11
    Well, if that works for you, then you don't need a script and ruby interpreter. A single line would do just as well: while true; do mkdir -p /x/y; sleep 2; done
    – mivk
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 0:10

All of my sshfs mounts are at ~/mnt. I therefore put this in my crontab:

*/10 * * * * ls ~/mnt/* > /dev/null 2>&1

This runs every ten minutes. It runs ls on my mount directories. The output is redirected /dev/null. This has worked well for me for years.

  • question: according to sshfs man page (see my quote) the system does not reconnect by itself - how can this solution help here? (btw, it reminded me digging up the garden with hand genades ...) Commented Apr 14 at 13:18

While unplanned disconnects are an issue with SSHFS (and in the same way ssh connections) the man page tells (quote!):

SSHFS hangs after the connection was interrupted By default, network operations in SSHFS run without timeouts, mirroring the default behavior of SSH itself. As a consequence, if the connection to the remote host is interrupted (e.g. because a network cable was removed), operations on files or directories under the mountpoint will block until the connection is either restored or closed altogether (e.g. manually). Applications that try to access such files or directories will generally appear to "freeze" when this happens. If it is acceptable to discard data being read or written, a quick workaround is to kill the responsible sshfs process, which will make any blocking operations on the mounted filesystem error out and thereby "unfreeze" the relevant applications. Note that force unmounting with fusermount -zu, on the other hand, does not help in this case and will leave read/write operations in the blocking state. For a more automatic solution, one can use the -o ServerAliveInterval=15 option mentioned above, which will drop the connection after not receiving a response for 3 * 15 = 45 seconds from the remote host. By also supplying -o reconnect, one can ensure that the connection is re-established as soon as possible afterwards. As before, this will naturally lead to loss of data that was in the process of being read or written at the time when the connection was interrupted.

SSHFS not perfect for work from a riding train ... however explains a lot.

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