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 user@server.example.com:/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.


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 mvaldez@ /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.

  • 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
    Mar 27 '20 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.
    Mar 27 '20 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.
    Mar 27 '20 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
    Apr 16 '20 at 4:54

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
    Jun 18 '12 at 20:41
  • Indeed this is only a workaround and should be fixed inside sshfs.
    – Thor
    Jun 19 '12 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
    Jun 19 '12 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? Jul 12 '20 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
    Jul 14 '20 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. Jun 1 '11 at 11:17

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.

  • 8
    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
    Nov 17 '15 at 0:10

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