Inside the /etc/fstab file, in the sixth column, there is a number that corresponds to whether a filesystem should be scanned for errors. Possible values are:

0 - skip
1 - high priority
2 - low priority

Why was fsck 'priority' introduced in /etc/fstab?

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2 Answers 2


It has to do with boot order. Highest priority is required for booting (/ and in my opinion /usr /var /tmp ...). The /boot filesystem can do with lower priority because by the time the system can start fsck's, it read the necessary files from boot already. Filesystems for home directories etc. are lower priority during boot process.


The field exists so you can define the order in which filesystems are checked. Different partitions on the same drive should not be checked at the same time since the IO going to each filesystem will compete with one another, and slow the whole process down. Filesystems on different physical disks could be set to check in the same pass to speed up the whole process since the IO to separate disks would not be competing.

  • Thanks for the response. Does it mean that if I specify multiple partitions with 'priority=high' , fsck will spawn a separate thread to scan every partition? (and, when the last thread finishes, all partitions with 'priority=low' will be checked out)
    – colemik
    May 13, 2012 at 16:56
  • @trismarck, no, you put a number in the column and all partitions with a 1 get a fsck spawned at the same time to check them, then when they finish, all partitions with 2, and so on. Note that IIRC, mountall on Ubuntu and likely other distros using upstart ignore these fields and do their own figuring of what filesystems are different partitions on the same disk or not.
    – psusi
    May 13, 2012 at 21:04

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