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Error Unmounting Target is Busy: How to Fix ‘Linux Unmount Target Busy’ Issues

Learn how to resolve the ‘Linux unmount target busy’ error with effective solutions and troubleshooting tips. Discover how to force unmount busy devices and prevent future issues with our comprehensive guide.

Fix Linux Unmount Target Busy

Unmounting a device in Linux can sometimes lead to a frustrating error message: “target is busy.” This error occurs when the device you’re trying to unmount is currently being used by the system or an application. In this blog post, we will explore why this happens, how to address it, and preventive measures to avoid such issues in the future. Our primary focus will be on the keyword ‘Linux unmount target busy’ and we will also discuss how to ‘force unmount a busy device’.

Understanding the ‘Linux Unmount Target Busy’ Error

The “target is busy” error typically means that the system cannot unmount the device because it is actively being used by one or more processes. This can happen due to:

  • Open files or directories on the device.
  • Running applications using the device.
  • System services accessing the device.

Common Solutions to the ‘Linux Unmount Target Busy’ Error

1. Basic Unmount Command

First, try the basic unmount command:

bashCopy codeumount /path/to/your/device

If you encounter the “target is busy” error, proceed with the following solutions.

2. Lazy Unmount

Use the -l (lazy) option to immediately detach the filesystem:

bashCopy codeumount -l /path/to/your/device

This command will detach the filesystem and clean up all references when it is no longer busy.

3. Identify and Terminate Processes

Find processes using the device with the fuser command:

bashCopy codefuser -m /path/to/your/device

Terminate the listed processes if possible:

bashCopy codefuser -km /path/to/your/device

4. Force Unmount Busy Device

Force unmount the device using the -f option:

bashCopy codeumount -f /path/to/your/device

Note that this option is risky and should be used with caution, as it may cause data corruption.

Advanced Troubleshooting

1. Checking for Open Files

Use the lsof command to list open files on the device:

bashCopy codelsof | grep /path/to/your/device

Identify and close these files to unmount the device.

2. Handling NFS Mounts

For NFS mounts, use the following command to check and unmount:

bashCopy codeumount -f -t nfs /path/to/your/nfs/mount

3. Killing Processes

Manually kill processes using the device by their PID (Process ID):

bashCopy codekill -9 <PID>

Preventive Measures

  • Close Applications Properly: Ensure all applications using the device are properly closed before attempting to unmount.
  • Monitor Disk Usage: Regularly check and manage disk usage to avoid unexpected issues.
  • Unmount Before Shutdown: Always unmount devices before shutting down the system to prevent errors.


Q1: Why am I getting “target is busy” when trying to unmount?

A1: This error occurs because the device is actively being used by one or more processes. Use commands like fuser or lsof to identify and terminate these processes.

Q2: What does “target is busy” mean in Linux?

A2: It means that the filesystem or device you are trying to unmount is currently in use and cannot be unmounted safely.

Q3: How do I force unmount a busy file system in Linux?

A3: Use the umount -f command to forcefully unmount the filesystem. Be cautious as this can lead to data loss or corruption.

Q4: What commands can I use to unmount a busy device?

A4: Common commands include umount -l for lazy unmount, fuser -km to kill processes, and umount -f to force unmount.

Q5: Can I safely unmount a busy device in Linux?

A5: The safest method is to close all files and terminate processes using the device. Force unmounting should be a last resort.

Related Topics

  1. Linux File System Management: Learn how to efficiently manage and troubleshoot your Linux file systems.
  2. Handling NFS Mounts and Unmounts: Best practices for working with Network File Systems in Linux.
  3. Troubleshooting Linux Disk Errors: Common disk errors and how to resolve them.
  4. Linux Command Line Tips: Essential command line tips for Linux users.
  5. Understanding Linux Mount Options: In-depth guide on mount options and their uses in Linux.

By following these steps and solutions, you can effectively manage and resolve the “Linux unmount target busy” error, ensuring smoother system operations and data integrity.

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