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I've been having a big problem with corrupted files on my machine. I'm running Debian Wheezy (very minimal install) on an Acer Aspire One netbook.

I've been trying to download a 200 mb file. The md5sum is consistently wrong, and changes each time I download the file.

So I downloaded the file on another computer and transferred it to a thumb drive. When I mount the thumb drive to my Acer and check the md5sum, it's correct. But when I cp the file to my machine, both the original file and the copy become corrupted. I've tried copying it to several different partitions, each one becomes corrupted in a different way. So touching the file with cp is corrupting it.

Corruption has been a problem on this machine from the get go. My /var/lib/dpkg/status file is frequently corrupted. Characters in package names get replaced with random characters, and I have to fix the file with a text editor. Installing Debian in the beginning was an issue, it would always give an 'Input/Output Error' and fail the installation. I was finally able to get the base system from the net install image on my machine and built it up with apt-get, giving me the very unstable system I'm using today.

So I'm wondering if my hard disk is just bad. I'm interested to know the technical details of the corruption issues I'm having. Hoping that someone knowledgeable on this site can shed some light on the topic.

Thankyou for reading about my problem!

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First, it can the memory-related issue; second, it most likely belongs to the SuperUser site. –  raina77ow Nov 19 '12 at 16:04
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 20 '12 at 12:46

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1 Answer

It's more likely that your RAM is bad than your hard disk. I would recommend running Memtest86 to check if this is the case, and replace your RAM if it's bad. Many Linux distros come with a copy of Memtest86; check your boot menu to see if you can boot into that instead of Linux, or if not, download it and burn it to a CD or write it to a thumb drive to boot from.

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+1 totally. When you download a file and write it to disk, it is almost certainly delivered from buffer cache (and likely not even physically on the disk yet) by the time you run md5sum. This makes a RAM issue much more likely. –  Damon Nov 19 '12 at 16:08
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