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fedora 27 system unresponsive when writing to usb drive


I am backing up a large quantity of data to a USB drive. I was using exfat and vfat and the system became unresponsive for long periods of time but from my experience with Linux on other hardware I understood anything going through FUSE is much slower and often makes the system unresponsive.

The last few days I decided to format the drive ext2 and try it. It is running at approximately the rated speed for the drive (30 Mb/s) but the system goes away for an hour at a time before becoming responsive for a short time before it goes away again. Today as I was looking it took literally over an hour while the clock on gnome was not updating, no apps could get focus.. only the cursor responded to the mouse but no other signs of life from the box. I did not expect this to happen with a filesystem supported by the kernel.

Some oddities which may or may not be normal, mount says the filesystem is mounted ext2 but dmesg says it's ext4 without a journal. I realize ext3 is ext2 with a journal and ext4 is an enhancement of ext3 so maybe this is ok.

I also got several messages in dmesg saying systemd-journald corrupted or uncleanly shut down renaming and replacing, so maybe some unintended journaling is going on which is killing performance. I am running rsync as root to copy the data because the directory tree being backed-up is owned by root and has 550 permissions.

Any suggestions guys?

Thank you,