What is a mount point in Linux/Unix?

Mounting takes place before a computer can use any kind of storage device (such as a hard drive, CD-ROM, or network share). The user or their operating system must make it accessible through the computer’s file system. A user can only access files on mounted media —From Wikipedia.

From the above statement only a geek can understand what a mount point is and for the people who are new to Linux/Unix cannot understand it in one shot and they have to do a bit of research on it to understand. This post is for new people who are just going to learn disk management and Linux. All the advanced users can ignore this post if you people know the meaning of mount point in Linux.

So what actually a mount point is?

In simple words a mount point is a directory to access your data (files and folders) which is stored in your disks.

To understand a mount, we should know two more concepts

What is a partition?
What is formatting?

A partition is a slice of a hard disk to write data into it. There are many advantages in creating partitions such as protection from data corruptions by isolating each partition from one another, systematic writing data to disks, even sometimes writing and reading is fast when we create partitions.

Formatting is a concept on how we write data onto disks. Data can be written in many ways with different meta data added to each chunk of data written to disk for security, reductions in disk space wastage, etc.

Once formatting is done on a partition, we can write data on the partition. To access that partition we link the partition to a directory in our machine so that if we go to that directory we can access all the data stored in that partition. This linking of partition with a directory is called as mounting or mount point.

Still did not get the mount concept?

Let us read a farmer story who distributed his uncultivable land to his children and what they did from it.

There is a former who thought of distributing his whole barren land of 25 Hectares to his three children, he distributed as below.

Untitled drawing (3)

Child 1: John got eight hectares of land.

Child 2: Barbie got 13 hectares of land.

Child 3: Steve got four hectares of land.

Untitled drawing

Now the former children planned for improving their respective lands and started ploughing depending on the crops they are going to cultivates.

John wants to cultivate Oranges.

Barbi wants to cultivate Mangos.

Steve wants to cultivate corn.

For these crops/fruit tree cultivation they require to plough differently to suite their crops. As shown below diagram for cultivating Mangos ploughing is different from cultivating corn. Once this is done they sow their respective crop plants in their lands.

Untitled drawing (1)

As crops are grown they should be protected from intruders and they arranged a fence around their lands and created an entry point to each of their lands with a gate.

Untitled drawing (2)

So if anyone to access their lands they have to enter through these gates and get the fruits/corn from the land.

The analogy of this story to our disk management is as below.

Farmers land is equal to entire disk
Slices which farmer given to his children is called as partitions
Ploughing land for cultivating crops is called as formatting.
Planting trees and crops are called as writing data to disks/partitions.
Protecting the grown crops and trees by arranging a gate is called mounting.

Some FAQ’s related to mount in Linux/Unix:

Q. I lost my mount point,is my data lost in that partition?

You just lost your access point not the data. To access your partition mount your partition on other directory.

Q. I am M$ windows person and I do not see any mount point stuff, can you explain where is my mount point?

M$ hidden the concept of mounting. The drives in windows is called as mount points and it starts from C drive and ends with Z drive. And, why we do not have A and B drives have all different story.

Q How can I find mounted partitions in my machine?

	Use below commands to know more about the mount points
	cat /etc/mtab
	df -h
	Q. What is a network mount point?
A network mount is a mount point which can access network file systems like NFS, Samba, FTP, SSH, etc.

​Hope this helps new commers to Linux will understand this.

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Mr Surendra Anne is from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India. He is a Linux/Open source supporter who believes in Hard work, A down to earth person, Likes to share knowledge with others, Loves dogs, Likes photography. He works as Devops Engineer with Taggle systems, an IOT automatic water metering company, Sydney . You can contact him at surendra (@) linuxnix dot com.
  • Sameer

    awesome dude..the simplest way to explain mountpoint. loved the farmer story :)

  • Kevin James Lausen

    grammar was a little rough, but loved the FARMER analogy.

  • kumaresan

    Hi, I like this post very much and expecting the same for upcoming posts with example like this.so It easier to understand..

  • Kishore

    Nice explanation on mount point along with farmer story and you did good relation between those two,Thank you surendra.

  • Sameeran

    Hi, What happens when a hard disk crashes? Please provide your thoughts on how data recovery works and under what conditions data recovery can fail?

  • Jimmy

    A and B drives were floppy disks, 3.5 and 5.25.

  • Puddin T. Aine

    A: and B: are reserved for the floppy disks in MS-DOS. This is it’s legacy to it’s Windows children.

  • rene lagas

    For a noob like me… you make linux/unix a lot easier to understand. Keep it up!!!

  • great

  • A.K Singh

    Awesome , love the story

  • shahed_666

    it would have been horrible for understanding mount point to me but you save me :p

  • 2-e

    How does the computer recognize the mount point in the particular partition it is accessing?

  • chris

    woow great help!! thanks alot for the expalination!!

  • Mr.Surendar, You gave a beautiful explanation on mount points with farmer & field example. I am 45 yr engineer having diverse interests and androie / RHL is a side interest ! I had some doubt on mount points in linux as n android i got an error “cannot mount on this transport end point ” ! The directory was already existing before i attempted to mount my separate sdcard ext3 partition. Mount points appear simple but are really complex technology underlying them.

  • Neela

    Very nice way to explain the mount points. Thanks a lot.

  • Brah Zulu

    Yo… I was so lost with the mount point issue man,
    But thanks to your explanation and awesome analogy am found.

  • Sudeep

    Great explanation, Surendra ! Good example of teh farm.

  • sunil

    Beautifully explained!! Great post.


  • Wow…..loved the former story….


  • Nathan

    I laughed twice on this articles.
    First on the "That's for geek", and second on the "M$".



  • nabaz

    the perferct article on mounting that I ever seen…

  • superb…explanation !!!

  • Vishwa

    Very good Example for Mounth point theory . 

  • kishore

    nice stuff..

  • Prasad

    Nice analogy to explain a partition. 

  • devaraj

    Very Good Post, Thanks

  • Pawar Avinash

    Thanks tons, the analogy is wonderful. I kept wondering what on earth is a mount point. Thanks again. I shall definitely come back here if I have some questions about Linux/UNIX.

  • Should be “How can I find…” instead of “How can I found”