External Hard Drives that Don't Show

By Inky960 ·
I have a bunch of external hard drives. Seven of them. That's no problem, per se, but when my laptops (only 3 of those) won't recognize a couple of them, I have a problem I can't figure out.

Why the same two drives? A WD "MyBook" and a homemade 2.5" drive I made from an "enclosure" -- both of which worked perfectly until a few days ago. And the 2.5" will show up on my desktop PC, and on my neighbor's PCs... but not on either of my laptops.

Furthermore, when either of these "bad" drives is plugged in, my laptops won't shut down properly (they just hang there), nor will they boot up if I plug the hard drives in before powering on. They start to boot, but just hang.

This is maddening! What's suddenly going on? Any help will be most appreciated. And: not only what is going on, but What can I do?

I'm using Vista on one laptop and XP Pro on the other two, by the way.



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All Answers

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A couple of things to try

by Jacky Howe In reply to External Hard Drives that ...

Reconnect the Drive to your desktop PC and Click on Start, Run and type in cmd and press Enter.

At the command prompt type in chkdsk volume:/r and press Enter.

If it finds any problems it should correct them. When it has finished try it in the Notebook.

If there is no sucess from that try this on the Notebook.

Go into "Control Panel"
Open "System"
Click the "Hardware" tab
Click "Device Manager"
Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers section.
Right-click every device under the Universal Serial Bus controllers and then click Uninstall to remove them one at a time.
Restart the PC, and allow the computer to reinstall the USB
Plug in the removable USB storage device, and then test to make sure
that the issue is resolved

Using a powered USB hub generally eliminates the problem.

Some good advice for the not so faint hearted can be found here.

You can use the Hard Drive Makers Testing Utility to Test the Drive

Hitachi / IBM - DFT "Drive Fitness Test"
Works with all manufacturers

Western Digital "Data Lifeguard"
Works with WD drives only

Fujitsu "FJDT"
Works with fujitsu models only

Samsung "hutil"
Compatability unknown...

Seagate "Seatools"
Works with Seagate drives only

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Thanks TBlue

by Inky960 In reply to A couple of things to try

Wowzer - that's some helpful-sounding information! Thanks a big lot. Now let me give it all a shot, and I'll report back.

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And sometimes

by OH Smeg In reply to Thanks TBlue

Because of the Improved Security incorporated into Vista it can not read External Drives formatted on anything but the newest Windows OS.

If these drives are working on other computers and just causing problems on a couple of NB's then you have to consider the available Power from the USB Ports as a potential source of problems. If you have a Y USB Cable plug it into 2 USB Sockets and the External Drive and that may provide enough power for the external drive but if it doesn't you need to provide more power and preferably through a Powered USB Hub of if the enclosure has a socket for external Power you can plug in an external Power Source.

If you have a Format Issue with Vista you need to copy the data off the drive under XP format it on a Vista computer and then copy the data back to the drive so it can now be used on a Vista and older Computer.


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Well yeah...

by Inky960 In reply to And sometimes

but the drive in question has worked since November of 2007 on this Vista laptop, with no problems, ever. And the little homemade enclosure drive DOES have a "Y" USB cable (the WD drive has an power adapter), and that doesn't seem to make any difference, with one lead in or two. It (the homemade)has always worked, too. Just last week, everything went berzerk and these two drives, of the several I have here, started not working.

I want to die. <just kidding>

Inky (Thanks, Smeg)

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In addition...

by Inky960 In reply to And sometimes

The External Drive *was* formatted on the Vista machine. In fact, except for about 5% of the time, this drive has been used with nothing but Vista.

I'm at a loss, to put it mildly.

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Well in that case it has to be Power or lack of it

by OH Smeg In reply to In addition...

If you have any 3.5 Inch External Drives these all need a Power Adapter as they work on 12 V DC and USB Ports only supply 5 V DC so they can not work on a USB Ports Power alone.

2.5 Inch Drives work on 5 V DC and somewhere around 500 Milli amps quite a few NB;s simply can not supply the required power to drive these well the current at least.

If you have a drive that worked on a NB previously and fails to now it is possible that if left on all the time heat has affected the Circuit Board inside the Enclosure that is the USB to Drive Interface and the Zener Didoes have started limiting the amount of current that they pass. A new Enclosure will fix that problem and if you need it on a lot get one with Active Cooling so it needs to be metal with a fan in it and that will need an external Power Sources well.

You can also check whatever you are plugging your Power Sources into as that could have gone faulty and be reducing the amount of current available as well. Or even the Power Supply itself could be failing and failing to produce the necessary current while still producing the correct voltage. They do fail after all and fairly regularly as well.


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Yes, I think so.

by Inky960 In reply to Well in that case it has ...

Jeez, you got technical on me, Smeg, but I think I followed you basically. All the 3.5" drives I'm using (the WD drives, except the one inside the laptop) are all 3.5" and all run off power adapters. All the 3.5" drives use adapters, so yes, you're correct-o. The 2.5" is an 80 Gig Hitachi, an IDE drive that runs okay now off just the USB port.

I'm about to conclude that the WD "MyBook" 320GB drive has gone bad. I checked (per your advice) all the plugs and power strips and made sure all were supplying power okay to other items, other appliances, so to speak. So what else could it be, but a bad drive? I'd still like to TRY to run scandisk on the thing, but how? And as I've lost my Wal Mart receipt, proof of purchase thingy, I don't know how I'm going to convince WD to do a damn thing to help me.



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Well WD does have a diagnostic Utility called Data Lifeguard

by OH Smeg In reply to Yes, I think so.

Available from here

You can try it on this drive when it is connected to the computer that it was working on.

If the Partition Information has been damaged through Low Power you may be able to recover your Data with one of these applications but some of them are expensive. Just remember to save your Data to a different Drive if you need to recover any. If you save it back to the drive that lost it's Partition Information you will overwrite other data making it very hard to recover. Or you can use something like the On Track option which can rebuild the Partition Tables very quickly.

While the last 2 are from the same company they are very different products. Win Hex should only be considered foe use by someone who knows Hex Inside Out while Davory is a great cheap General Purpose Application.

Personally I prefer the On Track Option but it's anything but cheap. However because I use this type of software a lot it's paid for itself many times over by now, for a cheaper option Spin Rite from Gibson Research or Stella have both very good reputations by other TR members.


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Bad to Worse

by Inky960 In reply to A couple of things to try

Jeez. Now when I connect the drive to the desktop PC, I get the same results as with the laptops: the desktop won't boot up and it won't shut down, when I boot it and then plug the drive in. So running chkdsk gets me an "invalid drive specification" -- oh, joy of my life! Heh.

I tried uninstalling all the USB stuff in Device Manager, but Vista put it back as soon as I uninstalled it! I'd never seen anything like it. A new thing with Vista, I suppose. I haven't tried the device manager route with the XP laptop -- maybe I'll do that next, after I get good and drunk. <joke>.

It's pretty obvious that the file system/structure/something is screwed up on this external drive -- no? But, how to straighten it out is a whole different ballgame. I'm stumped. Any other ideas? Anything?



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See if this helps

by Jacky Howe In reply to Bad to Worse

Is the Drive getting allocated a Drive letter.
Invalid drive specification


The drive specification must be in the form of the drive letter followed by a colon (:). For example, B: and are valid drive specifications

Try rebooting the computer without any USB devices attached. Then plug in the USB drive, right click on My Computer, select manage, and then click ?Disk Management.? If the drive is not present in the Disk Management window or if you are not able to access it, then the drive may have failed. In this window you should see all of your connected physical drives, their format, if they are healthy, and the drive letter.
Change the drive letter of the drive. Right-click on the drive in the list, and from the resulting menu select "Change Drive Letters and Paths"
Click on Change so you can change the drive letter. Click Change.
Select a new drive letter from the drop down list, preferably the one that is not normally used for this drive. EG: U:
Click Yes on the confirmation screen

To disable power management on the USB hub:
1. Right-click My Computer, click Properties, click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
2. Double-click Universal Serial Bus controllers to expand it, right-click USB Root Hub, and then click Properties.
3. Click the Power Management tab.
4. Click to clear the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power check box, and then click OK.

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