External USB SATA HDD enclosure not recognised

By oliver.licari ·
I have a Toshiba A200 Satellite Notebook running Vista Home Premium.
I just bought an external enclosure with a WD SATA HDD for backup and transfer of information.

The new enclosure is supposed to be plug and play (pray) and compatible with Vista.
It works perfectly well with my desktop running XP but when I plug it into my laptop nothing happens !!

My usb ports on the laptop work ell with usb pendrives and other devices.

I have also noticed tha this enclosure is not even recognised by the bios.

Please help me !!

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All Answers

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Could be the format of the Drive here maybe

by OH Smeg In reply to External USB SATA HDD en ...

What happens when you plug in the Enclosure to the Vista unit? Do you see a Found New Hardware thing pop up on the lower right hand corner?

If not do you have a Powered USB HUB that you could connected between the Vista computer and the enclosure with the drive in it? If it does but you can not find any mention of this in Drive Management there probably isn't enough Power to Drive it. If it is in the Drive Manager what was the HDD formatted on? Sometimes a HDD formatted on a XP Computer without the Service Packs installed is invisible to Vista and needs reformatting so that Vista can read it. You will need to copy everything off this drive to a XP computer and then format it on a Vista Computer from the Drive Management Pane and then plug it back into the XP computer and restore your Data.

Modern NB's don't have a lot of power available at the USB Ports so if it came with a Y Lead with 2 USB Plugs on it you need to plug in both Plugs at the NB. If it doesn't have a Y Lead you need a Powered USB Hub between the NB and the drive to provide the necessary power.

Lets know how you get on


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yes it does have power and it is in

by oliver.licari In reply to Could be the format of th ...

Disk manager cannot see the drive.
However it can be seen in device manager under usb storage devices as Unknown Device !
Windows cannot find drivers to run it

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regarding the format

by oliver.licari In reply to Could be the format of th ...

the format is NTFS - formatted on xp device with service pack 3 - i do not know how i can format the device from vista though as cannot read it !

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Does the enclosure have a separate power supply?

by robo_dev In reply to External USB SATA HDD en ...

or does it rely on USB power?

Some enclosures draw more power than the laptop USB port can provide, so an external supply may be needed.

Does the enclosure come with a USB y-cable to use multiple ports for more power?

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by oliver.licari In reply to Does the enclosure have a ...

enclosure comes with two cables for usb one for power supply - both plugged in -
I can see device in USB controllers in device manager as unknown device

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Good, that means that the hardware is working

by robo_dev In reply to yes

So the next step would be to try to delete the device from device manager and see if plug-n-play can re-detect it.

Unplug ALL USB devices.
Open Device Manager.
View, Show Hidden Devices.
Uninstall all devices under USB Controllers.
Uninstall all devices under Storage Volumes. Say no to any reboot prompts until you are finished. Also, if a Storage Volume doesn't uninstall, ignore it and move to the next one.
If you have a yellow ? with unknown devices, uninstall all of the entries there as well.

Check in Disk Management to make sure the drive letters of external drive and the internal drive are not conflicting.

Normally USB devices are not recognized by the bios.

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Thanks for your help - i found solution!

by oliver.licari In reply to Good, that means that the ...

Since you hinted at power - I tried attaching power cable to usb port on desktop computer while the external enclosure was attached via other usb cable to laptop - then everything worked !!!!

so it was a power problem after all !
However the new arrangement is far from optimal - i have to have two computers on and close together to run the external HD !!!

can i possibly increase power to my usb ports ?

and by the way the usb sticks and hard disks are visible in my bios where it lists the drives.

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No you can not increase the Available Power

by OH Smeg In reply to Thanks for your help - i ...

At the USB Ports. If plugging it into another computer solved the problem your Power Supply needs replacing so if it is new return it and get it replaced.

As for making this work connected to this computer you can use a Powered USB Hub. This will have 500 Milli Amps available at the USB Socket on the Hub. Also check your power Point/Board just to make sure that it hasn't developed a fault and is only supplying reduced power.

Did you try plugging the second USB Plug into another socket on the computer and not another one?


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tried plugging into all usb ports

by oliver.licari In reply to No you can not increase t ...

I tried plugging the drive into both usb ports - the result is the same - The usb ports work well with all other devices so I doubt they are faulty as such - but you are right about the fact that they ssupply reduced power.
the whole point of getting this enclosure was to avoid needing an extra plug and more wireing - a powered usb hub will be even more cumbersome for use with the lap top !

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I've had to do the same thing on an older laptop

by robo_dev In reply to Thanks for your help - i ...

It could not supply enough current to get the USB-attached hard drive to spin up. So I have to hook the other end of the USB y-cable to a nearby desktop PC.

If the USB enclosure has a separate power supply port, that would be the best bet.

To me it sounds like either the enclosure is not quite USB 2.0 compliant or the laptop is not quite pushing the right amount of current out the USB ports.

I once had a dual-port PC-CARD USB adapter fail after a 'unusual burning smell' was released from the adapter. It was a USB-attached and powered HDD. One of the two ports on the USB adapter no longer worked.

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