why won't My Computer display external hard drives?

By norwegianwood ·
My problem:

I have several external hard drives of varying sizes (1TB, 120GB, 70GB) and the same problem occurs with all of them.

When I start up my laptop, the drives will appear in My Computer. I am able to Explore them, everything works perfectly. However, when any of them become disconnected, be it accidentally or through Safely Remove Hardware, they will not be displayed in My Computer upon reconnection. The sound will play confirming that the computer has recognised that a device has been connected, but I am not able to use the drive(s) because Windows Explorer does not show they are there.

I then went to Computer > Manage > Disk Management. None of the devices are listed. I also looked in Device Manager > Disk Drives and all the drives connected to the computer are listed.

I was not sure whether this was a "partition problem" (put in brackets because I don't know what partitions are!) because the devices DO work initially when I start up. It is only when I reconnect that the problem occurs.

It would not be too much hassle to reboot every time this happens, but one of the hard drives has a temperamental cable and gets accidentally disconnected quite frequently.

Additional notes:
- All drives work perfectly on other computers, both upon start-up and reconnection
- The makes of the drives are WD and Toshiba

If there is any other information that I should provide, please ask. Many thanks.

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Try changing Drive letters

by philldmc In reply to why won't My Computer dis ...

When I had a simular problem I ended up changing the drive letters of each drive. The two USB HDD's I had were fighting over same Drive letter of G. Therefore, I changed them to Z and X..and seemed to have fixed the issue.

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by robo_dev In reply to why won't My Computer dis ...

Many external USB drives have a USB Y-cable to supply more power for the hard drives, and some have a jack for an external power supply. While the USB spec says that port must deliver 500 mA of current, a good number of laptop USB ports are not that powerful. Hence the Y-cable....

Sometimes a single laptop USB port does not provide enough current to spin up the drive, and therefore the drive does not initialize properly.

I've seen a case where an external hard drive was drawing so much current that there was a burning smell from the laptop motherboard, even with the Y-cable.

Newer hard drives are not a big concern, since they tend to draw less power. If you are plugging in an older 20gig drive, then use the Y-cable, the enclosure power adapter, or a powered USB hub....otherwise bad things can happen to laptop motherboards.

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