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External HDD Problem

Community Veteran
Posts: 8,623
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Registered: ‎02-08-2007

External HDD Problem

I have been getting an intermittent problem with an external hard drive which is about 2 years old.
Message comes up on Windows 7..."Device driver software was not installed correctly".
All other USB devices install ok and this message has only appeared in the last week. The led on the Drive is on and I can feel that the disk is spinning.
I Guess I know the answer to the question I am going to ask.........is the Disk drive failing ? But is there anything else it would be useful for me to check out before throwing it out.?
15 REPLIES
Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎08-01-2008

Re: External HDD Problem

Did you try a different USB lead?
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Community Veteran
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Re: External HDD Problem

Try a different port/cable, if you get it to load, then try and run some SMART tests on it.
CX
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Registered: ‎16-09-2010

Re: External HDD Problem

USB disk drives usually use a standard driver built into Windows.
Even if something has failed, it is likely that there is a standard internal SATA disk inside the enclosure. Chances are that the failure will be in the USB to SATA controller inside the enclosure.
The SATA disk can be removed and used internally, or transplanted to a different enclosure. It may need formatting though, depending upon how big it is (e.g. >3TB disks will have some clever tricks built into the USB-SATA chip in order to present such a large disk to older operating systems).
Community Veteran
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Re: External HDD Problem

Quote from: CX
Even if something has failed, it is likely that there is a standard internal SATA disk inside the enclosure. Chances are that the failure will be in the USB to SATA controller inside the enclosure.

This.
It's quite common to hera of the usb -> SATA hardware failing inside usb HDDs. Just take the drive out and pop it directly into the PC or another usb enclosure and the HDD itself should be alright.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: External HDD Problem

Thanks for the advice, will try that out.
gromittz
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Re: External HDD Problem

Quote from: 7up
It's quite common to hera of the usb -> SATA hardware failing inside usb HDDs. Just take the drive out and pop it directly into the PC or another usb enclosure and the HDD itself should be alright.

Exactly what happened to an old Maxtor drive I had that one day decided not to work anymore.
I could hear the drive spinning up and sometimes the drive would be recognised when pluged in, only to be unrecognised a short time later.
Broke open the case. Stripped out the drive and put it into a cheapo £3 ebay usb enclosure and now fully working again.
Community Veteran
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Re: External HDD Problem

Certain Seagate drives seemed to have pretty terrible reliability: http://blog.backblaze.com/2014/01/21/what-hard-drive-should-i-buy/ - it could be a problem with the drive rather than the enclosure.
Community Veteran
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Re: External HDD Problem

That's all I need to know ! Smiley
To be honest I have already transferred all the important stuff to a New Hard drive and I have a couple of very old hard drives which might work in the caddy if it does turn out to be the Drive.
look at the feedback on Amazon as most makes of the well known drives  show a number of users reporting failures or other problems and awarding one star ratings.
Community Veteran
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Re: External HDD Problem

It must be said I don't rate usb HDDs very higly myself. I think they're pretty unreliable due to the usb - sata hardware failing so frequently.
USB thumb drives I think are great but not the HDDs. Although I do have two usb HDDs I don't use either a great deal. One is plugged into the router and the other one is used very rarely to back up the one plugged into the router.
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Re: External HDD Problem

Quote from: ejs
Certain Seagate drives

I work next to our sysadmin and I think the 'S' word is a swear word Tongue
Even seen them change the controller boards between different (identical model) HD's. Sometimes it works, other times not.
WTF
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Re: External HDD Problem

I have maybe 5 or 6 USB HDDs and all but the latest one have failed at least once .. and I use them for back up .. which is probably not the greatest idea  Roll eyes
Not sure it was the USB/SATA hardware that was the problem, though as all the drives connected fine, they just became unreadable and had to be re-formatted in order to be useable again.
VileReynard
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Re: External HDD Problem

Have you discovered that external USB SATA drives are unbootable?
I have.  Cry Cry Cry

TORPC
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Re: External HDD Problem

If you take them out of their enclosures, then install as a slave drive (may have to adjust pins to suit) reformat, then you can turn them into a bootable drive
VileReynard
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Re: External HDD Problem

I want a portable disk for backups.
So I have to provide a USB stick or CD to provide a bootable PC.
It's not possible to use the native OS because its active - and in an unknown state.