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External Hard Drive internmittently unreadable

Grakarg

New Member
Posts
2
#1
I've recently installed updates to vista, and now seem to have an issue with my external hard drive (western digital 500 GB USB drive). This is fairly recent, starting within the last week or so.

Sometimes my computer will find it and access it properly, sometimes it won't. Upon reboot, sometimes that fixes the problem, sometimes it doesn't.
When it is able to read the drive, everything seems to work fine, accessing all programs/files, but will intermittently fail usually after about 1-2 hours. (of course, usually right when i'm in the middle of something important.) When it crashes after having worked for a while, Windows explorer also seems to crash (or hang), but not always.

I've tried plugging it in other computers, and have had no issues accessing anything on the drive.

I don't seem to have any other issues with any other USB devices.

Does anyone have any suggestions or insight?
 

My Computer

stoneys-nutz

Gamerholic
Vista Guru
Gold Member
Wale's

Posts
2,685
#2
Hello Grakarg,
Have you tried to re-install the drivers for your USB device ?.
Go to device manager and un-install the device.
Reboot and let Vista re-install the drivers.
Also just to be on the safe side check all the leads and power cables.
The next time it stops, look in device manager and see if it's there.
Hope this helps and post your results.
Good luck.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Self Build
    CPU
    QX9650 (black box) [email protected]
    Motherboard
    Asus P5Q Premium
    Memory
    8GB-4x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR 2-1066
    Graphics Card(s)
    2 x ASUS EAH 4870 X 2 (Quad)
    Sound Card
    Supreme FX 2
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Fujitsu Siemens 22inch flat screen
    Screen Resolution
    1680x1050
    Hard Drives
    150 Gig WD Raptor
    300 Gig Maxtor
    300 Gig Maxtor, (External)
    PSU
    CoolerMaster 1000
    Case
    CoolerMaster N-Vidia stacker 830
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-U12P x 1x120mm fan, 6x120mm case fans
    Mouse
    Logitech G5
    Keyboard
    Logitech G15
    Internet Speed
    20Mbps
    Other Info
    Audio FX Pro 5+1 gaming head set

Ardneh

Vista Guru
Posts
618
#3
Grakarg:

This may or may not even apply in your case.

If you have had your drive plugged in to a front USB socket, try leaving it plugged in in back.
If it doesn't fail within a few hours, then that may be the answer.

Although your other devices are doing okay, they may be less demanding on, or less susceptible to a marginal front USB circuit.


Front USB plugins seem to have a higher failure rate.


Ardneh
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Compaq/SR5130NX
    CPU
    AMD AthlonTM 64x2 3800+
    Memory
    4 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce 6150 SE

Grakarg

New Member
Posts
2
#4
I've tried reinstalling the drivers and there hasn't been any change.
I've swapped the usb cable with all the different slots (front and back) and experience the same issue regardless of where it is plugged in.
When i can't access the drive, vista's device manager still says its operating properly.

Another wierd thing I've just noticed, sometimes it will loose access to the hard drive, then find it again. When that happens sometimes it still registers the total amount of space used on the drive, and shows all of the folders, but doesn't display (or can't seem to access) any of the files stored in any of the file folders. Other times it regains access to the drive but shows it as empty. Strange stuff!

I'm fairly certain the issue is not with the external hard drive, as it has worked perfectly fine when plugged into another computer and my brother-in-law's laptop.
 

My Computer

#5
Hi I have a silimlar problem. I am loath to suspect a faulty drive because sometimes it works and sometimes it does not and I have tested or part tested the drive with Seagate tools and it appears "healthy".
I have a Buffalo 500gb external drive with USB, Firewire 400, and eSATA connectors all three means of connection cause the same problem eventually. I also suspect that a date change could also be a factor. It is driving me nuts!!! as the PC does different things almost each time. I've done some virus checks but so far nothing found for if done with my external drive running; it can stop responding and the system hangs until the drive is switched off and the "Computer" process is stopped.
This started back in May /June 2010 after returning from 6 weeks holiday and doing "N" Vista updates!!!!!
Anyone help?? lots of similar sounding issues are on the WEB but I have not found a fix yet.
 

My Computer

#6
I've recently installed updates to vista, and now seem to have an issue with my external hard drive (western digital 500 GB USB drive). This is fairly recent, starting within the last week or so.

Sometimes my computer will find it and access it properly, sometimes it won't. Upon reboot, sometimes that fixes the problem, sometimes it doesn't.
When it is able to read the drive, everything seems to work fine, accessing all programs/files, but will intermittently fail usually after about 1-2 hours. (of course, usually right when i'm in the middle of something important.) When it crashes after having worked for a while, Windows explorer also seems to crash (or hang), but not always.

I've tried plugging it in other computers, and have had no issues accessing anything on the drive.

I don't seem to have any other issues with any other USB devices.

Does anyone have any suggestions or insight?
I have the very same issue. Does anyone out there have a clue as to what is up with our systems. I believe this is a Vista Bug but other than doing the simple checks which do not produce fixes!! there are no answers on the WEB.
Any hwelp out there?
 

My Computer

Lorien

Account Suspended
#7
Go to Start / All Programs / Accessories / Command prompt and right click on command prompt and click run as Administrator.

While in Command Prompt, type chkdsk /f /r and enter and let it run. It will want to schedule itself to run at the next restart. Answer yes and then reboot to run the program. It will scan and try to fix any corruption or bad sectors on your hard drive and mostly remove that as a potential cause.

To test your hard drive, check the manufacturer and then get the diagnostic utility from: http://www.techsupportforum.com/hardware-support/hard-drive-support/302602-hard-drive-diagnostic-utilities.html (and/or get one from your hard drive or computer manufacturer if they have one available – it wouldn’t hurt to try both). If it fails the test, replace it. If it passes the test, then there's probably nothing wrong with it. And fully complete each test no matter how long it takes to complete - we need accurate results.

Make sure the external drive is attached, powered up, and recognized. Go to Start / Control Panel / Computer Management / Disk Management. Take a screenshot and attach it to your next reply. I'd like to see what it says about the drive.


Defragment the External HDD. Here are instructions if necessary: How to Defrag External Hard Drives in Vista | eHow.com.

Get and install updated drivers for the external HDD from the manufacturer (yes, I know if run through USB they usually aren't necessary, but sometimes they can help). Proceed as follows to get the drivers: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/driverssupport/ht/driverdlmfgr.htm. Once you have the drivers, you can install them through Device Manager as follows: http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/193584-device-manager-install-driver.html.

Now see if things are any better.

I hope this helps. If not, post back with the results of what you tried, answers to any questions I asked, and any additional information you think might be helpful (including the attached screenshot).

Good luck!
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inc. MP061 Inspiron E1705
    CPU
    2.00 gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo 64 kilobyte primary memory
    Motherboard
    Board: Dell Inc. 0YD479 Bus Clock: 166 megahertz
    Memory
    2046 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 (Microsoft Corporation - WDDM) [Di
    Sound Card
    SigmaTel High Definition Audio CODEC
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Generic PnP Monitor (17.2"vis)
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1200 pixels
    Hard Drives
    Hitachi HTS541616J9SA00 [Hard drive] (160.04 GB) -- drive 0, s/n SB2411SJGLLRMB, rev SB4OC74P, SMART Status: Healthy
    Case
    Chassis Serial Number: 5YK95C1
    Mouse
    Logitech HID-compliant Cordless Mouse
    Keyboard
    Standard PS/2 Keyboard
    Internet Speed
    1958 Kbps download ; 754.8 Kbps upload
    Other Info
    Optiarc DVD+-RW AD-5540A ATA Device [CD-ROM drive]

    Dell AIO Printer A940

    Conexant HDA D110 MDC V.92 Modem

    6TO4 Adapter
    Broadcom 440x 10/100 Integrated Controller
    Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter
    Microsoft ISATAP Adapter
    Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface

    Router Linksys / WRT54G -01

pacinitaly

HappyGuru Lovin2Help
Vista Guru
#8
Go to Start / All Programs / Accessories / Command prompt and right click on command prompt and click run as Administrator.

While in Command Prompt, type chkdsk /f /r and enter and let it run. It will want to schedule itself to run at the next restart. Answer yes and then reboot to run the program. It will scan and try to fix any corruption or bad sectors on your hard drive and mostly remove that as a potential cause.

To test your hard drive, check the manufacturer and then get the diagnostic utility from: http://www.techsupportforum.com/hardware-support/hard-drive-support/302602-hard-drive-diagnostic-utilities.html (and/or get one from your hard drive or computer manufacturer if they have one available – it wouldn’t hurt to try both). If it fails the test, replace it. If it passes the test, then there's probably nothing wrong with it. And fully complete each test no matter how long it takes to complete - we need accurate results.

Make sure the external drive is attached, powered up, and recognized. Go to Start / Control Panel / Computer Management / Disk Management. Take a screenshot and attach it to your next reply. I'd like to see what it says about the drive.

Defragment the External HDD. Here are instructions if necessary: How to Defrag External Hard Drives in Vista | eHow.com.

Get and install updated drivers for the external HDD from the manufacturer (yes, I know if run through USB they usually aren't necessary, but sometimes they can help). Proceed as follows to get the drivers: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/driverssupport/ht/driverdlmfgr.htm. Once you have the drivers, you can install them through Device Manager as follows: http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/193584-device-manager-install-driver.html.

Now see if things are any better.

I hope this helps. If not, post back with the results of what you tried, answers to any questions I asked, and any additional information you think might be helpful (including the attached screenshot).

Good luck!

I just got home, my 1st read and...........

AWESOME response Lorien !!!
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    gateway/m6881
    CPU
    centrino core 2 duo 2.2ghz T7500
    Memory
    3GB
    Hard Drives
    500GB WD
    Mouse
    logitech
    Internet Speed
    fios 35MB not!!!!
Posts
11
#9
I've recently installed updates to vista, and now seem to have an issue with my external hard drive (western digital 500 GB USB drive). This is fairly recent, starting within the last week or so.

Sometimes my computer will find it and access it properly, sometimes it won't. Upon reboot, sometimes that fixes the problem, sometimes it doesn't.
When it is able to read the drive, everything seems to work fine, accessing all programs/files, but will intermittently fail usually after about 1-2 hours. (of course, usually right when i'm in the middle of something important.) When it crashes after having worked for a while, Windows explorer also seems to crash (or hang), but not always.

I've tried plugging it in other computers, and have had no issues accessing anything on the drive.

I don't seem to have any other issues with any other USB devices.

Does anyone have any suggestions or insight?
You may need a new usb cable.Does external drive show in C: page showing all drives installed?
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    gateway t3616 desktop
    CPU
    sata
    Motherboard
    generic
    Memory
    250 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    generic
    Sound Card
    generic
    Monitor(s) Displays
    generic
    Screen Resolution
    1020
    Hard Drives
    2 drives vista 250 gb Win 7 pro 1tb win 7 frist
    Other Info
    Adding new 1tb drive replacing 160gb drive

Lorien

Account Suspended
#10
It's not likely the USB cable if the drive works fine on other computers and just has problems with this one computer. It may be a USB port on that computer - so try different ones to see if that helps.

If my prior post doesn't help (designed to ensure the external drive is working and setup fine), then if this started only a week or so ago try a System Restore on the computer you're having troubles connecting with.

Do you know when this problem began? Try a System Restore to a point in time BEFORE the problem began. Here's the procedure: http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/76905-system-restore-how.html. Be sure to check the box to show more than 5 days of restore points. If the first attempt fails, then try an earlier point or two. NOTE: You will have to re-install any software and updates you installed between now and the restore point, but you can use Windows Update for the updates.

I hope this helps.

Good luck!
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inc. MP061 Inspiron E1705
    CPU
    2.00 gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo 64 kilobyte primary memory
    Motherboard
    Board: Dell Inc. 0YD479 Bus Clock: 166 megahertz
    Memory
    2046 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 (Microsoft Corporation - WDDM) [Di
    Sound Card
    SigmaTel High Definition Audio CODEC
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Generic PnP Monitor (17.2"vis)
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1200 pixels
    Hard Drives
    Hitachi HTS541616J9SA00 [Hard drive] (160.04 GB) -- drive 0, s/n SB2411SJGLLRMB, rev SB4OC74P, SMART Status: Healthy
    Case
    Chassis Serial Number: 5YK95C1
    Mouse
    Logitech HID-compliant Cordless Mouse
    Keyboard
    Standard PS/2 Keyboard
    Internet Speed
    1958 Kbps download ; 754.8 Kbps upload
    Other Info
    Optiarc DVD+-RW AD-5540A ATA Device [CD-ROM drive]

    Dell AIO Printer A940

    Conexant HDA D110 MDC V.92 Modem

    6TO4 Adapter
    Broadcom 440x 10/100 Integrated Controller
    Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter
    Microsoft ISATAP Adapter
    Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface

    Router Linksys / WRT54G -01
#11
Go to Start / All Programs / Accessories / Command prompt and right click on command prompt and click run as Administrator.

While in Command Prompt, type chkdsk /f /r and enter and let it run. It will want to schedule itself to run at the next restart. Answer yes and then reboot to run the program. It will scan and try to fix any corruption or bad sectors on your hard drive and mostly remove that as a potential cause.

To test your hard drive, check the manufacturer and then get the diagnostic utility from: http://www.techsupportforum.com/hardware-support/hard-drive-support/302602-hard-drive-diagnostic-utilities.html (and/or get one from your hard drive or computer manufacturer if they have one available – it wouldn’t hurt to try both). If it fails the test, replace it. If it passes the test, then there's probably nothing wrong with it. And fully complete each test no matter how long it takes to complete - we need accurate results.

Make sure the external drive is attached, powered up, and recognized. Go to Start / Control Panel / Computer Management / Disk Management. Take a screenshot and attach it to your next reply. I'd like to see what it says about the drive.

Defragment the External HDD. Here are instructions if necessary: How to Defrag External Hard Drives in Vista | eHow.com.

Get and install updated drivers for the external HDD from the manufacturer (yes, I know if run through USB they usually aren't necessary, but sometimes they can help). Proceed as follows to get the drivers: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/driverssupport/ht/driverdlmfgr.htm. Once you have the drivers, you can install them through Device Manager as follows: http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/193584-device-manager-install-driver.html.

Now see if things are any better.

I hope this helps. If not, post back with the results of what you tried, answers to any questions I asked, and any additional information you think might be helpful (including the attached screenshot).

Good luck!
Hi Lorien
Thanks for your reply and advice. I have been away for 4 days and PC has been off, used a couple of times without external drive powered up. Read your reply and statred to apply it; F drive working ok on "Firewire" connection managed to run the "Vista" checkdisk tool from "Drive" properties it processed both parts sererately and to end and returned "no errors" messagess and "clean bill of health" on drive files and sectors?????? Attached is screen shot of " Drive Management" listing showing a healthy F drive this is the best performance I have had out of it for weeks.
I am sure this is some sort of "Software Issue" but what could it be??
Best Regards John
 

Attachments

My Computer

Lorien

Account Suspended
#12
Drives are broken into blocks which group together to form clusters which group together to form sectors. It checks them individually and as groups for errors and fixes whatever it finds - perhaps it fixed something by doing the process that may be why it's running a bit better.

That screenshot looks fine - though the drive seems to be getting a bit full (and that can affect performance and if it gets too much closer to 100% then eventually you won't be able to deframent and start having other issues as it really needs a bit of free space to operate properly).

I've no idea what the software issue might be (assuming it isn't a hardware or driver issue - with the drive OR with the computer) - it could be a Windows update or some other update or some type of system file corruption or it could be something changed in your system configuration without you wanting it to. That's why I suggested the System Restore. It doesn't affect your data, but returns you to the condition you were in before the problem started and hopefully that might solve the problem. I plan to suggest other tests and procedures if that one didn't work.

But if it's working fine now, maybe we should leave well enough alone. On the other hand, if you mean better but still not good enough, then start with the System Restore to see if that helps. If not, we'll move on from there.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inc. MP061 Inspiron E1705
    CPU
    2.00 gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo 64 kilobyte primary memory
    Motherboard
    Board: Dell Inc. 0YD479 Bus Clock: 166 megahertz
    Memory
    2046 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 (Microsoft Corporation - WDDM) [Di
    Sound Card
    SigmaTel High Definition Audio CODEC
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Generic PnP Monitor (17.2"vis)
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1200 pixels
    Hard Drives
    Hitachi HTS541616J9SA00 [Hard drive] (160.04 GB) -- drive 0, s/n SB2411SJGLLRMB, rev SB4OC74P, SMART Status: Healthy
    Case
    Chassis Serial Number: 5YK95C1
    Mouse
    Logitech HID-compliant Cordless Mouse
    Keyboard
    Standard PS/2 Keyboard
    Internet Speed
    1958 Kbps download ; 754.8 Kbps upload
    Other Info
    Optiarc DVD+-RW AD-5540A ATA Device [CD-ROM drive]

    Dell AIO Printer A940

    Conexant HDA D110 MDC V.92 Modem

    6TO4 Adapter
    Broadcom 440x 10/100 Integrated Controller
    Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter
    Microsoft ISATAP Adapter
    Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface

    Router Linksys / WRT54G -01