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Old 08-04-2009, 04:58 PM   #1
The 9th Sage
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Default External Hard Drive dying?

I have kind of a weird problem. It's driving me crazy because I can't figure out what the exact reason for this problem is. Anyway, I have this external drive use for taking games and videos with me when I travel, it has a couple of partitions on it (in case you were wondering, one was Fat32, the other WBFS, for the backing up of my Wii games). Recently the WBFS partition was acting like it was screwed up in some way, so I reformatted it and all, and everything looked ok, but games on it wouldn't work. The FAT32 partition could read and write data, so it seemed nothing was wrong with it.

Now, last night Windows (XP SP3, btw) began refusing to even see the drive. The computer would literally freeze when I'd plug it in. Programs that were loaded up already would continue to work, but if I were to start something (say Firefox) it would seriously not load until the very moment I unplugged the drive (and if My Computer is open, I would often see the drive appear for a fraction of a second on unplugging the drive). It doesn't appear to be the cable or the USB port itself (tried another cable, and I've tried several USB ports).

Since Windows wouldn't see it, I booted an Ubnutu Live CD and used Gparted to repartition it. Now, NOTHING will load it. Ubnutu sees that something is there, but doesn't seem to want to mount it (Gparted appears to work endlessly). Windows just keeps on doing it's thing.

I might just have to get a new one, but does anyone have any ideas on how I might be able to check for sure that the drive is failing? I'd try to open the enclosure, but I've tried before and couldn't get it. Not even sure if I could properly get the drive out if I did anyway.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:56 PM   #2
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Do you know what type of hard drive it is inside? Most hard drives are IDE, SATA, you name it, but you could try switching it out for another hard drive (to check to see if its the controller) or plugging that hard drive in to your computer, like an internal drive (to check to see if it's the drive)

You never know, I had a controller burn out on me a few times. One actually got to the point where the second I plugged it in, it would trip the breaker.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:49 AM   #3
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Hmm...I'm not sure which it is. I was thinking it was Sata, but now that you mention it I'm not sure. Hard part is figuring out how to open it up without bashing it with some sort of blunt object. I suppose if it isn't working (and it isn't) I haven't much to lose. :P
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:59 AM   #4
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Alright, for those wondering...I managed to get the outer casing open and remove the drive...it looks none the worse for wear, but it has the same behaviour when plugged directly into my machine that it did with the enclosure, so yep...bad drive.

Btw, I was wrong...it was an IDE drive.
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:49 AM   #5
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Aw, that annoying.
I hope you didn't lose any files that you didn't have other copies of.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:24 AM   #6
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If you do still have important files on the drive (with the talk of reformatting/partitioning, I couldn't tell) then try putting the drive in the freezer overnight. I've actually resurrected a couple of different drives long enough to copy the data from them using that technique.
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Old 08-06-2009, 03:49 PM   #7
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Oh, InVerse makes a good point; I had forgotten about doing that. If I remember correctly, on one occasion my sister succeeded in getting some files off a dying laptop hard drive of hers by doing that.

On another occasion, I refrigerated my old laptop itself to buy myself a few extra seconds without crashing (it had been crashing during POST when it got to a certain point where Intel "SpeedStep" began scaling the CPU speed and voltage up from the base level) so that I was able to get into the CMOS setting page and disable SpeedStep, locking the CPU into the lowest speed and voltage. That mostly solved the crashing, though of course the computer was slower. I don't think it was a heat dissipation issue on the CPU chip itself -- the crashes had been happening before the processor even had a chance to get particularly hot. I think somewhere along the electrical bus to the CPU, something was actually shorting when the voltage went up, because I actually was hearing an electrical short affect the sound system, even after the computer shut off, every time it crashed. (For a few seconds after the system had entirely crashed/shut-off, the speakers made crackling noises as charge dissipated somewhere.) I tried blowing away dust, reseating components, etc. to no avail; the only thing that worked was blocking the CPU from ramping-up it's speed/voltage.
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Last edited by Isildur; 08-06-2009 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 08-07-2009, 03:08 PM   #8
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Nah, nothing important really. Just some media files I had elsewhere and some backups of my games that I can simply remake from the discs anyway. The annoying part to me is having to buy a new drive. >_<
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:31 AM   #9
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Oh wow, I can't believe I forgot the freezer trick too. one of our 2TB external Hard drives was tumbled over that stores part of the archive of all the videos we ever air on SKTV, rendering our channel broken. the Hard drive was toast, but then someone came in and suggested putting the drive in the freezer... Fair enough, we had nothing to lose. Well after taking it back out, we were able to keep the drive up and running long enough to recover about 99% of our broadcasts, unable to recover just two shows.
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