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External USB hard drive disconnects randomly

My system is Win 2000 Server SP4.
I installed a USB2 card and a Maxtor OneTouch II 200 GB external hard drive.
I formated the new drive as NTFS with default options.

At first, everything seemed to work fine. But next day the system started to disconnect the drive with message "Unsafe removal of ..." and the same mesasge keeps popping up every few minutes, while the drive is no longer visible on the network (but it's still accessible on the server).

Any ideas?



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campinas
Asked:
campinas
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4 Solutions
 
WatzmanCommented:

Try a different USB cable.  I'm guessing that there was a momentary interruption of the connection, don't know why, but if for no reason other than that it's so easy, I'd try another cable first.  It may not help, but it won't hurt and it's almost effortless.
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campinasAuthor Commented:
I have actually installed an external USB2 hard drive on a second Win 2000 server too.
I just noticed the exact same problem on this second system. Different machines, different cables, but the same problem.
The only thing in common is the NTFS formatting of the external drives.
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sciwriterCommented:
Have you also installed the USB update for 2000?  SP4 first had the USB drivers, then they were pulled because they were defective, and they later reappeared as a separate update, but now that seems to have gone.  Needless to say, MS has had lots of problems getting 2000 to work with USB in certain situations.  Check here --
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=242062

Sounds like your problem is more one of a large NTFS partition on a removable drive not being seen from one system to the next.  Consider formatting ALL external removable drive with FAT32, asn the main partition up to 120GB and then NTFS beyond that.  This way the data on the FAT32 partition can be seen regardless of NTFS security issues and permissions inherent in NTFS.  It will probably stop these errors from occurring too, but check for updates first.
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WatzmanCommented:
Well, I'm using an external USB hard drive with an NTFS partition on Windows XP Pro machines, and I am not having any problems of this type.  I don't buy your argument that it's NTFS.  I am, like sciwriter, wondering about Windows 2000 instead of Windows XP.  As far as I know it SHOULD work, but my confidence in 2000 is far less than my confidence in XP.

Suggestion #1:  Try your external drives on a Windows XP system.  Make no changes at all, just try the drives, just as they are, on an XP system.  If it works, then my vote is that the problem is XP vs. 2K.

There's a chance that FAT32 instead of NTFS might be a "work around".  Frankly, I'm skeptical, I think that the issue is USB and Win2K, not FAT32 vs. NTFS.  But you can try it.  Personally, I don't like FAT32 partitions larger than 32 gigs, for a number of reasons.  I'm not sure in his post if Sciwriter was thinking of the 137 gig barrier when he suggested 120 gigs of FAT32 and the rest NTFS, but the 137 gig barrier does not apply here.  Not at all, not in any way.  That barrier is limited to PHYSICAL IDE interfaces and their windows drivers.  It doesn't apply to USB drives, SCSI drives, RAID drives, or even IDE drives on a PCI controller(which as seen as SCSI drives by the operating system).
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sciwriterCommented:
Watz -- you are talking XP, that has NO problem with USB.  Forget that.  2000 came out before USB 2 was even debugged, and no it doesn't work on 2000 anything like XP.  MS's patches to 2000 are in fact replete with his kind of problem, so no, you cannot apply ANY XP logic at all to windows 2000.  He doesn't need to try XP, it will work fine.  It is a 2000 issue.

As for your last paragraph, I am not even going to comment on it.  You haven't investigated the issues, or the limitations.  I realize now that you may not even realize how distracting some of your unfocussed comments are on other people's input,  so I will try to stop getting irritated at such unfocussed comments if you'll try really hard to stop making them....  deal?   :)
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campinasAuthor Commented:
The Win2000 SP4 drivers seem to be OK, as all works fine for a a day. It's only the next day the problem occurs. If I reboot the servers they'll be fine until next day.

Cannot go with FAT32 because of security reasons.

Anyway, I just called Maxtor. They said the external drive needs to be partitioned as an extended, not primary partition... It didn't make much sense to me... Why would a primary NTFS volume cause this.
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sciwriterCommented:
<< Why would a primary NTFS volume cause this.>>

Aha good point.  YEs the primary partition should only be the boot drive of the system.  I think they are onto a solution.

Only one primary partition per system, on the boot device, that is best, because USB is also a "bootable" device.
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WatzmanCommented:

Sciwriter, the 137 gig limit is in the physical IDE drivers; it's not in the OS.  I'm right.  You can connect a 160 gig drive to Windows 98 with USB and the whole drive is accessible.  That really proves the point, and nothing more needs to be said.

And yes, I understand that he has 2K and not XP.  But he also has SP4, which is supposed to support USB drives.  But trying the drive on XP is still an appropriate thing to do to make sure that the drive does not have a problem.

As to "deal?"  No, no deal.  I'll make the comments that I feel are appropriate to help the author resolve the comment.

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WatzmanCommented:

The solution may work, but I have used dozens of systems with multiple primary partitions.  Indeed, my own USB external drive is that way and I have no problems (it's a WD 200 gig in a no-name made-in China case).  Basically, the first partition on many if not most drives ends up being formatted as a primary partition (not necessarily by explicit intent or plan, but in my own experience that's just the way that most people end up formatting drives).

I don't like solutions when I don't understand why they work.
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campinasAuthor Commented:
All right, now the external volume is "extended". I'll have to wait and see if this cured the problem.
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simkissCommented:
What is the brand and model of the drive?  There are several drives that are known to fail in external USB or Firewire setups.  Also, who makes the enclosure?  Was it a bare enclosure and you added the drive, or did the drive arrive in the enclosure?  There are several enclosure BIOS-to-brand conflicts.  

I've gone through similar issues myself.

As for primary versus extended partitions, the info offered above is false (supporting Watzman here).  I use primary on all my drives (2 TB of 15 Drives; IDE, SCSI, USB, Firewire, and mapped too; Internal and External, all NTFS, from 37GB to 250GB in size: On one PC).  
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mysticaldanCommented:
Try disabling the Power Management features from the BIOS and from the COntrol Panel as well. Mostly USB problems spring from power related issues. If its not an underpowered hub it can be power management. While you are at it any chance that ur Power supply is inadequate. Maybe its just a little less than whats required and gives a split second break to the USB which might be causing this problem.

All in all it doesnt seem like a FAT32/NTFS problem to me it wud be suggested that u try and format it as a FAT32 and check results. You can always format it back as a NTFS later on.

You can also try to disable USB error detection from USB hub properties and see if that helps.

Dan
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simkissCommented:
Have you tried using it in the USB 1.1 port yet to test if it powers down?  I was having trouble with a Firewire card.  Windows kept shutting it off.  I tried a different brand and it worked fine.

If you haven't done this yet, try:

right-click on MY COMPUTER
click on PROPERTIES
click HARDWARE tab
click on DEVICE MANAGER
scroll down and expand UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS CONTROLLERS
right-click on the first USB ROOT HUB in the list (There may also be ones listed as USB Root Hub 2.0)
click on PROPERTIES
click on POWER MANAGEMENT
uncheck ALLOW THE COMPUTER TO TURN OFF THIS DEVICE TO SAVE POWER
repeat for each USB ROOT HUB entry.

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campinasAuthor Commented:
The primary/extended idea fixed the problem indeed.
Thanks for the helpfull ideas!
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