Maxtor External USB Drive becomes unallocated

Recently began using a Maxtor One Touch II as a backup device.  Intent is to do daily backups of data files to different folders... and periodically do full Ghost images... for a laptop that travels alot.

Installed the drivers for the drive without problems.
Reformatted it as NTFS.
Successfully did a Ghost image and the first daily backup.
We could browse for files and folders - you know, that stuff drives normally let you do.  

Everything got powered down... and when we powered up the next day... we could not see the drive (E:) in Windows Explorer.   Going to Disk Manager, it shows the external drive as unallocated with no drive letter.  

Called Maxtor, they advised that with XP that happens sometimes when you move it from machine to machine... but suggested we just try reformatting again.

In this case, we did not move it from machine to machine... and since the whole purpose of the external drive is to be the primary backup... this causes me a significant amount of concern (polite understatement).  

Has anyone else seen this happen?
Has anyone else seen this as "common" when you move from machine to machine?
Has anyone out there had better experience with other external USB drives for this application.

BTW... I have used earlier models of the maxtor external USB - on multiple machines - without problems before.
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I have heard people posting before with this same problem concerning USB external drives.  It seems restricted to NTFS formatted drives and it is not always a certain thing - I suspect there are other variables involved, because I have two USB Drives at home that I use on diferent machines that are 120GB and 200GB, formatted as NTFS, yet I have no problem using them on different machines nor the same machine.  I have had problems detecting USB devices if I don't safely eject the device, and I have cured this problem by removing the USB driver in device manager and letting it reinstall on reboot.  I suspect the USB driver can get corrupted over time by certain updates.
I had an issue like that to where the drive shows up unallocated.  Try going into device manager, locate the drive and right click then properties.  On the 3rd tab, (Volumes) click populate and see if that shows you anything on the drive.
Check USB root Hub in Device Manager and assure that "Alow computer to turn off this device..." is not checked.
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I have had a lot of problems with maxtor drives as a whole (not usb drives, but normal IDE drives acting up). I've never seen a maxtor drive working without hitches for more than an year, and at least 50% of those drives had to be "RMA'd" after 1 or 2 weeks. The replacement of warranties on the other hand works well, but what use is that if you have to pay for the shipment which amounts to a new drive after 2 or 3 replacements and if the replacement drive itself stops it's duty after 2 weeks.
I will never again buy maxtor...

I have not had problems yet with USB drives if I just bought an empty USB casing and added a drive of my choice. This is generaly also less expensive than when you get a finished product. What you have to take care off is that the USB device gets enough power, Make sur the USB device has it's own Powersupply.
Why not try formatting with FAT32. I have had numerous problems with NTFS and unless ur finicky abt secuirty i suggest u give it a shot. Windows has to do addiitonal steps to connect to NTFS based setups and shifting to FAT32 might just be the simple solution to solve this for you. Also prefer to attach the drive on the same USB connector everytime. Also make sure that LEgacy USB support is enabled from BIOS just in case. I hope ur USB port is adequately powered up since that can also cause disruption in its working.

There are other disadvantages when you use fat32, one of them being filesize limits of max 4GB.

M$ also doesn't advise the use of fat32 volumes larger than 32 GB.
Tomster2Author Commented:
Regarding FAT32... the other external drives I have used for backups were left as FAT32 (they come this way from the factory for Maxtor Drives.)  This one I formatted as NTFS... so there may be something to that argument.  I undersize the file size restrictions but for a Ghost image I always split it up anyway so it can be transferred to other media if necessary (Older Ghost versions: -split=650 -auto; Ghost 9.0/DriveImage has a separate options window to specify this).

What brand drives have the experts here had good experiences with?   I know IOmega makes an external usb drive.  

I know you can make your own USB drive by buying a drive and a housing, but my understanding is that the ones that are sold in a housing are supposed to be more shock resistant as they are going to be moved around a bit more than a tower would.  Not sure if that is true - but I heard that some where.

I am curious about these additional issues and I think the comments would add to the value of this thread.
I don't have any experiance with prebuilt USB drives, but I guess just about anything which doesn't have a maxtor inside would do fine...

Possibly LaCie has something in that area. Freecom may also be a good source for such products.

If you buy a 2.5" Disk and USB case, you should have less problems with possible shock, as the 2.5" drives are made for laptops mainly. Also, a 2.5" disk will draw less power, which also helps (you still often need an extra power input, sometimes via the keyboard port.
I use a prebuilt Western Digital drive, and I also have an enclosure with a large Seagate drive.  The long warranty and my experience with Seagate gives me a bias towards their equipment.
Tomster2Author Commented:
Thank you all for the comments.

I also found out that the user had switched from a USB port on the server to a USB port on a hub.  I would think that this SHOULD not matter as these drives are supposed to be portable... but....

Anyway splitting up the points as several comments were helpful in understanding/avoiding future problems.

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