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external hard drive (drives) intermittent

Posted on 2006-07-02
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Working on a Dell Inspiron 8200 Windows  XP Home (SP2) and as many laptop users, I have limited HDD space.  I have 2 (what were internal HDD) each in a BYTECC external HDD enclosure.  Each HDD is a Seagate 7200 120Gb.  They both work fine when hooked up to other machines.  They are each partitioned in roughly half so there are really 4 disks that, when hooked up, should appear.

Since this is an older laptop, I have a DLink USB card which seems to funtion normally.

I've tried the following to try to get this to work but only end up friggin frustrated.  

What is happening is that there are times when the computer is on that I power up the HDD and all 4 partitions show up as drive F, G, H, and I.  Most times however, either none of the drives will show up or only 2 partitions (from 1 of the HDD) shows up.  I've tried moving the master/slave jumpers to different positions on each drive but there doesn't seem to be any consistent way to make them all appear.

I've also tried powering up the laptop with both enclosures already powered up, but most of the time they still don't show up.  

I've also swapped the HDD into the other external enclosures, but that does not seem to make any difference as to which drive shows up and which one does not.

I'm really stumped but figure that there must be something that I am doing which is causing this not to work correctly.  Does anyone have any ideas on where I can begin to isolate and try to fix the problem so all 4 partitions show up every time?

Thanks in advance.  

Tracy

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Question by:flyt4tmn
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by:techsupport101
ID: 17028189
You may want to try to update the drivers to the USB adaptor. If the computer is not seeing them, it is obvious it is having trouble communicating with the drives. You might also want to swap the USB cable you are using as it may be faulty.
-techsupport_[101]
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 17028865
Trying to run 2 USB drives partitioned into total 4 disks on a USB cable (or basestation) from a laptop is really pushing the technology -- generally you are lucky if ONE USB drive is detected consistently by a laptop.  You can try getting DELL drivers specific for that controller and installing those drives, you can also try MAPPING the remote drives to a permanent drive letter, that can often help.  But in the end, if you are getting intermittent recognition, that is what you can expect from USB on a laptop.

If you need 250GB storage, why not buy it as an internal drive?  If the MB cannot see this, you have already exceeded the laptop capacity havent you?  SO these disposable throw-away commodities you call laptops, they are only good for a year or two before you have to upgrade ... so that is the solution.
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17029199
ok - installed the drivers for the adapter per the instructions on the D-Link website - now the actual card shows up by name but has exclamation points by it.  Not sure how to fix this.

With regards to throwaway commodityies as being so called laptops - i'm not asking your opinion about my setup unless there is something that does not require significant amounts of cash to fix the issue (like buying a new laptop at the moment, using only a desktop (one that meets your approval)),...sure, it might be a bit obtuse, but i disagree with the fact that i'm lucky if even one drive shows up.  By your reasoning, either everyone who buys an external drive is extremely stuipid or lucky as I suspect you would say.  If external drives through a USB 2.0 PCMCIA card worked half as bad as you say they do, then why do sompanies keep making them....i'll give you a minute to think about it...


People BUY them becuase they work...not, for either of the formerly stated reasons.  So, I guess spending 129 bucks for a Dell Compatiable Internal Drive as compared to the 50 buck hard drives is probably your best solution.  Sorrry, can't really accept that as an answer.

Ok - so how about 2 HDD each with 1 partition.  Does that push the limit of the technology as well?  Maybe just one 200Gb HDD would be better.  I'll friggin partition them however I can to get them to work...come one scrathcyboy, give me reasoned solutions like techsupport101, insted of  half-baked opinions from a Desktop Junkie.  

Any other ideas anyone?  Dell does not seem to have specific drivers for this.  Is it worth trying another card in place of the DLink?  Should I repartition them...I don't care how they are partitioned...just so they show up consistently.

Tracy
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by:techsupport101
ID: 17029290
If the card is showing exclamation points, you may want to try to reinstall the driver as a problem may have occured during installation. These links may be of some use: http://forums.driverguide.com/showthread.php?t=5136 , http://experts.about.com/q/Hard-Drive-Problems-2113/External-Hard-drive.htm for trying to remedy the problem. Apparently, the drives may be too power hungry.
-techsupport_[101]
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17030499
Ok - tried the uninstall and reinstall routine with still the same result.

Yeah - I did see that the drives may need more power, but it confuses me then why they intermittently show up.

I may go pick up an adaptec enclosure and another USB 2.0 card to try out, but until then, i'm open to suggestions...

Tracy
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by:garycase
ID: 17031136
First, your USB connection WAS working just fine -- there was no need to install additional drivers.  If System Restore is enabled, just rollback the driver (from Device Manager) to the previous version and it will be okay again.

Next, do you have better (more consistent) recognition if you only plug ONE of the drives in to your USB connection?   If so ... and possibly even if not ... the issue here is almost certainly a USB power issue.   Few laptops can reliably power two USB devices; especially if they draw near the 500ma specifcation.   I would suggest you add a powered USB hub ==> then you'll only have ONE USB device drawing power from the laptop (the hub) and your drives should work fine.
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by:garycase
ID: 17031181
... be sure it's a POWERED hub ==>  many USB hubs are advertised as "self-powered", which really means they are NON-powered.   You want one with an A/C adapter that provides the power to the hub;  something like this:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817201010
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17032454
Gary, that is very useful!  When I get home I'll roll back the drivers.

Also, instead of using the DLINK card directly, I have http://www.iogear.com/main.php?loc=product&Item=GUH420 sitting around, but for some reason didn't think I could use it on my laptop?

Looking a bit closer at the specs I see it's backwards compatible to USB 1.1 (which I assume my Inspirion) so I guess I would just plug it into one of my USB ports on the back of the PC and try hool up the HDD through this hub?

Tracy
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by:garycase
ID: 17032500
Yes ... your hub is (a) powered and (b) will work fine on either USB v1.1 or USB v2.0.   So that's exactly what I'd suggest you use :-)    ... for your info, the Inspiron 8200's USB ports are, as you surmised, USB v1.1 ports.
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17033137
Ok - so I have a powered hub and then instead of plugging the HDD into the USB2.0 card, i plug the hub into my regular USB ports.

I get a message that these are 1.1 devices and won't operate at high speed.  But now, when I plug the hub in, this is what I see first...

-Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller
    - USB Toot Hub (5 ports)
         unused port
         unused port
         unused port
         unused port
         unused port

Now, when I plug the first external hdd (the one in the bytecc powered enclosure) into the hub this first HDD (consisting of 2 partitions, shows up fine), but when plugging the second HDD (also in a same type of powered case) it just doesn't show up.  I hear Windows make a "pop" sound, but nothing appears to happen.  The second HDD just doesn't show up.

Ideas?

TRacy

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by:garycase
ID: 17033186
Okay, first I need a bit of additional data:

Let's call your two external drives A and B.

(1)  If you plug drive A into the hub BY ITSELF do you see it okay?   ... if so, what are the drive letters associated with it?   ... then do a "Safely Remove" and then unplug it.

(2)  If you plug drive B into the hub BY ITSELF do you see it okay?   ... if so, what are the drive letters associated with it?   ... then do a "Safely Remove" and unplug it.

Post back with the results and we'll continue ...
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by:mutley69
ID: 17033571
In every external enclosure (i know of) the harddisk settings need to be master of master/stand alone.
It's very important to put the jumpers correctly on the harddisk - otherwise you may see partitions with wrong sizes and get other problems (data corruption...)

For the usb-problem - it's best to have a look at dlink website and install the correct drivers for it. (it may just be an .inf file with updated info)

you may be able to find those at: ftp://ftp.dlink.co.uk/usb ... (choose the correct directory for your card!)

Is it possible to post the dlink specs? (type of card?)
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17034371
Just to start, both drives are jumpered as "Master".  I happen to be using 2 Seagate Barracuda 7200 120Gb drives (just that they were on sale...the first one I bought about 2 years ago, the last one just purchased 3 days ago).  Coincidence that they were the same HDD.

Also Mutley - updated the drives for the DLink card, but i'm now trying to use the Iogear hub I have...I though, when trying to set this up that I needed both - turns out I don't think I do.  Dlink has drivers that I have downloaded and installed and removed again as it created problems with the card even being recognized.

Here we go Gary.

1.  Plugged drive A in - it's recognized with 2 drives letters, "F" and "G" and accesses fine - files on both partitions are found and can move back and forth from the drive to my laptop without somewhat slowly, but nothing too drastic.  There is no particular reason for 2 partitions on the drive, just did it but can make it a single parition if necessary.  Safely removed the HDD from system.

2.  Plugged in drive B in - it's recognized with 2 drive letters as well, "I" and "J" and files can be accessed fine on both partitions.  Again, no problems on it's own and no issues accessing files.

What a tangled web we weave.

Tracy
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17034388
Oh -just for shits and giggles, I plugged in drive A, powered it up and it shows up fine.  Without removing Drive A, I plugged in drive B, but only drive A appears.  Drive B, isn't anywhere to be found.

Tracy
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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 17034417
Okay, it's not doing what I thought it might be (using the same drive letters).

Next thing to check is for duplicate volume ID's.   Plug in Drive A (by itself) and in My Computer do a right-click, Properties, for drive F: ==> on the General tab (the default) what is the ID of the drive?  (the name to the right of the disk drive graphic)   If there's not one, give it one -- e.g. "Ext D1P1".   Repeat this for drive G: --> again naming it if necessary (e.g. "Ext D1P2").  Be SURE the names are different.

Now Safely Remove drive A and repeat the process for Drive B ==> be CERTAIN that the names are DIFFERENT than the were for the first drive.

If they originally had identical volume names that is probably what caused your problem.   If not, there are a couple of other things to try.

Post what the original volume names -- and the new volume names if you changed them -- are/were.
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17034544
OK - did what you suggested.

Drive A, Partition 1 was Mogwai, is now D1P1
Drive A, Partition 2 was Racing, is now D1P2

But now, after safely removing Drive A, I can't get Drive B to show up...I've tried the 4 different USB slots on the back of the hub, but nothing...zippo...no windows ding noises, nothing.  The hub still shows up, but the damn HDD won't show up now.

I'm going to swap the drives into the other cases really quick, shut down and then brb...just to make sure...

I'll report back in a few minuntes.

Tracy
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17034594
Fellas- now I can't get anything to come on - neither HDD is being recognized...I'm getting a bit tired so will come back to it tomorrow.

Gary - stick with me here...I'd really like to get this figured out. so i'll post more tomorrow.

Thanks.

Tracy
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by:garycase
ID: 17034603
Busy doing other things so may not be around the PC much ... so I'll give you a few things to try:

(1)  If you are CERTAIN the two drives have DIFFERENT volume ID's then they SHOULD work fine  (I have 3 identical WD 320GB drives in identical Penguin cases that work fine in any computer I plug them in -- all 3 are currently on this PC in fact;  the ID's are "Penguin 1", "Penguin 2", "Penguin 3";  and the fact you have multiple partitions is not an issue -- I've got a pair of identical SamSung 160GB drives in enclosures that are each partitioned in 3 partitions; and they work fine as well -- also with different volume ID's).

(2)  If they still aren't working, then try forcing specific drive letters.  i.e. plug in one drive BY ITSELF; and then use Disk Management (right-click on My Computer; select Manage; then click Disk Management; and highlight each of the partitions on the external drive one-at-a-time; right-click; and Change the drive letter.   Use some out-of-the-way letters ==> i.e. M, N, O, and P.   After you've done this with each drive (perhaps Drive A: now uses M & N, Drive B now uses O & P) try plugging both drives in.

(3)  If this still does not result in reliable recognition, there's something wrong with either the USB port; the external case (unlikely since you have several); or the XP drivers.   In that case, go to Device Manager and Remove all USB devices;  then reboot and let XP reinstall the USB drivers.   (do this without the hub connected)   See if that helps.   It would also be useful to confirm the USB port is basically working -- do you have a USB flash drive;  mouse;  camera;  etc. that you can use to confirm that your USB port is working okay?   (If any device is working reliably the port is fundamentally okay;  the only real remaining issue is power -- and the powered hub SHOULD have removed that as a factor)

I'll check my e-mail from time-to-time, but am going to be occupied a good bit the rest of the evening.
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by:garycase
ID: 17034610
... saw your note as mine posted ==> guess we're both gone for the night.   I'll check as I can tomorrow;  but the note I just posted should give you a pretty good idea of what to check.   Basically you want to be sure that your drives have different volume ID's;  are using different drive letters (sometimes assigning them works better than letting XP assign them);  and that if necessary you refresh the USB port installation (remove/re-detect the USB ports).
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by:garycase
ID: 17034626
... one other quick thought:  if you "Safely Removed" the wrong item you may have "removed" the hub.   Unplug the hub and then plug it back in ==> then try your second drive :-)
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17034637
Hilarious - just before I tried to shut it off I did the following.

1.  disconnect the power from the hub and disconnect the hub from the puter.

2.  plugged power into hub, then plugged hub into puter.

3.  Plugged Drive A (now in the other External case) and lo' and behold, there is D1P1 and D1P2.

4.  Safely removed Drive A from system and plugged in Drive B (now in the other External case) and nothing happened...the drive did not appear once plugged in.  The light on the case is green, the HDD is spinning and clicks a bit when it first powers up, but nothing...it never shows up.

5.  Did the same process listed above for the hub.

6.  Tried plugging in Drive B and still no joy.  The drive doesn't show up.

7.  Nothing needs to be safely removed since the drive isn't present so I plug Drive A back in and both partitions show up.

So - it seems like Drive A shows up more reliably than drive B (regardless of what External Enclosure it is in), but I can't seem to figure out why it shows up sometimes and not at others.  If perhaps the drive is going bad (Drive B is the older of the 2 HDD's) then if I can get it recovered enough to move my books on tape to the other drive, i'll throw the damn thing away.

Man - i'm gettin a headache - will post more tomorrow...and thanks again.

Tracy
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by:garycase
ID: 17034671
Sounds like the USB ports are working fine, and the issue is with the recognition of the external enclosures.

If you get Drive B to recognize okay, I'd then plug in Drive A without removing Drive B -- hopefully that will give you access to all 4 partitions.   It would then (as I'm sure you know) be a good idea to backup the partitions on Drive B.

But you shouldn't have this issue.   I'm wondering if your enclosures are having issues reverting to USB v1.1 ==> some enclosures don't do this well.

In any event, hang in there -- you'll find the right combination !! :-)  :-)

I'll check in from time-to-time tomorrow.

By the way, if you decide to try a different enclosure, I've had superb luck with this one (it's the only one I use anymore):  http://www.directron.com/pg380u2sl.html
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17034672
Okay - really this is it for the night - I plugged Drive B in and heard a windows "popping" noise, two of them but the drive never appeared...  Any idea why that may be happening?

t
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by:garycase
ID: 17034680
... your post popped up as I posted mine:  do NOT remove Drive B ==> look in Disk Management and see if it shows up there without any assigned drive letters  (right-click on My Computer;  select Manage; then click Disk Management)
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by:garycase
ID: 17034693
... and obviously if it does (show up in Disk Management) then right-click and Assign a drive letter :-)
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17037527
OKay - quick update this morning...messed around with the drives a bit...safely removing one, plugging in the other...through some combination of process (which, under duress of much wine by that time) I got both drives to appear....4 partitions and all 4 different drive letters.

Gary, just read your longer response from last night.  All partitions have unique identifiers and each have unique drive letters.  I have an Ipod that plugs into the USB Hub and the DLink USB Card withoutt any issue.  
For the regular USB plugs inthe back of the laptop, my cacnon camera and Thrustmaster Sim Wheel plug in and are recognized fine.

I'm in the process of transferring the data back to Drive A so drive B (the old HDD) is clean should this not happen again.

I'll check back later today with a report and obviously more questions.

Tracy
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by:flyt4tmn
ID: 17037686
Hey Gary - is it possible or is even work trying to run the USB Hub through the DLink USB 2.0 card I have in the PC.  I bought the card originally for my Ipod.

Thoughts?

Tracy
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by:garycase
ID: 17037709
The hub SHOULD work through either the built-in port (on the back) or the DLink USB v2.0 card.   Is it not working both ways ??
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