Up until now, my external hard drive has been working fine with no problems. It is used to hold all my music/videos/other media.
I leave my external HDD plugged into my computer almost all the time, and so when I boot my computer, there are no problems.
Yesterday, I booted my computer and the time it took to go from the "Windows" loading screen with the green bars, to the login screen was a lot longer (from around 3 seconds, to around 5 minutes). Also, the time between typing in the login details to displaying the full desktop + icons was longer (around 5-10 minutes).
Even when i've logged in, it just displays my background for a long time and I have to CTRL-ALT-DEL and restart explorer.exe around 5 times for it to finally display the icons and "start" bar; and even then, the whole system runs slowly - no windows open when the icons are clicked.. It's a nightmare..
So I decided to systematically go through potential problems.. I first scanned my whole computer for viruses, malware, spyware, everything. There were one or two hits, which were cleaned easily.
I then checked msconfig for any weird startup processes, and also used Autoruns to checkup on any strange activity. I spent a few hours searching through Google for similar problems, and those which came up just had the step-by-step instructions of checking msconfig etc etc etc, all those which i've already tried. And even after all this checking, it still took ages to boot/login.
I then went to the last resort and reinstalled Windows, formatting everything in the process.
I then booted the computer, and things worked fine! So I then set about reinstalling all my motherboard drivers, sound drivers, etc etc, and I had no problems. I downloaded my anti-virus etc programs, Firefox, yadda yadda.. no viruses involved there.
I then decided to install my external hard drive drivers; so I plugged the Ext-HDD into the computer (it wasn't connected to it while I reinstalled Windows) and the drivers installed, and it said the installation was successful.
So I then went on My Computer and double clicked on 'E:' (the external hdd), and it loaded up a blank window, with no documents. Hmm, I thought, that's strange. I know there are definitely files on there (i'm 100% sure of that) but for some odd reason, they aren't being picked up.
I then continued installing my general software (and a few games), and then restarted my computer.
The computer boots and by now i'm hitting my head on the table yelling "AAAAHHH!"..
I then quickly calmed down and thought "okay, since the last boot where it worked perfectly, I installed X, Y, and Z, and attached the HDD - The software i've checked before and that hasn't been the cause, so i'll try removing the EXT-HDD" .. and voila, it worked perfectly again.
So I came to the conclusion that it's my external hard drive that is somehow blocking windows from working nicely. Windows and my External Hard drive have suddenly decided to fall out - and I don't know the cause of this. I need access to this Hard Drive, it has a few important files on. But every time I connect it up after logged in, no files appear - it's just a blank window (and I repeat, i'm 100% sure that there are files on it). And the problem isnt only when booting, even if i'm already logged in, and I have programs running - If I plug in the Ext-HDD, the whole computer slows down suddenly. I even tried doing a full virus/spyware/etcetc scan of the drive, but it would just crash every time.
I tried plugging the HDD into a differnet USB port - no luck.
I check the device manager for any yellow alerts (and also went view>show hidden) - no alerts.
I did a virus scan on the drive, but it only appeared to have scanned 39 files (whereas I have around 120 GB worth of media on it), and it says that the "Last Object Scanned was: C:\WINDOWS\System32\config
eskt op.ini".. A file which clearly isn't on the HDD itself. It also returned no hits in terms of viruses.
The Ext-HDD started playing up on the 12th July - and on that day nothing was installed or modified on the computer which may have caused it. I tried doing a System Restore to 11th July (before I reinstalled Windows), but the problem wasn't fixed.
Any help would be appreciated. :D
Ext-HDD = Philips SPD5100CC 160GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/tech-data/B000EI78EE/ref=dp_nav_0/026-3791637-4946832?ie=UTF8&n=560798&s=electronics
Motherboard = Asus A8V
OS = Windows XP SP2