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External USB Harddrive Freezes on Write

by livngston / November 16, 2009 10:59 PM PST

I have a 320GB WD Passport Elite external USB drive. Previous to that drive I had a 160GB model which always worked fine. This drive itself initially worked okay. Recently it has been locking up while writing to the drive. I can be using backup software or merely copying things from Windows Explorer. It doesn't matter if it is a large or small file, it just randomly stops copying within a few seconds after the copying starts. I still see the copy dialog open indefintely, but the LED lights on the drive stop flashing and remain solid (it sounds like the drive is spinning continously but the drive head is not moving). Usually at this point, I cannot even cancel the copy command, and if I try going into "My Computer" explorer locks up until I pull the USB cable out.

Reading from the drive is fine, it is only the write commands.

The drive works fine on my laptop and at work, and only doesn't work on my desktop at home. I also tried another 250GB WD drive and it has a similar write failure.

I also tried using a USB Y connector to utilize two USB ports (whether on the front or back ports) and still get failures.

Finally, this was a problem under Vista 32bit. I just formatted this computer (Dell XPS 400) and installed Windows 7 Home Premium and still has the same issue.

Any suggestions?

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Just an idea.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 16, 2009 11:36 PM PST

I had this issue on another machine and in the end it was the motherboard chipset drivers and not the OS or the drive.

I see you write you installed Windows 7 but no mention of motherboard chipset drivers. I can't find the model number to look up a driver for you.

I'd try the motherboard drivers first and as always do not use Windows to find them.

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USB EXternal Drive Won't Write
by livngston / November 17, 2009 12:14 AM PST
In reply to: Just an idea.

As far as I know it has the most up to date drivers. It is a Dell XPS 400. Dell does not give me the motherboard manuf. I installed the latest chipset driver from their website (dated back to 2006). All I know is it has an Intel 945P chipset.

Still has the write problems on USB externals.

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Still not writing
by livngston / November 20, 2009 12:10 AM PST

I have updated the motherboard chipset drivers as well as the USB Hub drivers.

I can say that I don't think it is my USB controller. I can connect my iPod Touch to the same USB port, and set it to copy gigs of music without problems and the USB Root Hub shows a consistent draw of power (500mA as I recall for the iPod Touch).

Anyone else have any suggestions? WD External Drives work on the native Windows device driver, they do not provide other drivers. Windows 7 in use here.

This drive worked fine when I first got it, but all of a sudden is having these write issues where it freezes during a copy to the drive (doesn't matter the file size - sometimes it freezes after copying a meg or two, and sometimes after half a gig worth of files).

Another Passport Drive I borrowed from work had the same issue, yet both my drive and the one from work, function completely fine on my laptop and my office computer.

I did a scan of the drive and no bad sectors or anything.

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Let's take another tack.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 20, 2009 12:18 AM PST
In reply to: Still not writing

Look at your security softwares. If you have more than one installed I see troubles. In the case of NORTON they do extra scans on external drives.

Known sometimes toxic combos are Spybot's Teatimer and norton and other titles. I can't write them all down but will toss out Teatimer then test then toss out Norton, Mcafee and retest.

Also, I will never use the front USB ports on a desktop. Ever. Even if other things work there. That's a lesson I learned and will share.

You have the motherboard drivers up to date so off to explore other issues.

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Let's take another tack.
by livngston / November 20, 2009 1:08 AM PST

Thanks. The security software is not the issue. I do have Norton installed, but I disabled it. I actually formatted the computer clean and installed Windows 7 and had this problem on the clean install before installing any other programs other than the OS default settings.

I have tried both the front and back USB ports. And I have tried using a Y connector to utilize two USB ports in case it was not getting enough power. Still the same result.

So far I have been able to copy gigs of data to my iPod (which might not use as much power admittedly.) But I have not seen anything to indicate a USB power issue. They system reports full power to each port (and yes they are all 2.0 ports per the motherboard specs).

I did run the Dell Hardware diagnostics and it found nothing wrong with the RAM, Motherboard, CPU, USB Controller, ect. (for whatever worth those Dell Diagnostics are).

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 20, 2009 1:15 AM PST

That Y cable is your bit clue.

USB powered drives continue to be a good money maker for tech shops.

Use a wall power unit to power that drive next time.

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Wall Power Unit
by livngston / November 20, 2009 1:31 AM PST
In reply to: AHA.

How do you use a wall power unit to power the Passport elite drives? They only have a mini usb connector, no AC adaptor. Why does it work fine on other desktops and laptops?

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The bane of USB powered drives is this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 20, 2009 2:17 AM PST
In reply to: Wall Power Unit

They don't work everwhere.

I'd install some other PCI USB 2.0 card or look at trying this ->

In closing there was a strange machine from time to time. Here's what fixed it. I installed an USB 2.0 HUB inbetween the drive and the PC.

In another PC I had to disable USB LEGACY in the BIOS. Sorry but I couldn't find the make, model of this desktop to see if that was an option.

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Having the same problem
by jesibot / March 16, 2013 8:07 PM PDT

Hi, livngston

Did you ever find a solution to this problem? I've been having the same issues for a month or so and your posts are really the only ones I can find that describe the confounding issues I've been having with writing to USB externals.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Too many times. Yes.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 17, 2013 12:43 AM PDT

As you could have some wall or USB powered drive it matters which. Also it could be getting too hot or is just old. Please start a new discussion about your drive. Supply details and we'll go over what I'd try on your drive.

HOWEVER, the first step is to backup what you can't lose.

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ugh subject lines
by jesibot / March 17, 2013 8:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Too many times. Yes.

Thanks, Bob, I appreciate the message and likely will do that, but I'm keen to hear from livngston first as he's the only person I can find who has first-hand experience with this specific matter.

- Jess

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"I had this issue on another machine"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 18, 2013 3:44 AM PDT
In reply to: ugh subject lines

Sorry but I have seen this too. But in my case I solved this over a hundred times and for quite a long list of reasons.

Good luck in your quest.

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