For error 39: see http://www.pchell.com/hardware/cd_drive_error_code_39.shtml
For your external:
1. Try it on yet another PC (desktop or laptop)
2. Try another external on this laptop
This simple experiment will tell you if it's a problem with your external or with the laptop of your friend.
The laptop I usually use is in for repairs so I'm trying to set up everything I need on a friends laptop using my external hard drive.
I plug it in and absolutely nothing happens. It's not in the systems tray, device manager or in my computer.
I'm not sure if it's relevant or not but I also noticed that the DVD drive is also missing from my computer. It is, however, in device manager with error code 39 (I've tried updating the drivers but doesn't work)
The light on the hard drive flickers very quickly.
It's a Siemens Futitsu laptop running Vista business. My external is Maxtor.
I've been reading forums all day and can't seem to find any solution that works. I hope you'll be able to help.