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Delayed Write Error, I/O error, and Disappearing Drive

by KPoffshore11 / March 23, 2008 3:25 PM PDT

OK... I need major help...

Problem: My Lacie 500GB USB 2.0 external hard drive has two partitions on it. One is FAT32 50 gigs. The Other is NTFS 450 gigs. I started getting Delayed Write Errors on the NTFS volume after the FDCC regulations went into place on government computers. (This is a personal computer on a government network so their policies are still forced down upon us but don't affect anyone else's externals so far.) I would get error messages saying that the drive had failed and that my data was lost. The delayed write error cited $Mft as the problem file. I know this is the Master File Table by using google and so now i'm concerned that I'm SOL. I could still access the FAT32 volume fine. However when I went to access the NTFS volume it would deny me access. I seemingly fixed the problem by running chkdisk on the drives and it fixed an indexing problem on the NTFS drive. However, I soon encountered the problem again and this time both my partitions disappeared. I then booted into linux and could not see the drives there either but when i booted in windows again, voila they were there and I could fix them again with a chkdisk. Now it has happened yet again but repeating my earlier process of booting into linux and then windows does not allow me to even see the drives. I have confirmed that my USB ports work correctly. The problem seems to be isolated to the external hard drive because it does not show up on other computers either. I am trying to avoid sending it back to the manufacturer to be wiped and repaired. Any ideas?

System specs:
Dell Latitude D620
Windows XP Professional
Service Pack 2
Centrino Duo

FYI the external drive does power on (power source is external) and the LED lights up yet the computer fails to recognize the device.

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by KPoffshore11 / March 23, 2008 3:46 PM PDT

the drive also would make a lot of humming and clicking noises until I ran the first chkdisk on it. Lacie said it was probably not getting enough power... I don't know how I would fix that but the chkdisk seemingly fixed it until I kept encountering that delayed write failure.

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Have You Tried???
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 24, 2008 3:41 AM PDT

Although the errors you're seeing certainly could be the result of a failing drive, it's possible the motherboard drivers need updating to include better support for the USB connections.. Since it appears you may have an Intel motherboard, try downloading and use their chipset installation utility and see if it fixes the problem.. Verify that your chipset is supported by the updated driver at the link below:

Intel INF Update Utility

A few other Delayed Write Failure "fixes" are listed in the link below:

Hope this helps.


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Tried it...
by KPoffshore11 / March 24, 2008 11:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Have You Tried???

Yeah I tried that and it didn't help. The websites common solution was pretty much to purchase a new hard drive. I don't want to lose my data. And I don't want to purchase a new hard drive.

Interesting: I checked the "safely remove hardware" list and it had a usb mass storage device listed and upon reviewing the properties it was my Lacie drive however it did not denote the two partitions or assign them drive letters. I proceeded to uninstall the driver associated with it seeing that Lacie says there is no specific driver needed with XP. Upon uninstalling, rebooting and plugging back in, it recognized the Lacie usb drive yet still no partitions available via "My Computer". Any ideas?

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'I don't want to lose my data.'...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 25, 2008 12:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Tried it...

..."And I don't want to purchase a new hard drive."

You won't lose your data as long as you backed it all up. Did you? Although external hard drives are great tools, my advice to those who use them: Buy two!.. Use the second one for a backup of the first.

If the drive is headed south, you could always try removing the hard drive from the external enclosure, then purchase a second USB enclosure to see if it will be recognized there.. Other than that, since it appears as if the external drive is no longer functioning correctly, your best bet is to explore professional recovery services.

Hope this helps.


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by KPoffshore11 / March 25, 2008 1:29 AM PDT

Unfortunately, this drive was my backup of my laptop on one partition and the other was a huge music library, video collection, and games. I do not have a backup of it. I would resort to paying to fix it if I had to. I looked at spinrite and i'm afraid it won't work for me seeing that the drive needs to be recognized for it to work. I am in the process of support with the manufacturer right now but I have refrained from that due to their standard operating procedure of reformating the drive upon completion of repairs. Any good recovery programs out there that would work for my situation?

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Lessons Learned....
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 25, 2008 2:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Backup

If the drive doesn't function, the recovery program available to most users don't do the job.. The drive will probably need to be removed and placed in another enclosure for it to be detected.. I've already suggested that this might be available to you if you have the technical knowledge to remove the drive from it's current enclosure and place it in a new one..

If not, one such recovery company is at the link below.. But it will cost you..:

Hope this helps.


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No Kidding
by KPoffshore11 / March 25, 2008 3:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Lessons Learned....

Wow I never realized it would cost that much... $100 for evaluation and list of recoverable files then a minimum of $500 to repair. For that amount of money I could buy a very nice monitor AND replace most of the audio and video files.

Thank you for your help. Seeing that I don't have that kind of money, I've come down to pulling the drive out and directly connecting it or as a last resort sending it to the manufacturer to be reformatted.

Once again thank you and any other ideas would be appreciated.

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I've read through this and ...
by Edward ODaniel / March 25, 2008 4:41 AM PDT

All I could suggest was already covered BUT ...

Personal computers on a government network are a rarity ESPECIALLY if the government agency handles ANT confidential information.

The few times I have actually seen personal computers allowed to attach to a government net they were rather restricted in that writing to any removable media was a restriction and almost all files worked on had to reside on a network server rather than the personal computer.

Check with your IS personnel and see if they have any such restrictions in place and how they have established the restrictions. Back when I was working on government nets we didn't have USB peripherals but we did have floppies and Bernoulli drives and often the software in use corrupted their partition tables.

Your IS personnel might be able to help here.

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Government Network
by KPoffshore11 / March 25, 2008 5:45 AM PDT

I am a midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and we fall under somewhat of a rare situation. We have personal computers with no access to confidential information but under the FDCC we still follow security restrictions. Other students don't have a problem with their external hard drives so I have isolated it to being a problem with my drive. But you are right, our access restrictions are severely limited because we access the internet via a government network.

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Two suggestions if you haven't tried these
by Steven Haninger / March 25, 2008 8:12 AM PDT

If your BIOS allows delays for USB devices such as hard drives to spin up to a ready state, see if you can increase that time. If not, you can try turning on the external after the system has started, you are logged on and all services loaded. I've a drive that's a bit more sluggish than the others and I'd encounter delayed writes until allowing additional time spin up. The drive might show in explorer but I'd find it not accessible until I learned this workaround.

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