Storage forum

General discussion

External Hard Drive Not Recognized

by pzebleckis / January 17, 2010 9:29 AM PST

When attaching my USB external hard drive, Windows displays the following message.

USB Device Not Recognized
One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it.

For assistance in solving this problem, click this message.

When I click the message, the external hard drive is listed as "Unknown Device".

I was able to access this drive just fine a few days ago. The issue occurs on both my desktop PC running Windows XP and my laptop running Windows 7.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: External Hard Drive Not Recognized
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: External Hard Drive Not Recognized
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 17, 2010 11:29 AM PST
Collapse -
External Hard Drive not Recognized
by DottieMR / January 17, 2010 12:42 PM PST

I had the exact same thing happen to me! After reading several forums on the internet. I checked my cables and the USB cable must be loose on the Maxtor hard drive I have. I wiggled it and was able to find a spot to get a good connection. Make sure that it is plugged in electrically and also to the computer so you can see that it's trying to read it. That's what worked for me. Now my plan to either get another external hard drive and/or back my files up on c/d also! BUT my problem is that even c/d's aren't readible sometimes. What does a person do to rely on keeping files backed up? I have tons of pictures!

Collapse -
Backup is...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 17, 2010 11:22 PM PST

More than one copy. Here I have 3 copies and another on DVD!

We only lose what we didn't backup.

Collapse -
Did all the above except...
by ericstjohn / January 20, 2010 11:30 AM PST
In reply to: Backup is...

...I never got around to making multiple backup files. I'm a novice with only about 4-5 years of experience learned the hard way: trial by error. I now feel reasonably confident enough to order the parts and build a rig on my own. BUT...
My issue is similar as above:
Maxtor OneTouch4 Mini, new from evilBay two years ago. Used as backup storage for my main hdd. Four years of music and video production buried now b/c it, the ext hdd, has disappeared from My Computer.
In addition to extensive "googling" for solutions, I've tried:
Different cnxn cable, different usb ports, UDA (a Universal Drive Adaptor) kit w/power (a new trick I learned today from utoob).
The first time I tried a different cable to a front of machine port I got that error message. Second time, nothing. Tried the UDA and got the message the first time. The drive did appear briefly in the usb root hub sub but not under usb controllers or disc devices. It quietly "clicks" like a very tiny critter's inside making "giddy-up" noises and it has that electronic noise a cell phone makes over the car radio when passing a tower. I don't feel it 'vibrate' anymore when it's in my palm, either. SO... should I even bother trying to jack this thing straight to the mobo? I have room and another sata cable.
Funny. I was just "googling" to find a way to burn very large files to multiple discs when this mess hit the fan.
Oh. Custom rig w/ xp pro sp3, blah, blah, blah... freshly reformatted only days before this issue. That's how all that stuff got on the Maxtor to begin with.
I need what you'd call a miracle.

Collapse -
Oh, I forgot,
by ericstjohn / January 20, 2010 2:17 PM PST

Some history: A couple of weeks ago, while organizing my photo files and folders, I ran across several that I could not rename or move because the "directory is corrupt or can't be read." I could, though, 'copy as' to wherever I wanted within this malfunctioning Maxtor drive. The same held to be true of some audio files. This is what prompted me to begin the preparation to back everything up so I could either re-format the drive or get rid of it before I lost everything. Time, I guess, was not on my side.

Collapse -
"Used as backup storage for my main hdd. Four years of music
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 21, 2010 9:41 PM PST

"Used as backup storage for my main hdd. Four years of music and video production buried now b/c it, the ext hdd, has disappeared from My Computer."

If that is backup, then the main hdd should have had the originals. Unless you didn't mean to write it was backup but actually STORAGE which we know is just another story waiting to happen.

The SELF RECOVERY is well known from pulling the drive out into a desktop to cables, cases and the forum sticky items but I can't tell if you've done all that and need to do the final call to


Collapse -
by pzebleckis / January 20, 2010 11:33 PM PST

I have continued to make attempts at connecting this hard drive and have been unsuccessful. The only two things I could think of that is causing this issue are that either the hard drive went bad or the casing/cable/connection is bad. In order to test for this, I am in the process of obtaining a new case/cable for the drive. I will post the result once I am able to test it.

Collapse -
If you're gonna do that...
by ericstjohn / January 21, 2010 3:40 AM PST
In reply to: UPDATE

You may as well spend the twenty bucks it'll cost ya to get a UDA. That way you will know if it's drive itself or an enclosure issue. At least that's what I've been able to surmise.
Afterward, you're free to either buy another enclosure or a different external altogether.
Although I've done this test, I'm still not dissuaded from hoping it's an undiscovered issue with mine. I'm still waiting for more info and then I'll do the ol' plug it straight in to the mobo trick.
Good luck!

Collapse -
Not the cable
by pzebleckis / January 21, 2010 9:31 AM PST
In reply to: UPDATE

Well, I have determined that the problem is not with the USB cable. I tried a new cable and am experiencing the same issue. Any ideas of what might be causing this?

Collapse -
Not for nuttin'
by ericstjohn / January 21, 2010 12:07 PM PST
In reply to: Not the cable

I'm kinda in the same boat as you. I'm sort of new to diy computer fixing but by necessity, I'm learning fast like you are; forums and lots of 'em. The common consensus is that there have been more bad enclosures seen than the drives themselves. Try the UDA. At least you have another really handy tool in your arsenal if it turns out to be a firmware issue and not an enclosure issue, which the UDA will confirm for you straight away. There is a host of firmware repair wares available. On this site even. Never say never, I always say. I know this gets you nearly nowhere, but, hey, it's worth twenty bucks to see.
My own twenty bucks confirmed to me that I need to find another remedy. That in itself is worth it over taking it to a "professional" who would have told me the same thing I figured out on my own. And charged me handsomely for the privilege.

Collapse -
by pzebleckis / February 20, 2010 2:57 PM PST
In reply to: Not the cable

After attempts at different things, I solved the problem. The connector inside the case had gone bad. After replacing the connector, the drive works perfect.

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!