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External HD Getting I/O Errors - Use CHKDSK?

I've got an external hard drive (200GB Cavalry, it's been working swimmingly for the last six months) that recently started giving me "I/O device errors" when trying to save or move large (over 700 MB) files to/from.

I've already done some troubleshooting (switched USB cables, tried using it on a different computer) to determine that it is in fact the HD and not USB drives, a specific USB port, etc. The computers I've tried using it on all use Windows XP.

If the drive is dying and I run CHKDSK on it, is it possible CHKDSK will make it worse because of its attempts to automatically repair files?

Thank you for any assistance.

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Comments
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(NT) Make it worse? No.
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For better or worse where is the backup?

I sometimes discover these externals are being used for storage without any backup. While I think chkdsk is a good idea, are you ready if some twitchy drive or USB external vanishes? I've never found chkdsk to cause this but it can push a failing external over the edge.

Are you ready?
Bob

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