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Word will not open docs if computer is connected to external hard drive

by vistacal / March 18, 2004 8:25 PM PST

If I use a external hard drive with word docs - word will not open the docs - system message that word is not responding - sits forever with hourglass symbol. Anyone experience this? Any solution? Word will work fine if I open files on internal c drive.

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Questions and general troubleshooting to get a better picture.

- How is external hard disk connected?
- Any problems associated with device in Device Manager?
- Any problems viewing the disk (folders, files) in Explorer?
- Can you copy a file to c: with Explorer?
- And from c: to the external drive?
- What's your OS?

Open a command window. I assume the disk is e: (substitute the correct drive-letter, please).

- Copy any file on the disk to the hard disk. Something like copy e:\myfile.doc c:\windows\temp (use dir e: to find short filenames, or use long filename in quotes). Note the error message.
- The other way arond. Copy a file from c: to e: Note the error message.
- Open an existing (copy it first, if necessary) .txt file on the removable drive with Notepad. What happens?

If the problem turns out to be more general than with only Word, post again in Computer Help forum, or the forum of the appropriate OS.
Note the workaround if it's only a Word problem: copy the file to be edited to your hard disk, edit it, and copy it back. Clumsy, unpractical, but definitely not unworkable.


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Re:Word will not open docs if computer is connected to external hard drive

OS windows xp home
connected USB
excel works fine part of the suite
can access docs in explorer
bought word perfect suite (after rebate 19.95) because microsoft wanted $200 to trouble shoot.
Word Perfect works fine with the external USB drives. no problems.
Makes no sense that word won't work. but thats microsoft
thanks for your reply

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Re:Re:Word will not open docs if computer is connected to external hard drive

I take it that you find the problem is solved well enough? And I hope I didn't insult you with all my rather simple and stupid questions.

The difference between Word and Excel might be that Word sets the archive bit on a file on opening it (even if it isn't changed at all), while Excel doesn't. I've never understood why Word does so, and it's utterly impractical when you've got a backup scheme based on the archive bit (which is what it's meant for). Anyway, the File/Open window in Word (97 at least) has a little known small button in the upper right which has an 'open as read-only' option.

Maybe Word does something while opening the file that the driver of the external hard disk doesn't support. Just for the record, can you try to open such a file on the external drive as a read-only file? If that works, go and complain where they made that driver!
I would be interested to know the effect of this small change.

Did you consider free Openoffice ( as an alternative? It's more compatible with Word then WordPerfect. But it might be able to read a file on your external harddisk (unless, of course, it's so compatible that it doesn't either :-)).


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Re:Re:Re:Word will not open docs if computer is connected to external hard drive

Thanks for your info - no offense taken.
I to my external hard drive directory - double clicked on my word docs folder and received the following error message "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error"
From this it appears that maybe the problem lies with Maxtor external hard drive - I will check their web site for drivers or other info-You are right.
Thank you very much for your valuable help. I will keep you informed. thanks again.

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Re:Re:Re:Re:Word will not open docs if computer is connected to external hard drive

Maxtor was no help. Said they are not aware of any incompatibility with word.

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Just a short reply.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 28, 2004 9:55 PM PST

1. USB 1.1 cables on USB 2.0 devices sometimes work, sometimes not. Have run into cases with USB 1.1 internal cables and errors happen.

2. notes that many issues swirl around:
a. BIOS being out of date.
b. "Odd" settings of said BIOS. Hint: try defaults and USB enabled.
c. Motherboard and USB filter drivers. Highly dependent on the make/model motherboard, but the truth is that Microsoft has nothing to offer here. Windows Update and Driver Update do nothing to fix this.

Beyond that, any pest or parasite can cause any number of odd bumps and errors. Hint? Adaware, Spybot, Cwshredder, Housecall and HPGURU's HOSTS file may help keep the parasites away.


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Re:Just a short reply.
by vistacal / March 31, 2004 10:06 PM PST
In reply to: Just a short reply.

thanks for the info.
same thing happens on 2 different computers, gateway desktop 3 years old, and a new toshiba notebook, 3.0 pent 4.
i will try to switch usb cables and see what happens.s'

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