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External hard drive disappearance
Thread poster: Tamara Zahran

Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
English to Arabic
Sep 28, 2007

Dear All,

I have some external hard drives that I use for backup. On one of them I have kept all old work from beginning of 2003 to mid 2006. Now this hard drive suddenly disappeared, my PC doesn't recognize it, therefore I can't open it or use any of its contents.I don't know why this has happened, and I wonder if anyone else had a problem like mine and found a solution. It's a huge loss just forgetting about all the materials in the disk.

What happens when I connect it (to the USB port) is that I hear the sound that indicates the connection of hardware, then nothing, I open My Computer, and can't find its icon or anything that might enable me to access it. Even the device manager didn't work. The only indication to its presence is that initial sound and the ability to disconnect it safely by the "Safely Remove Hardware" function, in which it appears as:

(icon) USB Mass Storage Device
(icon) Maxtor 3200 USB Device

While when it was working I would see:

(icon) USB Mass Storage Device
(icon) Generic Volume - (L:) or (M:)...etc.
(icon) Maxtor 3200 USB Device

I would appreciate any help, as I have tried everything I know, and now left with the option of handing it to a technician who I am not confident would get my files safely out of it.

Thank you all for your help.

Tamara


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:19
German to English
Put the HD in a freezer Sep 28, 2007

This isn't a joke. Sometimes freezing a hard drive can help bring it back to life for one last time so you can rescue your files.

Here's a link explaining possible causes for HD failure:
http://www.pcmech.com/article/data-recovery-data-loss-and-drive-failures

Here's a link to freezing your HD:
http://www.trap17.com/index.php/hard-drive-freezer-trick_t26193.html

At any rate, you can't damage your hard drive any further via this method.
Good luck!


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 13:19
Member
Spanish
+ ...
Check the cable Sep 28, 2007

Have you tried using a different cable, it might be damaged.

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Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
English to Arabic
TOPIC STARTER
Yes Sep 28, 2007

Claudia Alvis wrote:

Have you tried using a different cable, it might be damaged.


I haven't tried the cable before, but I replaced it now with the cable of another working external hard drive and the problem still the same. No sign of it.

Thank you
Tamara


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Gannush  Identity Verified

Local time: 21:19
English to Turkish
+ ...
Plug the HD into another computer Sep 28, 2007

Plug your external hard-drive to another PC other than yours and check if it is working. If the HD works in another computer, it may indicate that you a problem with your computer, either software or hardware problem.

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Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
English to Arabic
TOPIC STARTER
I have tried this Sep 28, 2007

Gannush wrote:

Plug your external hard-drive to another PC other than yours and check if it is working. If the HD works in another computer, it may indicate that you a problem with your computer, either software or hardware problem.



I tried connecting it to my laptop, with the same problem. Maybe I should try the freezing solution.

Thank you,
Tamara


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:19
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
I had a similar problem - twice Sep 28, 2007

For the first time the problem was rather simple - I plugged-in the disc to another USB port: it turned out to be that it worked when plugged in to a specific port only (not to any other of the 5 USB ports available). Later on I removed all USB drivers from the system, rebooted - and everything was fine.
However, it is obviously not your case...

For the second time the problem was a bad contact in the disc casing. The solution was buying a new casing. However before doing this if would be fine to check if this would help using a different casing - maybe you could borrow a casing somewhere.


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:19
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
And one more idea Sep 28, 2007

Did you use previously this disk with the same computer? If not, perhaps this older type of disk needs additional powering. Is your disk supplied with an additional power cord?

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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:19
Member (2004)
English to Polish
HD and the case Sep 29, 2007

The external HD (usually) consist of a regular 3,5" HD and a case with the USB interface.

First of all you should determine which of the parts are not working. For that purpose you have to take out the HD from the case and test it as an internal disk (IDE or SATA) in a desktop computer (not laptop, obviously). If you are not sure how to do it, you might seek someone who does, although it is not very difficult.

I would postpone freezing until absolutely everything else fails (and it rarely does - most of the HD are at least recoverable at decent cost).


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Giuseppe C.  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:19
Member
English to Italian
Don't do it! Sep 29, 2007

Tamara Zahran wrote:

Maybe I should try the freezing solution.



Hello Tamara,

Please consider the freezing solution as the last, desperate try, as most likely, after taking your hard disk out of the freezer, air moisture will condensate on your hard drive elecronic circuits inside the usb adapter box, causing fatal damages due to short circuits when you operate the hard drive due to water between electronic components's pins.

As already said by other collegues, your problem seems to be due to the connections inside your USB adapter box or failure of some electronic communication device of the USB adapter box.

I'd also suggest to have your hard drive unit taken out of the USB adapter box, directly tested as a normal internal hard drive unit by attaching it to an appropriate internal hard drive controller cable end (as already suggested) in order to check its functionality as an internal hard drive unit, and, if OK, have the
USB adapter BOX replaced with a new one and the hard drive unit mounted inside it.

Giuseppe


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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:19
German to English
+ ...
Another option Sep 29, 2007

Here's another option for you:
I had accidentially deleted all of my information in my documents folder and initially took my external hard drive to a company that specialized in document recovery, but they were unable to recover it. After I got home, I decided to check the internet and found a company that sells software for recovering lost files. They have a demo version that is free, it will only show you that they find files and the approximate size, but no other information. Since it showed that they found about 6 gigabytes of files, which was close to what I had erased, I took a leap of faith and paid for the real thing, and then started it up. After about 1 minute or so of sitting in front of my computer, waiting for things, I started seeing my files coming across in a ticker tape, and about 30 minutes later all of my files were recovered. Here's a link to the company:
http://www.easeus.com/datarecoverywizard/

Do you remember if you accidentially dropped your hard drive or otherwise handled it a bit roughly? They can't take much abuse at all and will conk out on you quickly if dropped.
Good luck, I hope it works for you!


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xxxtlmurray
Local time: 13:19
English
Got a friend with a Mac? Probably not hardware. Sep 29, 2007

From the initial post, I doubt you have a hardware problem, as Windows knows it's a Maxstor and tried to mount it as L or M (I didn't use colons because of those silly smilies). And as an aside: Just how many drives to you have? Are you on a network with many mount points? I'm wondering how you got to L or M. Is that typical?) This stuff about freezing is totally unnecessary.

So the issue is that Windows can't mount it as a volume -- it cannot see, or it sees and cannot use -- its file allocation table.

As a quick test, do you have a friend with a Mac? My old PowerBook seems to have the capability of mounting disks otherwise dead to Windows.

I'm on the fence as if to attaching directly to your disk drive bus will help. It won't hurt, but it helps only if there is a problem with USB along the way.

A third-party recovery tool might bail you out. Good tools work sector-by-sector, not needing what's in the drive's volume data.


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 15:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe Sep 29, 2007

I'm not a specialist, but maybe (let's hope so) the problem is not the external drive but the usb port that cant read it any more. I would try my friends' pcs before freezing it, and if I did, I think I'd cover it first to avoid moisture.

It might work in another pc, maybe both your pcs arent able to read it right now.

good luck,

liliana


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xxxtlmurray
Local time: 13:19
English
More on freezing Sep 29, 2007

Further to what GiuseppeC59 said about freezing...

The thread pointed to earlier about freezing was sadly populated by a number of people who were asleep during junior high school physics.

THERMAL EXPANSION & CONTRACTION: Metal of course changes quite a bit during temperature change, and frankly, disk drives have to account for a wide range of it. They can, when working properly, take a lot of heat as well as freezing cold, and change between the two quite quickly. The a drawback to actual freezing is that some disc spindle motors use a tiny bit of grease on the motor bearing. Here you would encounter stiction, rather like friction, but it occurs between nonmoving surfaces that are trying to move.

CONDENSATION: Eye glasses worn in indoor air conditioning will fog instantly in the outdoor heat and humidity of Florida but never in the desert: in any situation, it's a combination of time, humidity, and difference in temperature. I can only imagine a frozen disk drive taken from the freezer into the humidity of Florida. Covering it won't help. To prevent condensation, you'd want to put the drive in a plastic bag, but then seal the bag in an area of dry air ... like while reaching in the freezer! ... otherwise you're only sealing in its humidity.

Cold cocktail glasses don't sweat in the desert, so in a very dry climate you would be okay. But in any case, I cannot think of any good that freezing will do. I wonder if these people who report freezing worked also had some other systemic change that would have caused the drive to start working anyway; for example, as a quick twist of the wrist, rotating around the axis of the spindle, will break free stuck motor shafts.


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ahmadwadan.com  Identity Verified
Kuwait
Local time: 21:19
English to Arabic
+ ...
So funny Sep 30, 2007

tlmurray wrote:

Further to what GiuseppeC59 said about freezing...

The thread pointed to earlier about freezing was sadly populated by a number of people who were asleep during junior high school physics.



So funny tlmurray
Actually, situation deserved such sense of humor especially some believed that freezing could be a solution under the effect of printed/published word on web contaminated with fallacies.

Kind regards


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