Maxtor Hard Drive unrecognised in Vista

July 17, 2009 at 01:15:57
Specs: Windows Vista
I have a 320GB Maxtor basics external hard drive.
I recently got it back from a friend who told me it stopped registering on his computer, and didn't think anything of it because his computer it quite old. However when I plugged it into my (new) laptop it didn't show up in My Computer or in the Device Manager.

I have reconnected it to different ports, checked the lights are on (which they are, and the hard drive is vibrating so I know it's doing something), checked all cords are plugged in properly at both ends, tried various ways of accessing the drive through different programs, run scans for extra hardware devices and ensured all drivers are completely up to date. I also plugged it into the desktop computer but it won't register there either.

The hard drive has gone dodgy before, but that was a USB Port fault and caused the hard drive to randomly corrupt files. It was relatively easy to scan the device and repair the bad sectors, but this time I can't access the device at all. It basically doesn't exist.

I read that I could do something like reset the computer back to before the problem started, but I don't know how to do this or what it will do to my computer. I would reformat the drive if I could access it, because I have backups of almost everything and what I didn't back up I can get again from the friends who gave them to me. It's not the data that's the issue, it's the fact that I no longer have a working HD and no money to buy a new one any time soon.

Is there anything I can do to access the drive that I haven't done already? I'm not fantastic with computers, but I can muddle my way through if instructions are clear enough.

Any help would be extremely appreciated!!
Thank you!

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July 17, 2009 at 02:36:46
Are you sure that you have installed it properly?

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July 17, 2009 at 03:19:56
"It was relatively easy to scan the device and repair the bad sectors".

That was your key to stop using that drive.

Is there any data on the drive that you would like to recover?

Does the drive appear in either My computer, Disk Management, or Device Manager?

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July 17, 2009 at 05:46:47
There is data that I would like back out of convenience, but I have another HD I use as a backup (500GB Seagate desktop) and the few things I haven't backed up I canget again.

The HD doesn't show up anywhere on my computer even though the lights are all on on the deivce. It's not in My Computer or the Device Manager, but I haven't checked Disk Management because honestly I don't know what it is. If you tell me how to get there to check it I will, but so far whenever i plug in the device its like it's not there at all.

I've definitely installed it because I've been using it on my laptop since I got it about 3 months ago without a problem, so its not an installation issue.

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July 17, 2009 at 08:34:20
Right click on My Computer and choose Manage> Storage> Disk Management.

If you don't see anything in Device Manager you may need to remove the hard drive from within the external enclosure and connect directly to an internal drive controller. The enclosure may be the defective part. If connecting directly to an internal controller doesn't allow you to at least see the hard drive itself then the circuit board on the drive may be bad.

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July 17, 2009 at 09:34:17
If Windows is detecting the circuits of the external drive's case correctly, in Device Manager - USB controllers there is an entry for a USB Mass Storage device or similar.
You get a separate similar entry there if a USB flash drive or a card reader is connected
If you have more than one entry, RIGHT click on it and select Properties - you can usually easily tell from what it says there which device it is.

"...The hard drive has gone dodgy before, but that was a USB Port fault ...."

External drives require a lot of power, and they won't work properly in all possible USB ports you can plug them into.
The USB connection of the external drive requires that the USB port you plug it into can supply 500ma, the max. USB spec.
The front USB ports in a desktop case may have inadequate wiring to them. If you have USB ports higher up on the front of the case, the wiring for them may be inadequate, or the multiple ports may be ports in a hub that connects to one USB port directly connected to the mboard - that type of hub does NOT work properly with all USB devices.
If you have the drive plugged into an external hub that is the type that has multiple ports that connect to one USB port directly connected to the mboard, the external drive and many other USB devices may not work correctly, even when the hub is a "powered" one that has an external power adapter connected to it. The same goes for USB ports on a printer, scanner, keyboard, etc. which are ports in that type of hub.
The external drive can get enough power from any USB port directly connected to the mboard on a desktop mboard, and directly connected to the mboard ports on most laptops. If you have a plate in a desktop slot space with USB ports, that will probably work with an external drive, if the wiring to the mboard header is adequate. The ports in a PCI USB controller card can all supply enough current. Some laptops can't supply 500ma from any of their directly connected USB ports - in that case you have to connect an external drive to TWO USB ports, or if the external drive is 2.5", one USB ports and have an external power adapter plugged into a jack for that on the drive.
A 3.5" external drive requires a USB port connection that can supply 500ma and that the external power adapter that came with it is plugged into the external case and is powering it.
A 2.5" external drive may require TWO USB connections, or a connection to one USB port and have an external power adapter plugged into a jack for that on the drive.
Some 2.5" external drives come with two cables to connect to two USB ports on the computer end, or a USB Y cable - a small USB connector on the case end, two regular type A connectorson the computer end, or they may have one USB cable and a jack on the case you can plug an external power adapter into, but they usually don't come with the power adapter.
An external drive may not work correctly when plugged into a port on a laptop's PCMCIA (PC Card) USB 2.0 controller card, or a port in an ExpressCard USB 2.0 controller card, even if the card has a jack for connecting an external power adapter to and you connect one.

If you're SURE the external drive is plugged into one or two USB ports it should work in according to the above info, and if the circuits of the external case show up as a Mass storage device in Device Manager, then it's likely the hard drive inside the case has failed, and if you were to remove the hard drive and connect it properly internally directly to a desktop computer and test it with the hard drive manufacturer's diagnostics, you could confirm that.

"The hard drive has gone dodgy before, but that was a USB Port fault and caused the hard drive to randomly corrupt files. It was relatively easy to scan the device and repair the bad sectors, ..."

OtheHill said

"That was your key to stop using that drive. "

I agree.

USB connection problems can cause data to become corrupted, but they can't cause the drive to develop bad sectors. All drives have a small number of bad sectors, but you don't find any bad sectors for a drive that is not failing, because the automatic hardware/logic routines of the drive swap them with spare good sectors as they are encountered or develop with time. Visible (findable) bad sectors indicates the drive is failing and all the spare good sectors have been used up.

If you use the Seagate Seatools diagnostics with the hard drive (it won't detect the drive when it's in the external case), the Maxtor drive can be repaired by Zero filling it (you will lose all the data presently on the drive) ONLY if the Long test finds only a small number of LBA errors - the Long test quits when it finds more than 99 LBA errors, because it's extremely unlikely in that case that the user can fix the problem with any software.

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