external hard drive not recognized

February 23, 2009 at 05:35:14
Specs: Windows XP, 900MHz/512MB
A friend gave me an external hard drive for my notebook. It seemed to work fine, until a day ago when I plugged it into my USB and it gave me a message saying that windows couldn't recognize the device. Also saying that it could have malfunctioned or that I needed to unplug and plug in again. I've gone through all the troubleshooting steps but still nothing. I gave it back to my friend to see if I still works on his computer and it didn't, it gave him the same message as me. So, i'm guessing i've installed some bad software on it. How can I fix this? Should I reformat? If so how do I do that? MS-DOS?

PS obviously i'm a noob at this

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February 23, 2009 at 05:59:22
You may have corrupted the drive by disconnecting it improperly. Try going to Disk Management and see if the drive shows there. If so, format it while in Disk Management. If Disk Management doesn't automatically assign a drive letter to the drive you will need to do that too. Also done in Disk Management. You may want to use a letter at the end of the alphabet to avoid future problems with conflict.

When an external drive is connected you should see a safely remove icon in the tray by the clock. You should always use that icon to disconnect the drive before unplugging to avoid future corruption.

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February 23, 2009 at 06:22:12
Yes, I reckon thats the problem. You unplugged it while there was some "dirty data" waiting to be written and it never got wrote, consequently the file system got corrupted. More likely if it is FAT32. NTFS is more resilient to such abuse but FAT32 cant stand it.


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February 23, 2009 at 08:01:18
Thanks for the reply,

So, i'm in disk manager and the drive is still not there, i see my C drive but i can't do anything with my external device. It let me change the letter of the drive but it wasn't in the details window, so i wasn't able to work with it (no format option). Any other ideas?

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February 23, 2009 at 08:32:54
Go to Device Manager and see if the Enclosure is showing there. The enclosure must be identified in order for the drive to show.

If the enclosure isn't showing in Device Manager then you other option is to remove the drive from the enclosure and connect internally. This, of course, is only possible with an desktop computer that can handle the type and size hard drive you have.

In your case you may want to temporarily try the drive internally on a friends computer. The parameters that I mentioned above still apply.

If the Enclosure doesn't show on multiple computers that would be an indication it is defective.

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