Portable hard drive resets during operations

Seagate Expansion portable external 500g...
May 29, 2011 at 17:50:26
Specs: Windows XP, 1.6 ghz / 712 mb
My portable hard drive has been showing signs of defunct and now it is almost always resetting operations, be it reading or writing large amounts of data or just browsing through the folders, sometimes even at the beginning of the operations. I felt the device and it does not seem to be heating (it's rather slim so I presume the shell would heat up). What happens during the "reset" is that whatever operation is going on is interrupted as whatever resource/file was used cannot be found anymore. The drive is gets unmounted and a notification pop up says Windows could not complete the delayed write on H:\$mft Then from 1 to 10 seconds later the drive is mounted again and I have to start the operation over to make sure the data I was getting didn't come out corrupted.

The natural reaction would be to replace the hard drive but until I can do so I still need to sort out and recover my data. I can still do it but it slows me down a lot and it makes the process very irritating. Is there anyway this can be fixed?

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May 29, 2011 at 19:35:46
If this is a USB powered external drive are you using TWO USB cables?

The other type of external would use an AC power adapter and ONE USB cable.

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May 30, 2011 at 08:41:52
No offense but I think you're referring to somewhat outdated technology. The only connector on my external hard drive is a female USB Mini-b so it can only connect with a single cable.

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May 30, 2011 at 09:14:18
That is NOT outdated technology. The USB port has problems supplying enough current to run the drive. That would explain your issue of dropping out.

USB powered external drives are not the best solution. When searching for a current example I found references to "cables", which indicate more than one and also did find a 2.5" USB portable drive that comes with a small AC adapter.

Western Digital offers their popular Elements units with an optional USB cable. Link below and an excerpt from their site.


USB powered - These drives require no power adapter; they are powered directly through the USB cable. (An optional cable is available for the few computers that limit power from the USB port.)

Does your drive have any unused ports that could be used for an additional USB cable or an external power source? What is the full model of your external?

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May 30, 2011 at 10:54:50
My external drive model:

Seagate Expansion 500gb portable hard drive

A retailer page with pictures:
The two holes in the back are not ports, just cavities for cording.

It is simply a small energy-efficient model. I've had it work properly on USB 1.1 before.

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May 30, 2011 at 11:56:44
USB controllers can only supply a finite amount of power. If something else on that controller is using some of the power there many not be sufficient left to turn the external. USB controllers serve at least two USB ports. If you have an internal card reader that controller is serving the reader plus two USB ports.

Additionally, drives can wear, which can require slightly more power to rotate.

In the end that type of external is not the best choice. It is designed strictly for its portability. If you are using an external in a fixed location I recommend you get an AC powered unit with a fan built into the enclosure.

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June 16, 2011 at 08:55:13
Apologies for the late reply.

I have tried everything so far: Unplugging all of my USB devices, removing my USB extension card so that more power would be available to the onboard controller. Nothing made a difference. Altough I have a 500V 24 pin power supply, my motherboard only takes 20 pins so I suppose that chops off some of the power? The disk seems to be making noise when it spins, so I presume it got a bit used up and needs more power to spin for minutes on. It seemed to work okay and only rarely shut down with the computers at my college, which are more powerful. However at home, even though it worked perfectly in the first 6-8 months of usage, it didn't seem to work properly anymore whatever I did.

So in the end I removed the casing to see if something had gotten stuck in the mechanisms, or if there was a part I could oil. What I found inside the two first levels of casing was actually a simple laptop hard disk with a built in SATA interface, and plugged in the SATA connectors was a USB mini-b-to-SATA adaptor. I couldn't believe it. Cheap move, Seagate. Luckily they weren't soldered together so I just connected the disk to my onboard SATA controller and it seems to be running smoothly. So I'll back up my files and decide what to do with it later...

I'm still shocked. I know laptops hard drives take less power, but how does that ensure that they can run on any USB 2.0 controller? I figure those Expansion drives are just refurbished overstock laptop hard drives. Well thanks for you help Othehill. You've clued me into the right direction at least. I've bought a solid, less convenient but AC powered hard drive to replace this one and hopefully it can last a few years.

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