Is my external hard drive dying? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 2014-05-11, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Is my external hard drive dying?

I have a WD 320gb external hd. It's about three years old.

Recently I was trying to back up some files to the drive which took so long that I never got to finish it as I was getting error messages saying it couldn't save or copy to my external drive.

Next time I tried to access the external drive, the computer would not recognize it (it was humming and the light on but not blinking at this point). To make a long story short, it was eventually recognized by the computer after more than half an hour or so while I was doing something else on the computer. But when I clicked on the drive letter in explorer, it was empty - no folders, no files. When I checked properties of the drive, it indicated raw drive with 0 bytes capacity and 0 bytes used. All this time the drive was still humming and light blinking.

Several hours later, I tried again and this time it took over an hour for the external drive to be recognized. However, this time all folders and files appeared to be in tact. So I'm currently in the process of copying the files over to another external drive as well as the internal drive before I lose them again.

My questions are:

1. Is this a sign that it is about to die on me completely?
2. Would reformatting the drive (after the copy over is completed of course) correct the problem (of slow or non recognition and slow access)?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 2014-05-11, 06:39 PM
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1. Probably.
2. Impossible to tell.

Once you've backed it up, run this diagnostic software from WD on the drive.

Let us know what you find out.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 2014-05-19, 06:16 PM
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 2014-05-20, 12:28 PM
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It could be the power brick or the case. It could also be a loose or bad cable. Another possibility is a bad USB port or corrupted driver. External drives can often be flaky without anything being wrong with the bare drive. Reseating or replacing the cable and trying another USB port are the first steps.

Another possibility is channel saturation. High data rates can preclude other access to the drive. That should clear up when the file copy or whatever is causing the issue stops. If it doesn't, it indicates that an error occurred. In my experience, it's often the cable or case rather than the drive. The most common drive error is a bad sector. The drive should correct that but it may take a full SMART scan or other measures to fix it. To diagnose the bare drive, it is best to take it out of the case and temporarily install it in a PC.
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