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External drive suddenly not appearing

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Elviza, Jan 25, 2011.

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  1. Elviza

    Elviza Thread Starter

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    My very good friend and avid photographer came over tonight to let me transfer a huge folder of photos she has of me and my family that she spent the last three days putting together on a new Western Digital hard drive. The drive would not appear on my computer so we tried back on her laptop where it had successfully appeared before and no luck. We tried two different USB cords and power cords, and went back and forth between the computers. We called WD and could not find it in any of the places he mentioned. The one area where it said 'Disk drives' did show a WD listing but it was the only thing listed and since I wasn't positive the brand of my own internal drive I didn't want to take the chance of uninstalling as he started to recommend (btw- on her laptop the WD listing did not show up in the same place). We are freaking out because not only my photos are on there but her own years of pictures. Unfortunately, she had moved everything from PC to this drive this past week and had not yet backed it up onto a second drive. :(

    Just for background, the drive was working on her laptop for the past few days. She states that at one point it "disappeared" while she had been working on it, and she unplugged it and let it cool down (it felt hot) and when she plugged it back in it worked. After that she used it another day or two and all was well as of last night when she last used it. It had not been plugged in all day till we tried it tonight. Does anyone have any ideas as to anything else we can do to try and force it to reappear, or at least be able to assure us that all the data is not lost? The drive does turn on and you feel it spinning or starting up when it gets plugged in, light blinks- just won't show up anywhere. Thanks in advance for any assistance!
     
  2. Hughv

    Hughv

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    It's possible the case electronics have failed.
    Remove the drive from the case and attach it via USB or internally. You could also try another case.
    Many people have learned the hard way that this happens all too frequently and a single copy of your important files isn't sufficient.
     
  3. Elviza

    Elviza Thread Starter

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    Yes, she should have known as she had a computer crash before but was fortunate that "most" of her pics were supposedly saved that time. I don't know what she was thinking deleting them from the computer before making a second back-up- I mean I have days where I fail to make a second back-up of stuff I just loaded but I try to be pretty diligent about not letting that happen, and I am always warning other people, too!! So, if I open up the case the drive itself will still attach by USB? Or do I need some sort of reader? I'm not a tech expert but I have opened up my computer to add RAM and DVD players so I'm willing to try if my friend is comfortable with that. She has a guy she was trying to get a hold of to help but if it's a fairly simple process I'd like to do it myself and ensure we get our stuff since we are the ones who care about making sure it doesn't get lost. Thank you so much for the quick answer!
     
  4. Hughv

    Hughv

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    If these pics were on her laptop, she may be able to use file recovery software to retrieve some of them.
    http://www.piriform.com/recuva
    Some external drives are easy to remove and attach to another machine. You can just attach it internally to an existing port or get an adapter.
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3276554&sku=ULT40112
    Some are damn difficult to impossible to remove and attach, so open the case and see what's up.
    For the future, many pole around here recommend buying the case and drive separately to avoid this kind of problem.
     
  5. Elviza

    Elviza Thread Starter

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    Thank you- I once used the Recuva software- no luck for me but I know it has been successful for others (Windows deleted some pix from my camera without my wanting it to- never got 'em back, tried several programs) but I will ask her. She may have had some on her laptop and some on her computer at work so it would certainly be worth trying Recuva if we can't get the drive working. She did buy two identical externals so maybe I can swap the drives between cases? As for the recommendation of buying separately- why would that be better, is it just because you can buy a better-quality hard drive that way instead of getting the 'pre-made' external?
     
  6. Hughv

    Hughv

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    You may be able to swap drives, but some cases are difficult to remove without at least some minor blemishes occurring. Other drives use proprietary interfaces and cannot be attached to a standard SATA/PATA cable.
    Those are the reasons for buying the drive and case separately, as well as the quality issue you mentioned.
    The issue of external drive failure some up often enough that learning how to assemble these components (4-6 screws and a cable) is a very worthwhile. exercise.
    Let me add that my Dlink NAS drive required no tools at all. The assembly and installation of two drives took about a minute.
     
  7. Elviza

    Elviza Thread Starter

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    It seems these WD's have a lot of cases of this issue occurring. Maybe because that is the brand I'm looking up right now, but I see numerous instances of it. I had it happen once with an old drive, but it turned out it was the power cord had gone bad- the light on the drive still lit up, just didn't get enough power to operate.Aside from that all has been well unless my whole computer went down. Anyway, thanks for the advice- I have left her a message to bring the two externals (they are identical) by and see if we can do the switcheroo, otherwise we'll try something else. I'll let you know how it goes!
     
  8. Soundy

    Soundy

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    Question: is your computer Windows 7? Is your friend's?

    I've noticed an oddity with my Win7 desktop, in that external drives don't seem to get drive letters assigned when I plug them in - I consistently have to go into the Disk Management and assign them a letter. They work fine when plugged into any number of WinXP machines.
     
  9. Elviza

    Elviza Thread Starter

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    Yes, we both have Win7. Hmmm, that is interesting. I have two externals of my own, and they both have a drive letter (E & G), without my having done anything to make that happen. But, obviously, her's didn't show up at all today. Previously when she plugged it in it did show up, but she said it was under the 'Devices with removable storage' section rather than the drives area like where mine show up. I know with my Canon video camera, depending on the setting I have it on when I connect it to the computer, it comes up as either a drive (I think F), under drives, or as 'Canon' under other devices.
     
  10. Hughv

    Hughv

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    Win7 has a default setting to not show empty drives. A faulty drive may be regarded as an empty drive.
     
  11. Soundy

    Soundy

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    Try going into the Disk Management when the drive is plugged in - right click Computer and go to Manage - and see if the disk shows there without a drive letter. If so, right-click it and select "Add or change a drive letter".
     
  12. Elviza

    Elviza Thread Starter

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    I think we did that and did not see it- at least it wasn't under disk drives as only one was listed which I assume was my internal. But I have not had the opportunity to check it out since posting here as my friend hasn't been able to bring the drive back over. So hopefully this weekend I can try to work with it and see if I can get access to the data somehow. I will post as soon as I have an update. Thanks again, everyone.
     
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