Maxtor external hard-drive doesn't work.

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wgreene

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I have a 250G Maxtor external hard-drive which I took from the shelf and plugged in last night for the first time in several months. At first I noticed the light blinking erratically and also heard a constant clicking sound, the same sound over and over. I disconnected and then reconnected it, and this time the unit worked okay. I was able to access the contents. Later I disconnected and reconnected it several more times, only to find that it no longer works. All I get now is the unending clicking sound.

As far as I know it has been setting on my shelf for three months or so. To my knowledge it hasn't been moved, much less dropped. Assuming that it is irretrievably broken, are all external hard-drives this fragile? I thought I had been storing my stuff relatively safely -- as long as I didn't drop the unit. Maybe I was wrong. I would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who might be able to help.
 

wgreene

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Do I have to be very careful about how and when I disconnect and reconnect the hard drive? Is it important to follow a certain sequence? I believe I've read that it's not supposed to be disconnected during the file transfer process. To my knowledge I've been very careful at all times when handling the unit.

Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.
 
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If you disconnect it while a transfer is going on, or without using Safely Remove when the cache is turned on in Device manager, you will lose the data being transferred and possibly damage the file system. But that won't hurt the drive. A chkdsk /f afterward will repair any minor file system damage.

Dropping is the thing that kills most externals. They are internal drives in a case and very delicate. It doesn't take too much of a blow, but they are bone China, either.

I've noticed that drives, even more than other electronics, hate moisture. Even storing them in a dry cellar has caused some of mine to have bad clusters after a few years.
 

wgreene

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Thank you, Hughv, for that very interesting video. I must admit that it was as enlightening as it was frightening. However, based on the behavior of my hard drive tonight, I am now more confused than ever.

As I stated last night just before going to bed, my HD appeared to have stopped working completely. I had convinced myself that the ceaseless clicking sound was an indication that, indeed, the drive was dead. Then tonight, very much to my surprise, the drive was recognized immediately the first and only time I plugged it in. There was no clicking sound, and I was able to access its contents. Just to be safe, I ran the full chkdsk/f (mentioned by Elvandil). It took approximately two hours to complete. No problems were found.

Now I'm totally mystified. Why did I have that ominous clicking sound last night but not tonight? In fact, last night I disconnected and reconnected several times in a row, and each time I got the constant clicking sound. Tonight I connected it only the one time, ran the chkdsk/f, and now there appears to be no problem at all.
 
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chkdsk /f won't tell you about any hard drive problems. It is solely for checking the file system. The hard drive can be seconds from death and still have a valid file system. The alternative chkdsk /r does check the surface of the drive, but again, it does not check for any other mechanical problems. That is not the purpose of chkdsk. Since chkdsk /f does not take 2 hours, even on huge drives, I think it's safe to say that it was having a hard time reading the drive, probably due to mechanical faults. Cooling and freezing have been known to allow access to drives for short periods for file recovery.
 
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That's exactly the behavior described in the video.
It would be prudent to remove any important files from this drive and replace it.
 

wgreene

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989
Well, that's not what I was wanting to hear, but I'll certainly follow your advice and replace it. Now I'm afraid to ever purchase another external hard drive.

I do have another external HD, a much larger Maxtor OneTouch 4 (750GB). It's a stand-up model. I've used it several times and so far it's been trouble-free. The problem drive I've described is much smaller, approximately 3" x 6". Generally speaking, are larger external drives more sturdily-built and less fragile than the ultra-portable ones?
 
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Elvandil knows more about this than I do, but mt experience suggests that Metal Cases with fans reduce heat and make for longer service.
The small ones (2.5") should be just as good, but I suspect they're subjected to more abuse.
See the reviews and ratings here:
http://www.cnet.com/1770-5_1-0.html?query=portable+hard+drive&tag=srch
Not sure I really know more, but I definitely agree about the metal cases. That was the very first thought I had when I bought a MyBook. Plastic is a great insulator and I have always had better luck with the metal. The drives seem to last forever, if you don't drop them.:D
 
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