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Solved: New External Hard Drives Bad - Common?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by jecal22, Mar 30, 2010.

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  1. jecal22

    jecal22 Thread Starter

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    Lately, I have had a lot of customers bring in brand new, in-the-box, external hard drives for me to transfer data to from their old broken down PCs or whatever the case may be. I have had quite a few come back very shortly thereafter with either failing or dead hard drives. These have ranged from LaCie brands to Western Digital MyBooks and Passports as well as Seagate FreeAgents and others.

    I understand the different reasons for the hard drive itself going bad, but not after only a few hours of use. This seems to be much more frequent in the new external drives versus new internal hard drives. Is there known to be flaws in the boards within these external enclosures?

    Any new input would be great. Thanks very much.
     
  2. saikee

    saikee

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    Did you feed enough power to run the external drive? Do you know how much current it consumes?
     
  3. jecal22

    jecal22 Thread Starter

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    I'm talking about packaged external hard drives with manufactured provided power supplies. When customers bring them in, I do the data transfers with no problem. And then, for example, a lady came in the other day with a fairly new 2.5" external drive. When plugged in with the proper cables, nothing happened. I opened it up and removed the drive. When directly connected to my machine, it spun up but would not show any indication of reading. I had another lady over Christmas who I transferred all of her data to a new external Western Digital My Book drive or whatever they call the larger drives. I used the provided cables for doing the data transfer initially. A few weeks later she came in with all of the equipment and said that she was having trouble getting it to read. When I powered the drive on, nothing happened. I opened the enclosure and tried the drive directly to my machine and it was dead.

    Those are the best two examples I've had lately. My question is, is there anything known to be bad about external enclosures that would wear down a hard drive quicker than internal use?
     
  4. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    There's a greater amount of heat in these enclosures and heat isn't a good thing for a drive. Some people also tend to leave then running all the time which increase wear. There's also the big one of not taking care of it, a lot of people hit and bump the drives while they are being used or handle them roughly while not in use. Also you have all the extra electronics in the enclosure that can cause failures.
     
  5. jecal22

    jecal22 Thread Starter

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    Thanks Triple6, that's about what I've come up with. In all honesty, I can't tell you what the customer's do with them after they take them home, and I don't think they all take care of them as well as they should. So that is probably most of it. I forgot to mention that I have had issues with numerous drives myself. My Seagate FreeAgent has been great. It is about 3 years old and it still works. For a while, I thought I was having problems, but Seatools still says it is good. But I did have a 2.5" enclosure that I put a hard drive in (can't remember what drive it was but Seagate or WD) and I also had a 3.5" Nexus enclosure that I paid a little extra for than the basic model. I had both of these at different times, but both of them seemed to have board issues shortly after beginning to use them. Fortunately neither one fried my drives, but goes to say the extra electronics are just one more thing to cause issues and go bad.

    I guess this post is more for informational purposes than it is for support, but I appreciate the ideas so far!

    Any one else have similar problems or other ideas?

    Thanks!
     
  6. Hughv

    Hughv

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    I've seen a lot of these also, but there's no common factor I can see.
    In most cases it's the enclosure that's died, and I tend to believe it's a heat problem from a poorly designed case. The more expensive metal cases with fans seem to last longer, but that's just anecdotal.
     
  7. saikee

    saikee

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    Never had a new drive that doesn't work no matter where I put it, internally or externally, using a USB, Firewire, eSata or Sata connection. I also have never come across a defective external hard disk enclosure among my IDE, eSata, Firewire and Sata disks. The last one is actually connected by a Sata cable between an external harddisk with a normal Sata port on a mobo.

    AFAIK nearly all 2.5" external drives sold with USB connection do not have a power supply in the package and many 2.5" hard disks consume more than 0.5A current, which is the limit of a USB port, and can only run properly with a twin head USB cable.

    Also an external hard disk should be tested with a second opinion via a different operating system, like first with a MS system and then verified with a Linux. It is my experience if a disk works with one operating system it will always work with another system.

    Although never tried it myself I suppose it is possible to damage a new hard disk by starving it with with an inadequate power supply which may work intermittently. This could be common among the 2.5" disks. I based on my experience of owning 51 No. of 3.5" disk and 14 No. of 2.5" disk (including one SSD). WIth the normal hard disk docking station one can run any hard disk, either 3.5" or 2.5", as an internal or internal device.
     
  8. jecal22

    jecal22 Thread Starter

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    Thanks for pointing that out. I did discover this myself when plugging in a customers hard drive using a regular mini USB cable and it just made some clicking noises like it was trying to power on. I had previously noticed some 2.5" hard drives came with the twin USB cables so I tried that and it worked fine. Since then I've always made sure to use a twin USB cable to ensure that proper power is given. I didn't think to mention that previously, could be some useful information for someone. Thanks saikee.
     
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