External hard drives that unmount themselves

I just bought another external hard drive to use as a backup. This one had the same problem that a lot of them have had and I don’t know what causes it or why this fixes it.

I have a lot of video files and other data to back up and I prefer doing a simple file copy so that I know the data is completely readable no matter what kind of computer I plug it into in the future without having to use some kind of backup software. The copy is just being done by drag and drop through Windows Explorer so I can make sure I get what I want.

Usually what will happen is that the file copy will abort after about 20 or 30 minutes because the drive suddenly disappears. Sometimes it will show back up after a minute, but occasionally the volume name will be something like “Local drive” instead of what I named it.

However, if I delete the partition that was put on the factory, create a new one and let it do a full format, the drive stays active after that. That tells me the hardware interface in the drive and the USB port on my computer are good. In each of the cases where these drives have disappeared while in use, this always fixes it. The OS is Win 7 Pro 64 bit right now, but I think I remember this happening on drives plugged into the older Win XP 32bit with SP3.

Any idea why a factory-created NTFS partition would behave like this and why deleting it/creating it/formatting it would make enough of a different to fix it?

Poor programming.

Check your power settings. Make sure the USB port is not going to sleep because it’s on battery or just idle. I’ve seen ports shut down because of no data coming through. YMMV.

Oh and also Teracopy is your friend.

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This is the desktop computer that pretty much stays on all the time. There should be data going through that port constantly during the file copy. The USB drive has been connected now for over 48 hours and has not disappeared since, even when it’s sitting idle. I know because I have a second Windows Explorer window open looking at one of the folders. If that drive unmounted itself, that window would close because Microsoft changed it so that if something’s not available any more, it doesn’t jump up to the next-available folder like it did in XP and instead closes the window.

I’ll take a look at Teracopy.

What version of Windows are you using? That is not the way mine works, and I have 8.1.

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. For example, if I have Windows Explorer set to view the contents of a USB thumb drive and pull the thumb drive out of the port, Windows Explorer closes. Under Windows XP, if that drive was set for F:, Windows would then jump up to E, D or C, whichever one was first available.

I know that if I unplug an external device, it either goes up (such as to “This PC”) or to whatever folder or drive was before it on the list.

Of course, I have both Clover and Classic Shell running here, so that may be why I experience it differently.

This one does, and running 8.1, too. Browse to a flash drive (viewing contents in right pane), pull the drive, WinExplorer window disappears.

Actually, I just discovered that I don’t have a functioning PNY Turbo 128 GB USB 3.0 flash drive. :rage:

I tried it with a SD card, and it didn’t do what you describe. Once again, I think that is because I have Clover. Having multiple tabs open probably changes the behavior. For example, if I navigate to the Control panel using the start menu, it opens into a new tab in Clover.

Doh! That’s not a cheap piece of gear. I feel your pain. I don’t trust PNY anymore. I had a nice 32GB USB drive die on me a year or two back, too. Pissed me off to no end.

Yeah, and I can’t get it replaced, because I can’t find the piece of cardboard it was attached to.

You shouldn’t need anything but the receipt. I believe warranty info is on their website.

Came across this same problem with a couple of portable drives I bought recently. The answer seems to be the same as last time: do a complete format of the hard drive to wipe out any of the factory formatting and the drive suddenly becomes stable. I’m doing a test with about 1TB worth of data to see if it will complete the file copy.

I really need to stick with my “new drive stress test”, which is one or two full formats, proper disconnection/reconnection a few times, then copy enough onto it that I can make another copy to a different spot on the same drive to give the read/write heads a good workout.

One new factor in this is that I’ve got the drive I’m testing right now plugged directly into the motherboard’s USB jacks instead of the ports at the front of the computer case. Maybe there’s something in the harness attached to the motherboard that’s mucking up the connection. I don’t seem to have any problems that I can remember with the motherboard jacks, even if I use a USB extension cable.

I also had it with one of my USB external drives.

Sticking it into a particular USB port will have it go up and down like a yoyo.

Sticking it into another USB port sees it remains stable.

And also it does not like certain PC’s, I have to make sure it is stable before copying data across.

The two other drives just keep on going no matter the USB port and PC make/model.

Might be a power issue. If that particular port isn’t providing at least 500mA, it can upset spinning platter portable drives.

Threaddus Resurrectus.

Yet another portable drive acting flakey out of the box. Files seemly write-protected, drive offline, needing to overwrite an existing file, etc. Different computer this time and it didn’t matter if it was plugged into the USB port on the motherboard or a powered USB hub.

After doing a full format, the drive’s happy as a clam.