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Thread: portable hard drive won't start

  1. #1
    Not *@!%in Postman Pat! Ruggerbugger's Avatar
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    portable hard drive won't start

    I'm having a problem with my Freecom FHD2-Pro. The drive won't start when connected to any USB port. I get an audio notification of connection, and the drive lights up briefly, but I can't access the files. I could get access before I recently had to reinstall windows due to a drive failure. I have the drive working on another computer.

    Does anyone have any ideas? Can I test my USB ports somehow?


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    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    It is almost certainly ttrying to take more power than the USB port can provide - this is especially true for laptops. The USB spec is (I think) 500mA max, but it could be that the drive start up current is greater than this, so if the USB port can't satisfy that, the drive fails to operate (I get a similar problem with some drives I installed in enclosures,

    There are three solutions:

    Use an external PSU if the drive has a connector for it,

    Use special lead that has two standard USB connectors at one end, so you can plug into two ports on the computer. The second one just supplies more power for the drive.

    The third is to use a USB lead that has a PS2 keyboard connector on the end (as a pass through) so you can use the PS2 connector to supply the power to the external drive PSU socket (if it has one)

    I don't know where you can get those leads (try Scan, or a Google search), Mine came with the drive enclosures.
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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Never had a problem powering a veriety of 2.5" drives from laptops.

    Have you tries different ports? Windows often forces a re-setup of the device when you use a different USB port. Have you tried it in a different PC to make sure it isn't the drive that is at fault.

    How about looking in Computer Management in the Andministrator Tools. It's possible the drive is being recognised but not being assigned a drive letter, or it might be wanting to take an existing drive letter and getting confused (had this problem myself before)

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    Not *@!%in Postman Pat! Ruggerbugger's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Quote Originally Posted by Funkstar View Post
    Never had a problem powering a veriety of 2.5" drives from laptops.

    Have you tries different ports? Windows often forces a re-setup of the device when you use a different USB port. Have you tried it in a different PC to make sure it isn't the drive that is at fault.

    How about looking in Computer Management in the Andministrator Tools. It's possible the drive is being recognised but not being assigned a drive letter, or it might be wanting to take an existing drive letter and getting confused (had this problem myself before)
    Here's where we stand:

    The drive works on a laptop running Windows 2000.
    The drive worked on this computer prior to a replacement of a power supply a few weeks ago.
    If I plug the drive in, its connection light comes on and an entry for USB mass storage appears in device manager and the model number is recognised.


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    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Can you hear the drive rotating or the heads moving? My money is still on power issues. (Occasionally when this happens you can get a clicking noise from the drive as the heads move from the parking space, but the voltage drops so they repark - voltage rises - they move, causing voltage drop etc) It only needs to be just a fraction too low. The fact that you have replaced the main system PSU is a indicator if that is the only thing that has changed.
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  6. #6
    Not *@!%in Postman Pat! Ruggerbugger's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    that sounds logical peter. I can hear what you describe. I'm trying to find the lead that came with the drive to supply extra power, although I know from experience it shouldn't be needed. Additionally, the PSU I replaced the old one with is more powerful, and should supply enough juice on the relevant rails. Funnily enough my iPod is also having problems in disk mode, so I suspect it's a USB 2.0 issue.

    I have a couple more things to try today, we'll just have to wait and see.
    Last edited by Ruggerbugger; 09-09-2007 at 10:20 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo
    my a55 shoots great video in 1080i

  7. #7
    Not *@!%in Postman Pat! Ruggerbugger's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Tried updating to latest nVidia nForce2 drivers to no effect, removing and reinstalling USB root hubs didn't help either. I've ordered a 5 port expansion card from Scan. Only £12 even if it doesn't help.

    Update:

    I plugged in the power connector from my Logitech radio mouse and the drive is working! Clearly there wasn't enough power coming through the usb port, but why should this be? I'm using an Antec Truepower 430 with an Asus A7N8X-E motherboard, does anyone know if there are supplemetary connectors etc I can use with these two components, or am I stuck with the rather Heath Robinson setup I'm using now?
    Last edited by Ruggerbugger; 10-09-2007 at 05:38 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Although the power output of the PSU may be higher, the actual 5V output might be slightly low. The spec for the 5V rail is (IIRC) +/- 5% so it can 4.75 to 5.25 volts. If you have a voltmeter, you could try measuring it under load. It sounds as if the output is just that bit too low for the drive.

    You might be OK using one of the power cables I mentioned earlier, but if not, I suspect that using an external psu might be the only solution.
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Or get yourself a powered usb hub and plug the hard drive into that.
    If you can't keep up, stick with reality...

  10. #10
    Not *@!%in Postman Pat! Ruggerbugger's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    According to Asus Probe my 5v rail is running at about 4.73. To be honest I thought this was a bit low when I installed the PSU. I ordered a PCI USB 2 card on Sunday night from Scan, which arrived yesterday at 7:45am (good going guys ). So I'm going to install that at the weekend and see if it helps. I'm just happy to have got the drive going in the end.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggerbugger View Post
    According to Asus Probe my 5v rail is running at about 4.73. To be honest I thought this was a bit low when I installed the PSU. I ordered a PCI USB 2 card on Sunday night from Scan, which arrived yesterday at 7:45am (good going guys ). So I'm going to install that at the weekend and see if it helps. I'm just happy to have got the drive going in the end.
    4.73 is low (although the software voltage monitors may not be accurate - can't beat a test with a good multimeter) and that is almost certainly the problem. The new card may solve it if it generates the 5v rail internally (from the 12V supply) but if it doesn't it won't. Only trying it will tell. The powered up solution would work, as you introducing an extra external psu, but otherwise offers no real advantage (and all the inconveniences) of an external drive PSU.

    If you can measure the PSU output with a voltmeter and iot is still low (under 4.75 volts) you might want to consider RMA ing it. What make is it?

    Good luck.
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb View Post
    Can you hear the drive rotating or the heads moving? My money is still on power issues. (Occasionally when this happens you can get a clicking noise from the drive as the heads move from the parking space, but the voltage drops so they repark - voltage rises - they move, causing voltage drop etc) It only needs to be just a fraction too low. The fact that you have replaced the main system PSU is a indicator if that is the only thing that has changed.
    This is EXACTLY whats happening with my 2 year old Freecom Classic HD (80gb 7200rpm). All was fine up until a few days ago when I came to switch my PC back on after switching it off over night (as i always do). Anyway the PC hung after the Windows XP startup screen. Screen just went blank and nothing happened so I had to switch off at the back. On re-powering up i was greeted with the "Windows did not start properly" screen with the 4 options of starting in safe mode, safe mode with networking etc or to start windows normally, which i did. Again it hung but this time i notided my external HD wasnt making the noise it used to, which was a click then a whirring sound followed by a further click then another whirring sound then the HD activity light would flash and windows would get to the logging in screen.

    So I disconnected my drive from the usb socket after shutting down at back again. Chose to start windows normally and it booted to Windows, no problem.

    Tried unplugging my external HD from mains socket for a minute or two as I had read that this could help. It didn't and when I plugged my HD back into the USB slot it started clicking and the HD activity light flashed every few seconds or so but it still did not start at all.

    The socket i was using is one of four on an NEC PCI usb 2.0 card I have installed. I have other peripherals plugged into this an they work fine. Ive tried unplugging these and just using the HD on its own but still no luck. Also tried using the USB 1.1 sockets on the front of my PC but that just generates the message "Device can perform faster if plugged into USB 2.0 port. Unplug device from current port etc etc", and the drive does exactly as it does when plugged into one of the 2.0 ports.

    I have uninstalled all usb controllers/ports etc, rebooted,windows re detected them (as i thought they may be enumerated incorrectly) but still no luck.

    The HD has its own power supply connected (it came supplied with the drive). Its output is 12v/2.0A.

    Im all out of ideas. Is the drive dead/dying or is there something im missing here? Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

    EDIT
    I left my HD plugged into the USB port for a while after numerous disconnects and after about 5 mins its started makin a feint intermittent bussing noise like it was tryin to start up. I left it on and after 20-25 mins i herd the click-shirr-click and voila, up popped the windows asking me what i wanted to do with the files on the device (play them, take no action etc) and I could access the HD. Im gonnago transfer most of the important stuff over to my other HD and burn the images/vids i wanna keep to DVD because I think the HD is on the way out.
    Last edited by MikkDC; 22-09-2007 at 01:07 AM.

  13. #13
    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: portable hard drive won't start

    I think the drive may be on its way out (mechanical failure). After copying all you data off it you may be able to use a SMART monitoring tool to investigate what is going on (depends on the make of drive) - otherwise just bin it.
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