Solved Is my external disk dead?


Fortitude

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I have a 2 TB Western Digital disk connected to my laptop via a USB hub. There are three other disks connected on the same hub. The disk in question has stopped working. In fact when I connect it I see a message that the device has been loaded (I use Zentimo), but the disk is not visible in Windows Explorer (or Directory Opus). When I disconnect it there is a message that the device has been unloaded. I also hear the usual Windows sound notifications.

I connected the disk to the laptop on a USB converter device that I have and also on another hub, but again it doesn't appear in Windows Explorer.

Could it have quietly died? Hard Disk Sentinel which I have continuously running has not given me any warning about a problem with this disk.

EDIT to add that Hard Disk Sentinel lists the disk, but with no drive letter. I even did a quick scan with Hard Disk Sentinel and it ran fine.
EDIT to say that the disk is shown in Disk Management as Unallocated. It doesn't have a drive letter.
 
Windows Build/Version
Windows 11 Build 22000.556
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Bree

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Hard Disk Sentinel lists the disk, but with no drive letter.
Open Disk Management. That should also show the disk with no drive letter. Right-click on the disk's partition and you will be able to assign it a drive letter, then it will be able to appear in file explorer.
 

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ish4d0w

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How about connecting the drive directly to your computer, without any external hubs? Hard drives have a relatively high power requirement compared to what external hubs can provide, unless they have auxilary power.

Be very careful on what you do next. You can try adding a partition letter, but if the region is "unallocated" then your partition table, or the partition itself is damaged. If you wish to tinker with it, and you don't mind losing your data (by the drive fully breaking down), you can try Recuva (free) to recover data from it, in its current state. So do not create a new partition, donát assign a letter, don't do anything, just point recuva to the drive, enable deep scan and give it a day to finish. Oh and set a target where to restore the data to, this MUST BE another drive, never the same drive as you would then risk overwriting the rescueable data. I think at this state you have a good shot a recoverying the data with Recuva, or at least some of it.

If your data is absolutely critical, then you should look for a professional drive disaster recovery company who will do this in clean labs and special equipment for $$$$, but they will get your data back, no matter what. If you desire this then do not do anything with the drive as home, as the damage could get worse.

Oh and don't trust Hard Disk Sentinel. That is just based on SMART readings and field tests. It is a nice toy but not something you can rely with your life on. In fact, hard drives are not that reliable to begin with. They do not always give a sign that they are going to fail. Good luck.
 

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Berton

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Just a note, I've had External USB drives fail but it was because of the interface in the cases holding the drive, the drives themselves have proven to still be useful either as a replacement in a desktop or in a drive dock. Because the drives could be used on PC, Linux or Mac machines the interface interpreted the data and most times the data couldn't be retrieved.
 

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Fortitude

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The drive is the one where I keep my media files and I use it every day. However, I make backups almost continuously. Therefore I don't mind losing the data that is actually on the drive as I have more than one backup for it. The problem is that lately I did find on three or four times that the drive had been disconnected from the laptop and I had to press the power button to reconnect it.

I'm guessing that it could be a problem with the external case, because all the other drives that share the same USB hub work with no problem.

In this instance I created a partition, made a quick format and I restored the data from a backup.

I'm going to live in uncertainty, waiting for the next drive fault. :unsure:
 

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ish4d0w

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Not all drive have the exact same power requirements, and it is a really fine line between minimal required power for the drive, and the maximum amount of power that the hub can provide.
 

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clam1952

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General rule of thumb I use is 2.5" externals will run quite happily from a USB port, as long as you are not running multiple unpowered drives and extras from USB, 3.5" external drives really need a power source or a powered hub.
Failures in my experience are invariably the USB to SATA circuitry in the enclosure, often just a dry solder joint which is fixable or a knackered socket from frequent plugging and unplugging, drives invariably work if put in a PC or new enclosure, avoid cheap enclosures!
 

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Berton

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@clam1952 is correct about need of more power for the 3.5" drives when used in a case, has to be self-powered to provide both 5V and 12V. The pocketable drives or cases for 2.5" drives need only 5V but some older ones need a Y-cable for 2 USB ports to provide more current/amperage, newer ones seem to be 1000ma/1A or less. One leg of the Y-cable is for power and data and the other leg is for additional power.
 

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Fortitude

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My USB hub and all four external disks attached to it are individually powered. Based on your comments is it possible that there isn't enough power for them?
 

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Berton

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My USB hub and all four external disks attached to it are individually powered. Based on your comments is it possible that there isn't enough power for them?
Based on that I'd say they have enough power to run and usually with only 5 power units plugged into a power bar/surge protector there shouldn't be an issue.
 

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    256GB SSD NVMe
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Winuser

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My USB hub and all four external disks attached to it are individually powered. Based on your comments is it possible that there isn't enough power for them?
I doubt that it is a power adapter problem. If you have another WD drive, you could try the power adapter from that to do a test.
 

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