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External USB Hard Disk Drives: Vista seemingly creates file system errors (missing/corrupt files)? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi!

     

    I'm using a Western Digital Elements 500 GB external USB hard disk drive and Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit.

    My Elements drive is formatted in NTFS from Windows XP Pro.

     

    Naturally, I use the drive for backup purposes, but when files start missing or become corrupt everytime data is copied to the drive most people would avoid making backups. It's like Vista doesn't understand what parts of the drive are free space and what parts ain't, wich is really frustrating, because you don't wanna lose 50-200 files everytime you add something to the drive.

     

    I had no problems installing the drive. Vista found drivers for it right away. And I have no problems with files going missing or becoming corrupt while using Windows XP.

     

    Sometimes Vista even thinks the drive is unformatted and a message concerning this pops up. But when I unplug and replug it Vista recognizes the partition again and I can access my files. I keep all my music on the drive because it's extremely convenient but very often when playing music with Windows Media Player parts of songs disappear and many songs are unable to play.

     

    This is usally resolved by unplugging and replugging the drive and restarting WMP. Voila! The songs are able to play again without errors. If this doesn't work it usually does after rebooting my system. If it still doesn't work after that I run a disk check wich always find errors in the file system.

     

    I know this isn't a matter of wich media player I use, and it should be obvious to everyone else. I belive it could be related to Microsoft's "transactional NTFS" introduced in Vista, or that XP and Vista have different interpretations of the NTFS file system and how data is stored.

     

    I've run many disk checks on the drive. I usually do it whenever I'm experiencing problems with corrupt or missing files. About 90% of the times errors have been found. It's not an acceptable situation I'm in! I shouldn't have to constantly worry about losing data just for using my external drive!

     

    It's not just when I copy files to the drive in Vista that strange stuff happens but when I copy files from it to my Vista computer those files are often corrupted, even though I originally copied the files to the drive from my XP computer, where those files work perfectly!

     

    This is the single biggest problem I've ever had with Vista. Other than that Vista works fine for me, wich makes me hesitate going back to XP, since I like many of the features Vista offers, beside just looking way better graphically.

     

    I'm also considering dumping all the data on my drive to my brothers XP computer temporarily to reformat the drive from Vista this time, in hope of giving the drive a [for Vista] better suited NTFS partition.

     

    Does this ring a bell for anyone? Any clues? I'm getting kind of desperate here... I mean what the h***!? Not being able to copy data to my USB drive without losing tons more!?

     

    Thank you everybody in advance!

    Monday, July 21, 2008 3:39 PM

Answers

  • Hello again!

     

    I tried reformatting the drive through Vista this time (NTFS), but the problem remained.

     

    Since my drive is powered by an independent adapter from the power outlet I figured it couldn't be a case of insufficient power.

     

    But then it came to me that I've been using a 5 meter (about 16,5 feet) USB-extension cable to a USB-hub, wich I've had my drive connected to for a couple of months. By this I mean that everytime I've used my drive with my Vista computer I've been using this extension cable for conveniency, because the USB-hub's cable is so short, and the drive plugged into the hub. This is most probably what caused all those writing errors.

     

    And everytime I used the drive with other computers I've always plugged it into their own USB-plugs on the back-panels. This is what I'm doing now with my Vista computer instead and I haven't had any problems so far.

     

    The issue was probably that, due to the length of the extension cable, the signal became too weak and caused incomplete/corrupt data packages when writing to or reading from the drive. Now that I think about it, I think my USB-hub has it's own optional power supplier. I think I'll try it out some time, but in an more controlled enviroment, to see if it helps.

     

    To any of you guys out there with similar problems: Don't use an 1/4 mile long extension cable for your external storage divices! It works for input divices like gamepads, joysticks, mice and so on, because they aren't as critical. Eventual errors due to a weaker signal don't cause any serious problems.

     

    Thank you, Zhang, for your help and valuble opinions and information!

     

    P.S. Don't take the 1/4 mile seriously! I assure you that no such USB-cable exists to date. Even if it would be convenient to use your neighbour's spare USB-plugs it wouldn't work.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008 2:32 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

     

    Yes, it is recommended to re-format the external USB hard disk drive by using Windows Vista to test this issue.

     

    If the issue still persists, please confirm the following points:

     

    1.Do you have another external USB hard disk? Does it have the similar issue on the computer?

    2.Do you have the similar issue with this external USB hard disk on another known Windows Vista computer?

    3.Do you install the latest chipset driver and update your BIOS?

     

    This issue sounds like a USB power supply issue. At this time, let’s focus on your USB cable.

     

    Do you have a dual input USB cable?

     

    A number of USB devices require more power than is permitted by the specifications for a single port. This is a common requirement of external hard and optical disc drives. Such devices can be used with an external power supply of adequate rating, which is allowed by the standard, or by means of a dual input USB cable, one input of which is used for power and data transfer, the other solely for power.

     

    Low power supply can cause missing file, unstable states on external hard disk.

     

    So, if possible, could you please test your external USB hard disk with a dual input USB cable?

     

    In addition, you also can try to troubleshoot this issue in Clean Boot.

     

    Take a clean boot.

    =============================

    1. Click Start, type "MSCONFIG" (without the quotations) in the Search Bar and Press "Enter" to start the System Configuration Utility.

    2. Click the "Services" tab, check the "Hide All Microsoft Services" box and click "Disable All" (if it is not gray).

    3. Click the "Startup" tab, click "Disable All" and click "OK".

    4. Restart the computer and test the issue.

     

    Note: Clean Boot is a troubleshooting step. If some programs have been disabled, we can re-enable them later. If you see the System Configuration Utility, check the box of "Don't show this message" and then click "OK".

     

    Please monitor the system in the Clean Boot environment. If the problem does not occur, it indicates that the problem is related to one application or service we have disabled. You may use the MSCONFIG tool again to re-enable the disabled item one by one to find out the culprit.

     

    Hope it helps.

     

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008 10:04 AM
    Moderator
  • Hello again!

     

    I tried reformatting the drive through Vista this time (NTFS), but the problem remained.

     

    Since my drive is powered by an independent adapter from the power outlet I figured it couldn't be a case of insufficient power.

     

    But then it came to me that I've been using a 5 meter (about 16,5 feet) USB-extension cable to a USB-hub, wich I've had my drive connected to for a couple of months. By this I mean that everytime I've used my drive with my Vista computer I've been using this extension cable for conveniency, because the USB-hub's cable is so short, and the drive plugged into the hub. This is most probably what caused all those writing errors.

     

    And everytime I used the drive with other computers I've always plugged it into their own USB-plugs on the back-panels. This is what I'm doing now with my Vista computer instead and I haven't had any problems so far.

     

    The issue was probably that, due to the length of the extension cable, the signal became too weak and caused incomplete/corrupt data packages when writing to or reading from the drive. Now that I think about it, I think my USB-hub has it's own optional power supplier. I think I'll try it out some time, but in an more controlled enviroment, to see if it helps.

     

    To any of you guys out there with similar problems: Don't use an 1/4 mile long extension cable for your external storage divices! It works for input divices like gamepads, joysticks, mice and so on, because they aren't as critical. Eventual errors due to a weaker signal don't cause any serious problems.

     

    Thank you, Zhang, for your help and valuble opinions and information!

     

    P.S. Don't take the 1/4 mile seriously! I assure you that no such USB-cable exists to date. Even if it would be convenient to use your neighbour's spare USB-plugs it wouldn't work.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008 2:32 PM