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Problem with Windows XP & External HDDs

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  • Problem with Windows XP & External HDDs

    I have a problem that may or may not be related to the Windows OS, but its the most likely cause after all my troubleshooting, and so I thought I'd start here. I have found this site (and more recently this forum) invaluable over the years and so I figured what better place to start.

    The bottom line is, over the past month or so, I have noticed a problem when using any one of my external HDDs on a Desktop running Windows XP Pro SP2 (all up to date and clean of spyware/virii etc - as best as I can tell). Whenever one is hooked up and I try to use it (or any otehr drive) in any way (transfer files to or from, access files on the drive from within an application) the drives works fine ~ 80% of the time, but seems to "hang the system" for ~ 30s or so every 5min. And when I say hang, I mean hang - keyboard - mouse locked up, nothing repsonds at all. But then it "comes back to life" as if nothing happened. This occurs simply when the drive is attached, but only during times the HDD is accessed - but not necessarily the external drive (even accessing the DVD drive causes similar problems).

    At first I assumed it was a faulty drive, but all 5 of the external drives I have work flawlessly on the other systems I have, both in a Linux and windows environment. They are a mish-mash of technology from different vendors - USB2, FW and eSATA with both SATA and IDE drives, and no matter how or what is connected - same thing happens.

    I have other things plugged into my USB ports - printer, scanner, camera etc - all of which work fine and do not cause the problem. Similarly, I have other IDE & SATA drives inside the case that also run fine, as long as I dont plug an external drive in.

    Then I figured maybe it was my power supply being overwhelmed, and so I unplugged everything I possibly could except for my video card, NIC and system drive - and the problem is still there if I plug in an external drive.

    I have checked the settings of each drive (all operating at the correct UDMA speed), the drive controllers, drivers for anything that needs drivers, and even went out and got a PCI SATA card thinking my MoBo might be the issue, and still no luck. (I also updated the BiOS on my MoBo - no luck).

    I chose not to bore you with my HW specs, as I dont think they are relevant in this case, however, if anyone that can help needs to know exactly what my setup is, then I am happy to post it.

    Thanks for reading this incredibly long and boring post. Here's hoping someone has a bright idea that I havent tried yet.



  • #2
    Re: Problem with Windows XP & External HDDs

    Is there a lot of activity on the external drive while the system "locks" ?
    If so, does the activity stop most of the rest of the time?

    Tom Jones
    MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
    IT Trainer / Consultant
    Ossian Ltd

    ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **


    • #3
      Re: Problem with Windows XP & External HDDs

      There is NO activity on any device when the system hangs. Everything completely stops - no blinking of any lights on any device.