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  1. #1
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    USB backup drives insist on being formatted

    I thought I was being smart by buying external USB drives to backup my files, adding three of them to my system over the years as my backup needs grew and as prices declined. Not so smart. What good are USB backup drives if suddenly one day Windows 7 won't recognize them any more and insists that I format them? That's the situation with two of them. The third, 2 TB in size, was supposed to make up for the others. It's still functioning, although not optimally, because every time I connect it, Windows 7 takes a long time to look at it, then reports that it would like to scan it, a process that I've allowed a couple of times but which takes a terrifically long time and only ends in my being told that nothing can be done. Windows 7 Backup and Restore refuses to use the big drive. So here's what I'm left with--two bad HDs comprising 850 GB of inaccessible space, much of it supposedly backing up a massive number of my old files, plus a 2 TB drive that Windows doesn't seem to like very much. All this is giving me backup jitters.

    I can't believe it's just a coincidence that three drives have malfunctioned. That's made me wary of going out and buying a fourth drive, because I may just end up with fourth device that needs rescuing. Does anyone have any idea what might explain all these things happening? Is there any hope of getting my inaccessible data back, or will I have to try reformatting the two lost drives?
    Last edited by DavidToronto; 2011-03-25 at 05:57.

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  3. #2
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    Hi David, what is the file format on your USB's.
    George's PC Specs. / Laptop. Desktop.

  4. #3
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    I hate to say this but it sounds as if the drives are failing. But before you give up hope, try connection them to another computer. The other computer does not have to be physical - it could be a virtual machine. If you have Win 7 Pro, Ultimate or Enterprise, you are entitled to a free copy of XP via Virtual PC. If not, you can still install VirtualBox and install XP there. Or you could install Linux into a VirtualBox VM. Or you could dual boot with another OS. One of the best reasons for multi-booting is in case something goes wrong, there is still another OS that you can boot and at the minimum hopefully recover files.

    And I just had another thought - it could be that the USB ports on your PC are going bad. Try attaching the drives to another physical PC and see if they work there. If they do, you can buy a USB PCI card, install it in your PC, and plug the external drives into that. (Actually, since all of your USB drives are having the same problems, this is the most likely cause.)

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  5. #4
    Platinum Lounger
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    I second the USB port problem suggestion.
    It is not wise to attempt to repair a USB hard disk by connecting it to the USB port, you will get much better results by connecting it directly to the IDE / SATA connector on your computer and check it from there.

    cheers, Paul

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidToronto View Post
    Does anyone have any idea what might explain all these things happening? Is there any hope of getting my inaccessible data back, or will I have to try reformatting the two lost drives?
    David,
    Hello.. When you look at them using (external drives) "Computer Management"> "Disk management " what does "Windows" Report? Did somehow the drive letters get "messed up" or some other anomaly ? Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roderunner View Post
    Hi David, what is the file format on your USB's.
    I'm curious about this as well. From the factory they are usually formatted with FAT32. I prefer to reformat them with NTFS since I only use them with OSes that support it. But the idea of a bad USB port is certainly plausible. You might also try a different USB cable. That's more likely to be a problem than the port itself.
    Chuck

  8. #7
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    Thank you. You made me re-think what I had done. I had tried several USB ports, but didn't stop to think that they were all from the same 4-port rack, that is, they were all on the same expansion card. So when I tried connecting them to a different set of USB ports, the 2 "lost" HDs magically returned to life. So that solves the problem with my 2 "bad" drives. I've now successfully done a backup of various data to those two drives.

    The 2 TB drive that Windows Backup & Restore doesn't like might be a different matter. Something has changed, probably for the better, in that after allowing the Scan & Fix that Windows wanted to do upon connecting it, I got a message that repairs were made; afterwards, Backup & Restore didn't baulk in quite the same way that it used to. However, it neither seemed to complete a backup--there was no noise, no progress bar, no sign of a folder being created on the HD--nor did it give me an error message. It stayed in that zombie state for 3-4 hours, even though I only asked for a backup of my C: drive, which has barely 40 GB of data on it. When I clicked on Options in the Check Backup Settings area of B&Restore, I got a message saying, "Windows Backup Troubleshooting Options: Backup is currently running. A backup failed in the past but backup is currently running. You can troubleshoot again if the current backup fails." Finally, I lost patience, clicked on the Close button, then immediately ran B&Restore again; this time I see a progress bar telling me that the backup is 35% complete. Still, I'm suspicious of this, since I don't see any progress, and taking 3-4 hours to backup about 13GB seems awfully slow. I wonder if anything is actually happening. However, I'll let it go, overnight if necessary. At least I know I have access to my other backups (I do file backups of my data using Karen Kenworthy's Replicator). Maybe it will all work out.

    I think Acronis True Image can do a backup faster than B&Restore is doing.

    ... 10 hours later. OK, everything seems to be working now. The backup is continuing, having reached 82% after 15 hours. That seems terrifically slow to me, but at least it appears to be working. Another 3-4 hours should do it. I still don't see any new folder created on the drive to hold the backup, so I'm trusting--not foolishly, I hope--in the progress bar B&Restore is showing me <biting my nails>. Thanks for the tips, everyone.
    Last edited by DavidToronto; 2011-03-25 at 06:05. Reason: update

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidToronto View Post
    I think Acronis True Image can do a backup faster than B&Restore is doing.
    David,
    Hello... Yes you are correct... You can Image with Acronis 2010 V-7046 much faster. Acronis can "Image" my OS.. C: (about 22 GB) in less than 7 minutes with verification. Wouldn't recommend Acronis 2011. You can also use a free imaging program from Macrium Reflect http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp Just check out the lounge (do a search) on Macrium if you have any questions about it. Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

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