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  1. #1
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    Question external HD has two personalities!

    I have a most frustrating problem with a new Western Digital 2TB external HD. The drive is NTFS formatted and works normally most of the time when it is left on. However, if I turn the drive off, then later turn it on again, I get a message that the drive needs to be formatted. Windows Explorer cannot access the drive, and under Disk Management it shows as a RAW drive. If I turn it off and on a few times, I eventually get a message that I have to scan and fix the drive; when this is done, no errors are found and the drive then behaves as expected - Disk Management again shows it as an NTFS formatted drive. Hence the two personalities!
    This happened with the first drive I bought, and I thought the problem was backup software related. However, this was not the case, and I replaced the drive under warranty, only to find the problem is still there. I googled "Your drive needs to be formatted" and it seems that this is not an uncommon problem - a drive seems to switch between RAW and NTFS. So far I have not found a solution. Some people blame Windows 7 (which I have), others insist it is operator error (I am doing nothing unusual with the drive), while most have no idea what causes the problem.
    I am hoping someone is this forum has found a solution to the problem. Why does the drive appear to switch between RAW and NTFS? I say "appears to switch" because it will return to NTFS without any formatting being carried out. The drive works perfectly when it is left on; it is only after switching it off then on again that the problem appears. And before anyone asks, I safely eject the drive rather than just switching it off.
    Suggestions will be appreciated.

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Windows 7 should not be doing this, it's highly unlikey that it's the sole cause.

    If your operating the drive from a laptop, ensure that the USB hub is capable of a consistant 500ma output.
    You might also try changing the drive letter and/or making it permanent for your external drive.
    (Especially if you have many USB drives, thumb drives, hidden or otherwise in use with multiple drive letters)
    Ensure nothing in the os has it's greedy little hooks into the drive, like system restore, indexing, or any other software process.
    Ensure that your cables are good/seated properly. Some of the passport drive can present these kind of difficulties.
    Move all of your data off the drive and [re] reformat it in NTFS.
    Try the drive on other computers with similar and differing operating systems to see if the behavior is reproducable on any of them.
    *You might also want to run the manufacturer's diagnostics on the drive. It's not inconcievable that you have another bad drive.*
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2011-10-04 at 11:25.

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    Along with what Clint said try unplugging the data cable until after the drive has been powered up for several seconds, if it has separate power cable. If it is powered by the USB cable, try a different port and a better cable with gold contacts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fifer1943 View Post
    I have a most frustrating problem with a new Western Digital 2TB external HD.
    This happened with the first drive I bought, and I thought the problem was backup software related. However, this was not the case, and I replaced the drive under warranty, only to find the problem is still there.
    fifer,
    Hello... This is the third WD Ext Drive problem that i have been involved with, or heard about on this forum ...Two (yours being one) with the RAW format the other with "Smartware" For some reason WD places, or formats their drives with "frustration-ware".. I would remove any data (full Image ) and wipe the disk and re-format (NTFS) it with a boot time partition manager like Gparted.. If the problem continues after that .... It's the WD hard Drive.... Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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    Thanks for the quick responses.

    @Clint
    Not operated from a laptop (but see my later comments)
    Drive has its own power supply
    I'm not sure how to check for "greedy hooks"!
    Cables are seated properly
    I have just reformatted the drive (NTFS) and I am now trying it attached to my laptop
    Checked the drive - appears to be OK

    @RussB
    I will try that later

    @Fred
    Reformatted while attached to my laptop (using Windows); may try Gparted if this fails

    I am trying the drive attached to my laptop for a few days to see what happens. I want to sync some folders using GoodSync, so I have to do it over a network which is much slower - at least the first time.
    I will report back when I have used the drive for a day or two - or sooner if things go wrong in a hurry!

    Thanks
    Fifer

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    Update
    I have had the offending drive connected to my laptop for a couple of days and so far no problems. I have synced some folders with my desktop (over my network), made a backup image of my laptop, as well as a backup image of my desktop (again over my network). Anything over the network is slow, but it did work. I have had no indications of corrupt files or folders to this point. I have turned my laptop and the external drive off several times, and it appears to be stable.
    As further experimentation, I have borrowed a WD My Book Essential external drive (2TB) from my son, and that has been hooked up to my desktop for about 24 hours. I have synced some folders from my desktop to that drive, but have not yet made a desktop image. That drive also appears to be stable attached to my desktop.
    So where does that leave me? The drive that caused me so many problems attached to my desktop so far behaves perfectly with my laptop (also running Windows 7). Another WD 2TB external drive (obviously in a different enclosure) appears to work well with my desktop. What can possibly be causing the problems? The fact that the problem drive works on my laptop seems to rule out the drive, connecting cable, and the enclosure. The fact that another 2TB WD drive works (so far) on my desktop seems to rule out any software/hardware incompatibility on my desktop. What is left?????

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    Quote Originally Posted by fifer1943 View Post
    The fact that another 2TB WD drive works (so far) on my desktop seems to rule out any software/hardware incompatibility on my desktop. What is left?????
    fifer,
    Hello...I know that this might sound silly.. But some times problems of the intermittent nature are cause by loose connections .. I have had a problem due i guess to my PC speakers being on my desk (causing vibration ) and over time had loosened up my motherboard screws, so that if i were to tap the tower it would result in a crash.... You might have something that is loose inside your tower ..I would open it up and have a look\see .. Also re-seat all connections and Memory Sticks ...While you at it remove all dead bugs Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fifer1943 View Post
    Update
    I have had the offending drive connected to my laptop for a couple of days and so far no problems. I have synced some folders with my desktop (over my network), made a backup image of my laptop, as well as a backup image of my desktop (again over my network). Anything over the network is slow, but it did work. I have had no indications of corrupt files or folders to this point. I have turned my laptop and the external drive off several times, and it appears to be stable.
    As further experimentation, I have borrowed a WD My Book Essential external drive (2TB) from my son, and that has been hooked up to my desktop for about 24 hours. I have synced some folders from my desktop to that drive, but have not yet made a desktop image. That drive also appears to be stable attached to my desktop.
    So where does that leave me? The drive that caused me so many problems attached to my desktop so far behaves perfectly with my laptop (also running Windows 7). Another WD 2TB external drive (obviously in a different enclosure) appears to work well with my desktop. What can possibly be causing the problems? The fact that the problem drive works on my laptop seems to rule out the drive, connecting cable, and the enclosure. The fact that another 2TB WD drive works (so far) on my desktop seems to rule out any software/hardware incompatibility on my desktop. What is left?????
    You may want to verify that the two drive have the same version firmware. If not can you make it so?
    Or just trade drives with your son, he won't mind, right SON?
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  9. #9
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    Thanks for the replies.
    I will check inside the case Fred; I do know it's pretty clean there.

    Russ, how do I check for firmware? I'm not even sure the drives are the same. My drive is a "bare" drive inserted into a purchased enclosure while my son's is a WD My Book Essential (a 2TB drive inside WD's own case.

    I had a strange occurrence earlier today. My son's drive, which had been stable for a day or more, suddenly started to misbehave. I got a message that there was a problem with a USB device,and device manager showed an unknown device under USB controllers. I tried reinstalling drivers, but I was told that the best drivers were already installed. The drive was invisible to Windows Explorer. I unplugged the drive (both power and USB connection), left it for a few hours, and when I reconnected it, everything was fine. Could this suggest a problem with my USB ports, or the USB controller (whatever that is)? I have had no problems with anything else connected to my USB ports.
    Any ideas on this???

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Does your computer/motherboard have the latest chipset drivers, have you checked recently with the manufacturer?

    Chipset driver updates are amung the most important updates that should be applied irregardless of current working state.

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    I do believe that my chipset drivers are up to date, but I will check.

    Further update.
    When I turned my computer on this morning, my son's drive was not recognized. Device manager showed an unknown device. I had to unplug and replug the drive several times before it was recognized. I forgot to mention earlier that both external drives I have tried are USB 3.0 but backward compatible with USB 2.0, which is what my USB ports are. I also have a USB 2.0 external drive that I have used for a couple of years that has given me no problems. It is a much smaller drive than the two USB 3.0 drives (around 250 GB). All of this leads me to suspect my USB ports or controllers/drivers. It is only the USB 3.0 devices that cause problems.

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    My chipset drivers are up to date.

    As I continue to investigate this problem, I become more convinced that it has something to do with my USB ports/drivers. When I turned my computer off overnight, then back on in the morning, the WD My Book was not recognized - it did not appear in Device Manager, Disk Management, or Windows Explorer. However, an "Unknown device" did show up under USB controllers. I had great difficulty getting the drive to be recognized, and this only happened after leaving the drive off and my desktop in sleep mode for a few hours. Once the drive is recognized, it remains stable for as long as my computer is on.
    As far as solutions are concerned, I don't know what to do. Can I change my USB drivers? Should I try a wireless router that I can attach the external drive to? Should I try attaching a USB NAS adapter to my existing wireless router?
    Any ideas out there?

  13. #13
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    I may have solved my problem with the WD MyBook drive. In BIOS I disabled support for legacy USB devices, and since then I have only seen one "USB device not recognized" message. When I restarted my computer, the drive was recognized again. I have turned my computer off several times and put it in sleep mode just as many times over a few days. I can't yet claim to have eliminated the problem, but it appears to have almost disappeared.
    I have not yet tried my other WD external drive (in an enclosure purchased separately) - the problem with that drive was different. See my first post in this thread for details. For that drive should I try a USB 3.0 card in my computer?

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