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I have a test server that runs Windows XP, and we attach an external hard drive to it via USB 2.0. (And yes the computer has USB 2.0 ports on it)

The drive is a 1.5 Terrabyte Segate FreeAgent drive (model ST315005FDA2E1-RK) which is formatted with NTFS. It is

hooked into a Belkin Hi-speed USB 2.0 7 port hub (model #F5U307).
Hi-speed USB 2.0 7 port hub model #F5U307

If I leave the external hard drive connected to it for too long I get a message that says something about "Windows Delayed Write Failure" and then the external HDD re-attaches itself to the server, but it always crashes any programs that happened to be using the drive at the time as well.

Is there any solution to this problem, it's plauged me for years!

P.S. Yeah, I know I should probably upgrade already. I'm waiting for Windows 7.

(Oh, and after taking a look at the specs on the FreeAgent website, apparently after 15-minutes of non-usage this thing turns off! It says however that you can adjust this setting...)

Update

Just as an update to this question, since I tried changing the power save settings to off, I've left the drive and a virtual machine I had running on all day and thus far have not received the "Windows Delayed Write Failure" error that I had received before. If anything changes I will update the post.

Update 2

I started having the same problem again after I made a fix to the power settings. I looked around at a couple of pages on the Internet about this, and one of them said that if you have it hooked up to a USB hub that can't handle it, that you'll start getting "Windows Delayed Write Failure" errors. I've now started plugging the external HDD directly into the machine not using the hub, and that seems to take care of the problem.

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You mentioned below that this is a 1.5Tb Seagate external drive, that sounds pretty recent. I would expect that Seagate would be able to produce a decent enclosure that could do the right USB mojo while the drive is spinning up. If this has been a problem for years, maybe the problem exists with your host, not the external drive. Can you edit your question to give more details ? You're not plugging the drive into a USB 1.1 socket by any chance? –  Dave Cheney May 5 '09 at 17:08
    
Your second update sounds exactly like my problem with the long USB extension cable. –  ChrisF Jul 1 '09 at 11:14
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your external hard drive has probably gone into power save mode and its power up sequence is taking a fraction longer than Windows is prepared to wait. Once Windows has decided that the device had a serious error, it's probably forceable unmounting the drive and reattaching all over again, which is why it shows up on the desktop again.

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Right, but is there anyway to change this? So that either the power down doesn't occur or so that Windows waits longer for the hdd? –  leeand00 May 5 '09 at 22:59
    
I tend to remeber that the drive came with some software on it...it was called Seagate Manager....I'm going to go and give that a try. –  leeand00 May 5 '09 at 23:14
    
Okay I found the Seagate Manager and downloaded it again. Once I brought the Seagate manager up I clicked "My Drives", selected my drive from the list, and clicked the "Settings" button. From there there was an "Adjust Power" Setting button which I clicked and a drop down which I set to "NEVER" Hopefully this worked...I'll let you know if it did. –  leeand00 May 6 '09 at 0:28
    
Well okay, it seems like this...while the drive doesn't power down now...it does seem to overheat, and then does the same thing...I've put a large fan that runs all the time infront of the drive to hopefully help clear this up... –  leeand00 May 9 '09 at 3:42
    
It sounds like you have a hardware fault, the drive should be able to run 24x7 without fault. If the drive is 'powering down' while its supposed to be always on, there is probably something wrong with the enclosure. –  Dave Cheney May 9 '09 at 7:45
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Chances are good that there's something wrong with the drive, USB/drive bridge, cable, USB host hardware, or USB stack software on the PC.

Is this problem replicable on other hardware with the same drive, or on this same hardware with another hard drive?

It should only happen when the drive detaches from the computer while a write operation is pending.

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Good point, the drive may have some sectors that are getting close to unreadable. If the drive is formatted FAT32 then this is doubly possible as FAT32 does not spread its filesystem information around the disk, it just sticks it all at the front of the drive, and area which is more susceptible to failure. –  Dave Cheney May 5 '09 at 16:39
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What brand is the enclosure? Some are really cheap and don't perform well under large loads.

You may want to enable optimize for fast removal somewhere in the Device Manager for the device. That turns off the journaling.

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@Daniel It's a Seagate One Terribyte external. –  leeand00 May 5 '09 at 16:52
    
Ah no...it's 1.5 terabytes... –  leeand00 May 5 '09 at 16:52
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What length USB cable is connecting the hard drive to the PC? I had a similar problem and eventually Windows (XP) decided it couldn't connect to the drive altogether. However, I was connecting the drive via an extension cable. When I used the short (< 1m) cable that came with the drive I had no problems connecting or writing to the drive.

That said Dave Cheney's answer is a good possibility too.

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I believe Daniel and Adam are on to something. I had a similar problem with an external drive. I solved it by removing the hard drive and installing it into the PC. It worked fine although there was some bad data on it caused probably by some of the bad writes. In this case, the drive (Western Digital) has since functioned well, so I'm left thinking the external case's circuitry (third-party cheap enclosure that I got for the price of a visit to the Chinese buffet) was poor quality.

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