I have a pretty urgent problem. I own a HP-Compaq NX9005 laptop with a failing hard disk (reported by SMART). Now, the laptop is standard configuration, except for the uprgraded memory (1GB) and BIOS upgrade. It is no longer supported by HP.
Now, to back up all my data, I got a 250GB Maxtor HDD and a Firewire harddisk enclosure. I assembled the contraption, connected it, formatted it NTFS and started copying files. It stopped at about 300MB copied. Windows gave me a Delayed Write Failed error, the external HDD hanged (busy light on) and dissapeared from the windows explorer.
I tried the enclosure with another computer and it worked fine. I tried the laptop's Firewire connection with my digital camcorder and it also worked perfectly.
Windows my still be trying to write to the HDD and is getting errors because of r-w access permissions. Are you doing this with compression? If not, I suggest you use a backup utility to do so, it will work around any delay issues.
If you still have a problem I would then try doing it over a network, then use SSH to secure the transerfer.