External hard drive showing as "offline" in disk management

Hey guys,

I have a computer on my work bench that I use to look up answers on google and download drivers or other software for customers computers that im fixing. I also have an IDE and SATA to USb adaptor to hook up a hard drive to the computer. I use this to run disk checks on the drive or to backup data. This computer has Win XP for years, but it started having more and more random issues so I decided to wipe it and install win 7. ever since doing this I'm running into a problem form time to time.

With certain disks, I'll plug in using the IDE or SATA to USB adapter, and it won't show up in "my computer". if I go into Disk Management it will show the drive in there, but its listed as "offline" if I right click on it and select "online" it will recognize the disk and they will show up in my computer. this doesn't happen with all drives, just some of them... and I can't figure out a common thread.

anyone come across this before? any solutions for win 7 to always put a drive "online"?
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More about external hard drive showing offline disk management
  1. Hi there,

    Have seen the same problem from time to time with removable drives (USB or 1394), and think it has to do with those disks having been set up as a Dynamic Disk initially or converted to a Dynamic Disk. MS Press Windows 7 Inside/Out says the "Offline" status only appears on dynamic disks.

    One way to check this out is using the Command Line Interface, run Cmd, then change directories to the root. Type DiskPart. When your drive is connected, type "List Disk" and you will get a readout of all disks connected, their Status, Size, Free space, and whether they are Dynamic or have GPT partitions. In DiskPart, you can type "Select Disk x" (whichever it is), they type "Online Disk" to bring it online. However, it may well be easier to right click "Online" under the DiskMgmt Disk Status area.

    Hope that's helpful
  2. It happens quite a bit with external drives
  3. its strange because this never happened with windows XP....Any suggestions on how to fix it?

    I had one issue with trying to backup a customer's drive (it was a Vista computer) I pulled the drive, hooked it up to my WIN 7 machine via the SATA to USB connector, had to go into disk management to put the drive "online" so I coudl see it. I did the backup, but when I put the drive back in my customers computer, it wouldn't boot. I had to boot from an ERD commander for vista Disk that I have and run startup repair, this fixed it and got it booting again..... but im worried about this going forward....
  4. Going forward, when you connect a removable drive to your Win-7 (?64bit or 32 bit) test computer, run diskpart to see exactly how the removable drive is configured before doing anything to it. You might also take the same sata disk, and connect it directly to your test computer via a SATA cable, to see if the Offline status could have something to do with the SATA-USB or PATA-USB controller conversion process.

    I have seen other problems moving removable drives temporarily from an XP machine to a Win-7 computer where they show up as ReadOnly, but think that is more related to the different way the OS handles security permissions, than drive styles.
  5. The test computer is a Win-7 64 bit machine.

    what would disk part tell me exactly?

    I can't hook it up directly via SATA since the computer itself has 2 hard drives installed (which is the max) I have 1 system drive, and 1 data drive that I store the images on

    Maybe all of this brings up a better topic... is there an easier way to image my clients computers without removing the drives and hooking them up to this computer via an SATA to USB adapter? I've spent a lot of time trying to set up ghost over the network but had no luck (which is why I'm doing it this way... it works.. at least it did in win XP)

  6. When you installed your Win-7 OS on the test computer, did you have both disks attached then, that they may have been set up as dyanmic disks?

    The DiskPart is a text mode command line interpreter that is used to configure and maintain disks. It has about 30 subcommands. Have to begin Cmd to start it. It's just one of the cmd applets used to manage disks, like DiskPart, FSUtil, Chkdsk, Defrag.

    You can view and change most basic disk settings directly. For example DiskPart> "list disk" - will give you a table screen printout of the attached Disk numbers, Disk ###, Status of each, Size of each disk, Free Space, whether Dynamic or Basic types, and whether using an MBR or GPT partition style.

    Using the disk # it listed for the disk you are interrogating, you could type "select disk x", then type "detail disk", to get all the configuration detail about the disk.

    It might give you some insight as to why you and your test disk aren't see eye to eye.
  7. Looking in disk management on the Win 7 test computer, both disks that are installed are set up as Basic disks.... I just plugged in a customers laptop drive and it came up fine.. (it was also a basic disk)

    Next time I come across a drive with this issue, I'll make sure to note if its a basic or a dynamic disk (maybe only dynamic disks are the issue?)
  8. Great! report back as you go along. There is very little written about the status & config change of disks as they are interchanged between systems and what changes occur when they go from a fixed to removable ones and back again.
  9. Hi.
    Just wanted to report that it does happen in internal disks and in XP as well.

    I have an internal (dynamic) 1.5 Tb Green Caviar WD hd that disappeared suddenly yesterday.
    It appears as "offline" in the Disk Management window.
    I was able to make it go online once (from Disk Management) before going to sleep.
    But this morning, it was offline again. Could not bring it back. Could not complete a WD Diagostic Quick Scan.

    I am using a small app, TestDisk, to copy part of its content to another partition.

    TestDisk reports that it brought the partition back online, bit i have to reboot to verify it and i am doing all this by remote control, so i'll have to report back tonight.

    Not a lot of info on offline disks around, as far as i can tell.
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