Western Digital sata drives bad

I have a new backup solution for our Windows 2003 OS Server. It consists of a PCI express card with eSATA cable going out to an external enclosure that accepts a hard drive caddy. The caddys
(there are two caddys, one for current backup and the other for offsite storage) has Western Digital 320GB SATA hard drives installed. When swapping caddys into the enclosure the Server fails to see the drive and wont show up in Windows.. The drives start out OK and I can initialize them and format OK but after several withdrawals and inserts they cannot be recognized any longer. I have changed out the whole backup system, PCI express card, cable and Enclosure. I have had three WD drives go "BAD" in one month. The company says that if a HD is inserted into the enclosure that is "bad" the server has a cache that makes any attempt to insert any other drive fail as well. They say that the ONLY way to clear this cache is to Shut down the server, pull the AC plug for 30 seconds and reboot.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. I don't have a lot of experience with eSata / Server 03. If it was me, to troubleshoot, I'd go get a USB 2 enclosure for the drives, try plug it in that way. Just to isolate the drive vs the path. USB 2 can be a bit slow for backup, but that will at least let you do something short term.

    How much data are you backing up?

    Another option is copy the data over the network to a PC, then back up from there. See if the esata works on a completely different PC.
  2. Hey gtvr,
    Thanks for the reply.
    Backing up only @ 5-6 Gb per evening and @ 60-80 Gb per my monthly backup
    Granted not much data but all important company data.

    I have ordered 2 Seagate SATA drives to replace the "BAD" Western Digital pair.
    I am pretty gun shy by now and would like for this backup solution to work but we cannot keep rebooting the server just to swap out an external hard drive. and we cannot keep throwing money and time and hard drives at it.

    I am ranting here so forgive me.

    Does anyone know about the cache thing and if there is a way to clear it without rebooting?

    I probably will have to find a system that I can install the WD hard drives into, one at a time, to see if they indeed are Bad or if the backup solution is just hosed or is hosing the drives beyond usefulness.
  3. no problem

    I know this doesn't answer your question, but have you considered tape? The advantage there is much lower cost along with the flexibility to have multiple rotations/backup sets. I mean, it may be higher initial cost, but you can keep more data on more tapes. For example, keep a year's worth of monthly backups, a few months of daily backups. Having them on multiple tapes gives you extra redundancy.
  4. I am put off by a design for a device intended to use multiple drives mounted in separate caddys that decides to "brand" every drive as bad if ONE drive has a problem! I don't know whether that is the external unit, its driver software, or the Server 2003 system that is doing this, but it seems a pretty odd flaw!

    I am skeptical that several WD HDD units all developed flaws within a short time using this system. It seems much more likely to me that the software has written corrupt information to the drives, and they actually do NOT have hardware malfunctions. The "faulty" units need to be diagnosed to determine the real mode of failure. If it's a software issue, replacing the hardware is an expensive way NOT to solve the problem.
  5. Paperdoc,
    You can then understand how skeptical I am about this. I have been a tech in the field and electronic / system troubleshooter for the last 40 years and I know that disk drives do fail but not this often and this quick.

    I am trying to locate a system ( we don't have one in house ) that I can just slap the Sata drive into and fire it up.

    Tape is where I am going away from... tape cartridges are currently 50-70 bucks a copy and I have 20-25 that are old and need replacement.

    Thanks both for adding your suggestions.

    Oh BTW the support guy for this backup hardware ( and he seems to be on top of things ) logged into the server and did not like the drivers that were loaded.. so he deleted them and now our server will not boot. It comes up and goes through the SCSI utility and sees the C: and D: drives, brings up the windows splash screen and BSOD flashes and reboots itself ...you know the drill ... constantly recycles through it over and over.

    We cant get to a command prompt. Can't safe boot, can't safe boot to command prompt, can't get to what to do with the original Windows 2003 disk etc..etc...

    Trying now to load and burn an iso file to a CD that may get us to a command prompt...

    I suspect this rant doesn't belong here... I am very sorry.. Chalk it up to I just joined this forum today... Hope I am forgiven..
  6. Windows recognition of removable disks seems iffy to me. I had a drive mounted in a USB dock that hiccuped and lost it's USB connection. Subsequent attempts to mount the drive caused Windows 7 to refuse to recognize it - Disk Manager showed the drive connected but the partition operating in "RAW" mode and unavailable to Windows Explorer. Other drives would work fine when connected. I had to reboot in order to clear the problem and use the affected drive again.

    For daily incremental backups, I use an alternating pair of USB flash memory drives. My backup script runs the incremental backup to an internal hard drive, checksums it, copies it to the flash drive, then verifies the checksum. That way the copy on the flash drive is known to be good and I also have an online copy of the backups which can be handy. I have enough room for several generations of backups on each flash drive. I find this works really well for me.
  7. OP, your helpful Tech Support people caused a vexing problem. IF you can determine which drivers he deleted, then you can discern which devices they relate to. Could you then disconnect all of those devices temporarily so that, on start-up, Windows never sees the devices? MAYBE then it would skip trying to find their drivers and be able to boot enough to clean things up. If that could be done, you could then re-install the devices and their drivers one by one.

    I guess I don't know whether Windows is choking because it has load instructions for drivers it cannot find, or whether it only tries to load if they are needed because a device is present. I guess I have to suspect, though, that at least one critical file was deleted that was NOT just a driver for this backup system.
  8. Well here it is Monday morning... Whew Last Friday was a stressful afternoon.
    The file/s that were deleted had to be restored..Had to burn a bootable XP CD to get to a command prompt.
    One file that was deleted was a .dll and I suspect it was the one that caused the whole mess.

    Anyway our server is back up and happy albeit lacking the backup system.

    Thank you all for joining in on the party, I appreciate all the hints and suggestions.

    I am going to move the backup system to my PC that runs Win XP and do the server backups over the network. I hope

    Wish me luck.
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