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External (USB) Hard Drives + Reverse Polarity Front USB Connector

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April 22, 2011 2:50:24 PM

Hello,

Basically what happened was I bought parts for a custom build (ASUS P6X58D Premium, Intel i7 950-based) and had a computer repair shop put everything together. I didn't have a CD drive because I was planning to install the operating system (and do all my data transfers) via USB which would make it much more convenient because this was going to be a music production computer, so I really had no need for a CD drive in terms of distribution or data transfer.

So I get ready to install Windows XP through USB on a regular pen drive. For some reason BIOS isn't picking it up, so I try another pen drive, same thing. (Later when plugging these into another computer they don't work so I figure I sacrificed them with the formatting I had to do to put the Windows XP ISO file on them). At this point I'm guessing it must be that I do in fact need a CD drive for this particular motherboard for some odd reason, so I order one and install it, install the operating system and then I get ready to transfer data (programs and project folders) over to the new hard drive once XP is up and running, only the USB isn't registering at all. I get the "Device malfunctioned" thing in the lower right-hand corner. So, based exactly on what it says @ http://www.usbcheck.net/FAQ.php under "So, what's the problem," I do the whole 'human nature' thing and plug in my only two external USB hard drives, the second containing literally EVERYTHING. 13 years of work basically, completely irreplaceable data.

Now, when I try to plug them into another computer I get the 'USB Device Malfunction' error and 'Unknown Device' in the Device Manager (they both still turn on and light up, they're just seemingly not accessible on the other computer). My basic hope and overall question is essentially whether or not I'm doomed. Is this like someone getting struck in the head by lightning and losing all their memory? Or is there hope for data recovery?

P.S. Upon opening the case after doing this research I verified that the polarity of the USB front connector was improperly done (- went to + and - went to +). Too bad I didn't know to notice this kind of thing when installing the CD drive.)

THANK YOU to anyone who can shed light on this.

I guess I should also ask while I'm at it if the motherboard or any devices connected via PCI are potentially trashed.

More information: One hard drive is a WD My Book 2 TB and the other is a Seagate Freeagent 1 TB.

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a c 113 G Storage
April 22, 2011 3:55:50 PM

Here is the good news with this. Chances are good that the USB connection is fried. But chances are equally good that the actual drives are fine.

First, try a new cable. If that fails, crack open one of the cases and connect the drive to a PC. Even if they are laptop size drives, the SATA connections and power is the same as a regular PC one. Should be able to read the data that way.
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April 23, 2011 7:43:16 PM

Thanks for this advice (at this point even the prospect of hope is a good thing :bounce: ). Thus far I haven't attempted anything yet other than using another USB cable, which didn't make a difference. If the devices are inoperable from now on that will be just fine by me as long as the data is recoverable. I'll get around to extracting the drives from the cases and plugging them into another computer to try my luck at seeing if everything is still there.

I'm also stuck over whether or not the motherboard on the computer in question should be ok, as the source I cited gave me the impression that a reversed polarity can introduce input electricity from the USB front panel. I did have a BSOD upon rebooting Windows with no discernible cause :heink: .

I guess basically the question here (though technically a motherboard question) would be if switching the wires to their *proper* locations and using the computer as normal would be advisable..

Thanks again for shedding light on this!

Hopefully my next post after plugging the hard drives into another computer will be good news
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a c 113 G Storage
April 25, 2011 1:42:43 PM

Once you move the connectors to what they should be, the ports will be fine. Test it out with a keyboard or something when you do it.
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May 8, 2011 12:54:59 PM

Best answer selected by m4l4k41.
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May 8, 2011 1:01:28 PM

I was able to crack open the cases and the hard drives are good! :bounce:  :bounce:  :bounce: 

I'm guessing it did indeed fry the USB connection, so a lesson was definitely learned: always go through the back USB ports until you're sure that the front panel is installed correctly.

The hard drives now sit in new external enclosures and everything is gravy. Huge relief. Thanks very much for the advice!
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May 10, 2011 9:24:10 AM

Somewhat bad news. I sort of jumped the gun on my excitement. One of the drives work. I had purchased 2 new Sabrent enclosures. The 1 TB Seagate hard drive loaded instantly (this was the one intended for data transfer, although I also had all my music on it as well as several project file backups, hence the partial good news). The other hard drive (WD 2TB Caviar Green) containing ALL my other backups, irreplaceables, etc. isn't being recognized partition-wise. In Disk Management I simply get "Unknown/Not Initialized/Unallocated." I think this probably calls for a new thread because it seems like a whole new problem. :heink: 
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a c 113 G Storage
May 10, 2011 3:07:56 PM

m4l4k41 said:
Somewhat bad news. I sort of jumped the gun on my excitement. One of the drives work. I had purchased 2 new Sabrent enclosures. The 1 TB Seagate hard drive loaded instantly (this was the one intended for data transfer, although I also had all my music on it as well as several project file backups, hence the partial good news). The other hard drive (WD 2TB Caviar Green) containing ALL my other backups, irreplaceables, etc. isn't being recognized partition-wise. In Disk Management I simply get "Unknown/Not Initialized/Unallocated." I think this probably calls for a new thread because it seems like a whole new problem. :heink: 


Don't bother with a new thread, in the stroage forum there are hundreds of these topics, just do a forum search and see what options you have.
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May 26, 2011 6:53:28 AM

Turns out, the reason why one drive worked (Seagate Freeagent) and the other didn't was because of the encryption Western Digital put on this particular model (WD My Book Essential 2TB). So now, after verifying the USB connection itself appears to be not working (the drive + original PCB board itself will recognize USB, but computer won't), I'm left with the issue of somehow trying to utilize the encryption chip or from what I've heard purchase a 500 GB model which should work.

This is another lesson, always backup your backups.
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