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Are all external hard drives really this poorly made?

Last response: in Storage
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May 3, 2011 4:09:47 AM

Over the past 5 years, I've owned 5 external hard drives (Seagate and Western Digital). 4 of them have died or malfunctioned.

Recently, I moved houses. I packed 3 up well and when I plugged them back in, 2 were unable to be recognized by my or any other computer.

I've plugged them into numerous USB slots. I get an error message USB device not recognized- one of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. It's listed as Unknown Device in Generic USB Hub. Note that other devices work in my USB ports, so the problem isn't my computer.

None of the disks are clicking or making noise.

When I troubleshoot various ways using Windows, I get these error messages:

"Device driver was not successfully installed

Unknown Device- Failed

Windows has stoppped this device because it has reported problems (code 43)"

I don't see any screws on the casing-thinking of unscrewing them and installing them inside my machine- assuming I can do that.

The Seagate GoFlex Drive has a detachable base where the USB 3.0 and power cable plug in, so I've detached it and am going to see about getting a replacement. These things are so poorly constructed.

Is there any external hard drive that is built well? There's no way I'm going to buy another w/ a track record of 4/5 failing. Thanks.



May 3, 2011 4:29:01 AM

No, it must be just you, so be more careful with these things! ;-) Actually, I did have a 3.5" Ext WD 500GB drive that stopped working, so I pulled it out of the case and used it inside of my PC. It's still going just fine two years later. All my others, WD passports and fullsize Seagate ones are all working fine - different sizes, different ages, between 1yr and 4yrs. I've had a number of cheap flashdrives that have screwed up though, but still have as many that are years old and still working well.
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a b G Storage
May 3, 2011 4:29:36 AM

I've owned at least 5 recently, with no problems. I've bought Maxtor and WD because those are my preferred brands.

I've noticed that the external drives typically don't cost much more than the laptop drives they are probably based on, so I can't imagine that they put much into manufacturing the enclosures and interface boards.

I've also noticed that there are a lot of brands of external drives that don't actually make hard drives. I don't know what brands of drives they use, or if all of them are marginally made. I have seen articles on Toms for some of the ruggedized external drives that seem to show them as being very tough, so it is possible to find drives built better than average. The big problem is that they will be more expensive and people want to buy the cheapest product they can find.
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May 3, 2011 4:32:24 AM

I might need to look into those brands. I've had it with the Seagates and Western Digitals.

Any suggestions about how to solve the "USB Device Not Detected" problem with these 2 drives?
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a c 372 G Storage
May 3, 2011 12:15:44 PM

dudley99 said:
Over the past 5 years, I've owned 5 external hard drives (Seagate and Western Digital). 4 of them have died or malfunctioned.

Recently, I moved houses. I packed 3 up well and when I plugged them back in, 2 were unable to be recognized by my or any other computer.

I've plugged them into numerous USB slots. I get an error message USB device not recognized- one of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. It's listed as Unknown Device in Generic USB Hub. Note that other devices work in my USB ports, so the problem isn't my computer.

None of the disks are clicking or making noise.

When I troubleshoot various ways using Windows, I get these error messages:

"Device driver was not successfully installed

Unknown Device- Failed

Windows has stoppped this device because it has reported problems (code 43)"

I don't see any screws on the casing-thinking of unscrewing them and installing them inside my machine- assuming I can do that.

The Seagate GoFlex Drive has a detachable base where the USB 3.0 and power cable plug in, so I've detached it and am going to see about getting a replacement. These things are so poorly constructed.

Is there any external hard drive that is built well? There's no way I'm going to buy another w/ a track record of 4/5 failing. Thanks.


Have you ever considered building your own? You can buy external enclosures and hard drives separately and mount the drive in the enclosure yourself. This way you get to pick which make/model of drive you want installed in it. I've had a WD 250Gig drive in a Vantec Nexstar 3 enclosure running almost 24/7 for the last 3 years. I've never had a problem with it.
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a b G Storage
May 3, 2011 12:23:31 PM

since all of these enclosures are just boxes around a standard hard drive (though it might be a laptop sized drive) i would try installing it into your machine to double check if it is giving you issues or if it just your usb/hd case acting up.
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May 3, 2011 2:49:35 PM

I wouldn't say that they are poorly made, but sometimes the choices of hard-drives in the external enclosures are a bit sub-standard.

I know of one person who purchased an external hard-drive that was advertised as a 7200 RPM drive, and several months later it was having problems so he opened it up and found a 5400 RPM drive.

After having a hard-drive fail on me, I have chosen to building my own from just a regular hard-drive and purchasing an enclosure itself. This way as Hawkeye mentions, you get to pick the exact drive you want, what kind of enclosure you are looking for, and get to have fun assembling it as well.
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May 3, 2011 3:17:44 PM

Yes, for the future, I'll be doing exactly that. Thanks.
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a c 814 G Storage
May 4, 2011 12:44:27 AM

A BlacX docking station would work well for you I think.
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a b G Storage
May 4, 2011 9:50:56 PM

There are lots of ways to build your own. You can buy lots of different cases to put your own hard drive in. Note that some of the new large capacity laptop drives are thicker and won't fit in just any case. If you use 2.5" drives you can probably have them powered by the USB port, if you use 3.5" drives then you probably need an external power supply or the full set of ESATA cables.

For that matter you can just buy the USB-to-SATA cable and plug it into a bare drive and not even have a case. Many years ago I remember someone that carried a 3.5" IDE drive in their briefcase. The had opened their PC and routed the ribbon cable and power cable outside, so they could connect the drive on the outside of the case and remove it to take with them. Nowadays something like the docking station mentioned above makes this very easy to do. My company was buying several of the external desktop drives to use for remote backup. A person could buy the docking station and then buy however many bare hard drives as they wanted to use and accomplish the same thing.
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