My laptop wont allow me to use external hard drive disks D:

Recently, I bought an ASUS Laptop from my sisters boyfriend. Needless to say, Ive been working on getting this thing to full capacity as soon as possible, but I need to back some of the original owners information up. The problem is that every time I plug in one of my external drives the laptop either doesnt recognize them or disconnects them while theyre copying files.
Im really starting to lose my patience. I want to reinstall Wndows 7 on this PC but I cant do it right away because I need to get this guy's informatin out before. Yet, this PC seems to hate my external drives and wont let them do their work at peace.
Any ideas on how to fix this?

Also, I had an idea but I think its a little bonkers. What if I reinstall Windows 7 Ultimate right now? Would I lose all of the previous owners information or would Windows 7 put it in a folder called ''Old Files'' or something? I remember reinstalling Windows 7 on my netbook like a year ago and I think it did just that. Im not sure though. Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance,
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