How are you connecting it.
If just pluging the encluser into a USB 2 port, yor problem is probably insuffient power.
USB2 provides +5 V that is limited to 0.5 Amps (2.5Watts). The start up power and power required during read/writes for may external HDDs exceed USB2 specs.
You need to:
1) use a Powered enclosure or
2) plug it into a Powered USB2 Hub then the hub into computer. or
3) obtain a 2 "headed" usb cable. This is a cable that plugs into the external HDD and then into two seperate USB2 ports (sometimes this does not work).