Last week I turned on my PC as usual just to find that it refused to boot up, not even making it to the XP splash screen. After a couple of retries I figured more direct action was required…
So, I unplugged all the external hardware, printer, network, webcam, external HDD, etc. Booted first time!
Gradually re-connecting the hardware and re-booting pointed to the external Maxtor drive. Re-booting with the drive attached caused the PC to hang, and when attaching the drive once the machine was up and running the drive was initially detected but then reported an error and was inaccessible (didn’t even appear in the drive list). I tried the drive on two other PC’s and my laptop, with different USB cables, with the same result.
I was already on my second one of these drives (the first didn’t work ‘out of the box’). This one is less than one year old.
Skipping on to the solution to recovering my data…
I figured that there were one of two possible problems, USB interface on the drive or, actual failure of the drive itself. Either way, removing it from the housing was not going to make things any worse.
Apparently some of these drives have two screws holding the external case on, mine is not one of these… in the end it was a case of a sturdy screwdriver and a fair amount of brute force (more than I felt comfortable with to be perfectly honest). Having mangled the outer casing, it appeared to have two sliding metal clips internally on the long edges of the case that could possibly have been manipulated to release the case, had I known they were there. Anyway, I wasn’t going to need the case again either way…
It was then a fairly easy task to remove the actual drive from it’s metal housing and unplug it from the PCB with the USB interface.
Power down the PC. Attach the drive to via a dual IDE cable internally (I left the jumper settings alone). Re-boot.
The drive appears to be in perfect working order, and has not skipped a beat for the last week. So I can only assume that the USB interface was the offending item in this case.
So, if your External Maxtor drive has died, and you want a last resort to recovering your data, this is worth a go.