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Is USB hard drive stable technology?


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#1
Master T

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Recently we have some serious crashes occurring when we are transferring files to or from our newly purchased USB hard drive.

We would like to know if it's common problems of USB hard drive or there is something wrong about our computers. Would anyone answer the following questions:

Placement: Where is the best way to place the USB drive? Currently when I plug in the USB drive, I simply place it at the top of the desktop computer case. Is it alright?
Fan: Do I have to buy some external fans to cool down the USB drive? Is it necessary?
Lockup: Is it normal that a system will hang or lock up if:
(A) we are trying to cut/copy/paste many files at once?
(B) there are many cut/copy/paste operations are active at one time?
© copying/moving a large file (e.g. several GB large)
(D) the USB drive is running too long?

Legacy USB mode: Does "Legacy USB support" (in BIOS) has anything to do to affect the performance or stability of a USB drive? Should it be on or off?
Formatting: Is it safe to use Windows to format USB drive to NTFS, or should I use third-party tools? Will formatting by Windows cause instability problems like this?
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#2
dsenette

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Placement: Where is the best way to place the USB drive? Currently when I plug in the USB drive, I simply place it at the top of the desktop computer case. Is it alright?

anywhere that's physically safe (i.e. you won't drop the drive or spill something on it) is fine

Fan: Do I have to buy some external fans to cool down the USB drive? Is it necessary?

not usually....if the device were designed to need a fan it would have one....most external hard drives are not designed to be plugged in and on 24/7 so they don't have fans....if you're wanting an external drive that will be on 24/7 then you need to purchase one that is designed to do so.



Lockup: Is it normal that a system will hang or lock up if:
(A) we are trying to cut/copy/paste many files at once?
(B) there are many cut/copy/paste operations are active at one time?
© copying/moving a large file (e.g. several GB large)
(D) the USB drive is running too long?

these all depend on the drive in question...it's health....actual usage...system configuration...how you're holding your mouth when you're transferring...where the moon is in it's phase...and god knows what else

GENERALLY if you're having transfer issues with an external hard drive...especially when it's involving large files....it can be attributed to a power issue....if the drive is USB powered (i.e. the only cord going in or out is the USB cable) then your USB ports may not be supplying enough power to the device...GENERALLY front USB ports on the case get less power (or less reliable power) from the PSU than rear ports... the two solutions for this would be to either get an external drive with it's own power source (preferred) or to get a powered USB hub

as for the "running too long"....if the drive is meant to be a really big USB thumb drive (usually any external drive that doesn't have it's own external power source is designed for periodic use instead of 24/7 use) and you leave it plugged in and on ALL day EVERY day...then this can happen as the drive isn't designed to be on 24/7

Legacy USB mode: Does "Legacy USB support" (in BIOS) has anything to do to affect the performance or stability of a USB drive? Should it be on or off?

shouldn't make a difference if it's a new USB drive...if it was made more than 4 years ago...i'd turn that setting on...but it being on with a new drive doesn't matter

Formatting: Is it safe to use Windows to format USB drive to NTFS, or should I use third-party tools? Will formatting by Windows cause instability problems like this?

this is pretty much what the windows formatting utility was designed to do...format external media... you can use third party utilities if you like...but i don't see a reason to when there's one built in... and the likely hood of using the windows formatting utility instead of the manufacturer's utility causing any crashing issues is slim.... the only time it's required to use a manufacturer's utility is when the drive is brand new out of the box and was shipped unformatted (rare these days)...at which point you have to use the manufacturer's program to initialize the drive
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#3
Master T

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Thanks for the detailed explanation. :)

GENERALLY if you're having transfer issues with an external hard drive...especially when it's involving large files....it can be attributed to a power issue....if the drive is USB powered (i.e. the only cord going in or out is the USB cable) then your USB ports may not be supplying enough power to the device...GENERALLY front USB ports on the case get less power (or less reliable power) from the PSU than rear ports... the two solutions for this would be to either get an external drive with it's own power source (preferred) or to get a powered USB hub


The USB drive is Buffalo MiniStation Lite (Portable USB 2.0 Hard Drive)
It only has a USB cable. It's plugged in the rear ports.
The other USB devices plugged are 1 keyboard and 1 mouse.

as for the "running too long"....if the drive is meant to be a really big USB thumb drive (usually any external drive that doesn't have it's own external power source is designed for periodic use instead of 24/7 use) and you leave it plugged in and on ALL day EVERY day...then this can happen as the drive isn't designed to be on 24/7

Most of the time I leave the USB hard drive idle (without plugging it out). Does it matter?

Thank you. :)
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#4
mpascal

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Does the USB have it's own power supply or does it use power from the laptop? Like dsenette said, if it uses the laptop's power source it probably isn't meant to be on all the time, only when needed. If I've researched correctly, the device you have is more of a giant thumb drive than an external hard drive. My advice would be to only leave it plugged in when you are using it, that would probably be the safest way to store data.

-mp
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#5
Master T

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Does the USB have it's own power supply or does it use power from the laptop? Like dsenette said, if it uses the laptop's power source it probably isn't meant to be on all the time, only when needed. If I've researched correctly, the device you have is more of a giant thumb drive than an external hard drive. My advice would be to only leave it plugged in when you are using it, that would probably be the safest way to store data.

-mp


It only has the USB cable so it should be USB powered.
I plug it in both desktop and laptop computer (but laptop doesn't use battery. It's plugged to the wall at home).
I use this USB drive to store data and access the data from it.
Most of the time I leave it idle instead of removing it after usage. Will this cause problems? :)
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#6
mpascal

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It could cause problems, because most of the time if an external hard drive doesn't have it's own power source, it probably isn't meant to be plugged in all the time. If you are constantly accessing it, then it's fine to leave in. But in those times that you don't really need it I would remove it just to be safe. If you find yourself constantly using it like it's a second hard drive, I would upgrade to an external hard drive with a fan and external power source. In my experience these seem to be the safest.

Hope that helps.

-mp
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#7
Master T

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I would upgrade to an external hard drive with a fan and external power source.

Instead of replacing it completely (in other words buying a new drive), are there other ways I would "upgrade" it by adding external power source or built-in fan to the existing drive?
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#8
rc cool

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Hi Master T! Why don't you first try out the suggestions offerred by dsenette, mpascal etc., i.e., plug in the external drive only when you require to use it. See whether this gives any improvement. If iy does, then one can think about doing "something" to "upgrade" it, as desired by you. However, mind it this sort of upgradation is uncharted territory...
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#9
123Runner

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The drive in question is a mini. Meaning it is an external drive with no external power. It is a laptop drive (2 1/2 inch SATA) in a case.

Being that it is only powered by USB, sometimes any minor fluctuation in the power supplied to the USB hub could cause issues (you will never know this).
I would probably not leave it connected all the time (give it a rest periodically).

When you disconnect make sure you do it by the "safely remove hardware". Otherwise you will see corruption and failure on the drive to the point where you will lose access to it completely.
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#10
Master T

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The drive in question is a mini. Meaning it is an external drive with no external power. It is a laptop drive (2 1/2 inch SATA) in a case.

Being that it is only powered by USB, sometimes any minor fluctuation in the power supplied to the USB hub could cause issues (you will never know this).
I would probably not leave it connected all the time (give it a rest periodically).

When you disconnect make sure you do it by the "safely remove hardware". Otherwise you will see corruption and failure on the drive to the point where you will lose access to it completely.


Must I completely plugged the USB drive off or is it okay to just disconnect (in other words the drive is disabled by the software only. It's still physically plugged in)?

I have a program which can re-enable the USB drive with a click only. It's inconvenient to periodically plugging the drive in and out of the rear port.
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