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Simpletech 320 GB external hard drive dead!

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I have the 320 GB Simpletech (Hitachi) Signature mini Pininifarina external hard drive, bought in August 2009. Since then I have had the occasional minor glitch, such as when trying to unplug it from my laptop (Acer Aspire 5735, running Windows Vista Home Premium) I would get a message saying: “Cannot disconnect; ‘Generic Volume’ still in use”. And a couple of weeks ago the cable stopped working properly, but I found another to fit it and it has functioned perfectly well since then.
Then on Saturday night it suddenly stopped working properly. I was listening to music and the files suddenly wouldn’t open. It was late so I simply disconnected the hard drive, turned off my computer, and left it til morning. On Sunday morning, when I plugged my hard drive into my laptop, I heard the usual “du-du” sound Windows makes when you insert a USB device. But then nothing. No autoplay options, nothing detected in Windows Explorer. Hmm… Changing the cable, unplugging and re-plugging, restarting my computer, all did nothing. I tried it on a different computer; still nothing. The device is initially detected when I plug it in, but nothing further happens. Occasionally it does show up under ‘Computer management > Device management’. It has a little yellow exclamation mark, and a notification saying ‘This device cannot start’. If I click ‘Check for solutions’ Windows does a search and then tells me that the device driver is up to date, nothing more can be done. Crap.

On the hard drive itself, there is a red light to show connection and a blue light to show when it’s busy doing something. The red light illuminates and stays on constantly, but the blue flickers weakly once and then stays off. There is also a faint tapping sound from the hard drive, like a heartbeat. It ticks rhythmically 36 times (yes I have been dejectedly sitting here with my ear pressed to it), then makes a sound like a video being rewound for a few seconds, then starts another 36 clicks. It repeats this six or seven times, then sounds like it is spinning normally. But still nothing happens. Double crap.

Ok, so now I’m getting a little worried. That thing contains all my music and pictures, and some documents. I have a few bits and pieces backed up on my laptop, but the rest – ah! Not to worry, they’re on the family computer at home! (I should explain, I’m living in France at the moment, but originally from the UK) Quick phone call to my Dad – only to discover that in updating the home computer to Windows 7, they decided I obviously didn’t need my user account any more, cos I don’t live with them at the moment, and besides I have everything I need on my external hard drive; so they deleted it……………

Triple crap.

Ok so now I really need to get this Signature Mini working! I look around online, and a few forums suggest checking the BIOS – hmm, I’m not very computer-y minded so I’m not entirely sure how to change those, but as far as I can see it’s not that. Reinstalling the drivers – nope, that doesn’t work either. If I try to reinstall from scratch I get a little popup saying ‘Installing device drivers, click here for status’. The status scrolls for a little bit, installing… installing… still installing… failed. Quadruple.. well you get the idea by now.

As a last ditch attempt I followed the advice of several hundred people online saying “Omg this really works”, and put my hard drive (well wrapped) in the freezer. That was 5pm on Sunday; it is now midday on Monday and on getting my chilly hard drive out of the freezer I have found no change whatsoever.

Is there Anything, absolutely ANYTHING, that can be done??
Or am I just going to have to shell out on data recovery? I know that since my hard-drive is under a year old I can send it back to Simpletech, but they don’t do data recovery which is the vital part of my problem!

Sorry to blab on, guys, but I thought you should have as much detail as possible.

Please please help me :)
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All I can suggest is you run the drive manufacturer's own testing utility on it to confirm that it's it's a failed drive, or not, as the case may be.

For Hitachi drives you need the 'Drive Fitness Test' from here:
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