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External Hard Drives versus XP-Pro_SP2

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WinXP-Pro_SP2, Sony VAIO FX270 laptop, 80gb internal hard drive, 256mb RAM, fresh install (formated and partitioned drive w/fat32 fdisk and kept FAT32 file system)

External hard drives: 120gb Maxtor in an IEE1394 enclosure; 1gb PCMCIA IBM Micro-Drive, 80gb Seagate in an IEE1394 enclosure.

Issue: After laboriously installing the operating system, all the XP driver updates for the FX270, I plugged in the external drives to the Firewire ports and in the PCMCIA slot. No problems. All drives reconized, data transfers from internal to external had no problems. Shut down the system. Restarted the system.

Big blue screen!

Says something to the effect of file integrity no good, went through some sort of windows-based "fix it stuff", machine started up nicely, and everything was GONE from all the external drives. GONE GONE GONE ! 14,000 mp3's just to name a few vicitms.

So, I reformated the drives on a Win98SE machine in FAT32 (why won't XP allow a FAT32 format?), reloaded all the data from a backup drive (from another Win98SE machine), did the complete Norton Disc Doctor file and surface scan, and started the FX270 again. Plugged the drives in. Again, no problem. Turned the machine off. UNPLUGGED/EJECTED all the external drives. Started the machine. Plugged in the externals. No problems again. Turned the machine off. Restarted the machine with the externals still plugged/inserted. BAM ! Wiped everything out again.

Obviously, I will NEVER EVER EVER have any external devices attached to the WinXP Pro machine during boot-up however I would like to know why WinXP is so violently opposed to my external drives. Can anyone offer any clues or advice?
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