I have two Western Digital 1TB external USB 2.0 hard drives. These drives are connected to a server running Windows XP. I stream video files from both drives on this server to a variety of settop boxes, including two WD TV Live units and one Apple TV. Occasionally the video I'm streaming will pause for some period of time, between 30 seconds and two minutes. Once this period expires, the video hurriedly catches up to its previous status, forcing me to rewind. This occurs with video streamed from either drive, with video streamed to any of the three settop boxes, regardless of whether the streaming occurs over 802.11n wireless or over gigabit wired ethernet. The only common factors are the server itself and the model of hard drive.
While the video is frozen, I can VNC into the server successfully, and execute most operations normally. However, while the video is frozen, I am unable to access the data on the drive being read. Any attempt to access the drive results in Windows Explorer not responding. When it begins to respond again, the video unfreezes, indicating a common cause.
I suspect the problem lies in my server. Does anyone have any suggestions as to why it would be behaving in this fashion? I have difficulty imagining a hardware problem that would lead to such behavior. Is there some software setting or driver which might prove relevant?