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I use USB/IDE/SATA converters a lot and on the two that I have now, I sometimes get errors copying files to drives.

It only happens when I'm copying big files to the drive (big can mean as little as 100MB, I think it happens more often with bigger files - 300MB or more), and basically the copy will fail and I'll get one or more error messages about "Delayed write failed."

But if I disconnect the drive and re-connect it, I'll usually be able to continue. (The file that was being copied will be corrupt, but otherwise the drive is fine.)

I just noticed a new type of flakiness: the data transfer rate can vary widely. I copied one set of files (5x300MB files) and it took 10+minutes, then I copied another set (approx. the same sizes) and it took less than a minute.

I haven't done systematic testing, the other things I'm doing on my laptop at the same time might have some impact, and I haven't cross-checked the two adapters I have and the 3 hard drives I'm working with to see if there's a pattern. I'm more wondering if anyone else has seen anything like this.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, many types of converters can be very flakey. The cheap ones can almost guarantee problems eventually. Make sure you have a clean solid connection with the drive connected. If you are using the USB ones, that is a shared bus on the computer. USB can be quick one day and slow the next depending on what’s going on.

I find for short transfers, those adapters work fine, but if I am going to copy a whole hard drive, I would much rather use an external enclosure for the hard drive or connect it natively up to the computer (SATA drives have made this simple now). Data corruption can be very frustrating.

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I'm working with a laptop, so "natively" is a problem for multiple 3.5" drives :) – Ward Dec 2 '09 at 0:00
@Ward: Good point. If you do this activity often, it might be worth your time to invest in some decent external hard drive enclosures (many of them support multiple drives too) instead of the all in one usb adapters if you continue to have issues. – Troggy Dec 2 '09 at 15:39

I have only come across this when the hard drive itself was faulty - and I have noticed in some cheaper enclosures/adapters, this can be sped up as they seem to keep the drive powered at 100% even when not used.

If I was you, you really need to use other hard drives in it to test if it is the adapter. Failing that, go to the command prompt (If Windows) and type chkdsk /F to run a scan on the drive.

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every piece of equipment can 'be flaky' (remember Gremlins? great movie :).

but it is too early for a final verdict, run more tests/comparisons with different drives and if possible on different computers.

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This is sort-of an update, but I didn't think it made sense to edit the question to add it: one drive that I've been using a lot lately that was flaky at the time I asked the question has been fine lately. I ran checkdisk on it after one flaky episode and had no errors, but since then I've had no problems with that particular drive. I'm not sure what it means, however...

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