I have a 1TB SATA hard drive in a third-party USB enclosure hooked up to my computer via USB. The drive has become increasingly unreliable, randomly unmounting and remounting in Windows, making strange noises on occasion, and every once in a while making lots of noise and then unmounting, only fixable by powering down the enclosure, waiting a while, then powering it back up again. I am unsure if the hard drive or the enclosure is to blame. The random unmount/remount could be the enclosure, but the strange sounds are likely related to the hard drive.

Given this uncertainty, I want to figure out which of the two items needs to be replaced. However, I do not know of a way to test each item separately since I do not have an extra SATA-to-USB enclosure to test the hard drive with or an extra SATA hard drive to test the enclosure with. I only have a laptop, so I also don't have an SATA port to hook it up to in my computer.

Does anyone know how to figure out what's to blame so that I don't have to replace both unless it is absolutely necessary.


It can be a number of things:

  1. Faulty cable.
  2. Faulty enclosure.
  3. Faulty Power Unit.
  4. Faulty hard drive.

For 1, Try changing the USB cable.

For 2, 3 and 4, there isn't really much you can do - for 2 and 3, I would first check 4 - Take the hard drive out and test it. If it works, then most likely it is a problem with either 3 or 4 (hard to tell - best off taking whole unit back).

Based on the fact you said you are hearing random sounds, I would point to 4 - the hard drive being faulty.

  • I don't have any way to test the hard drive since I don't have another SATA USB enclosure and I only have a laptop, so no SATA available there. Any suggestions? – Chris Lieb Mar 8 '10 at 4:09
  • Either find a friend who does have a desktop, or possibly buy yourself a Esata laptop adapter and ESATA>Sata adapter then try to connect directly - however, I would be 85% sure that it is a problem with the hard drive as I have seen this a few times before - but no way to be certain. – William Hilsum Mar 8 '10 at 4:27
  • Well, it's not the hard drive since I just replaced it without the problem being resolved. My guess is that it is the enclosure, since even doing a clean install of Win7 didn't fix it. It doesn't appear to be a bug in the firmware since I don't see mention of this problem in product reviews on NewEgg. – Chris Lieb Mar 19 '10 at 14:45

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