was wondering if anyone can help me with this bizarre problem I'm experiencing: I've replaced the DVD drive in my Thinkpad T400 with the Lenovo internal SATA II enclosure. In it, I placed a 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue (5400 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s transfer rate, 8MB buffer). I installed my OS (7 Ultimate 64bit) on my C: SSD and put all my other files on that D: drive. It has worked well for almost a year and a half and I'm actually using it now.

A couple of months ago I started experiencing the following phenomenon: I fly a lot. Once in a while, my hard disk just disappears from the OS, as if the enclosure was yanked out of the laptop. I mean, I actually don't feel it, unless I'm accessing a file or a program on D: at the time, that just quit. Many times, the file is in memory, and I only notice the disk is gone when trying to save it.

This happens only during flights (never happened to me on the ground), usually in the first hour or so (still ascending?). Once I notice the problem, all I need to do is pull out the enclosure and push it back in (can't eject it from the OS as it's no longer there).

I have no idea what's causing this - the enclosure sits well within the laptop, and as mentioned, this never happened under regular circumstances. Is this the hard drive, impacted by changes in altitude? Does the air quality impact the enclosure? Which part do I need to replace to ensure this won't happen again, the enclosure, the hard disk, or the laptop?

I wondered about it for quite some time, but this week, I actually lost an important chunk of work - so any assistance will be deeply appreciated.

  • The plane is pressurised for a certain height above sea level. I may be mistaken, but I think it's 5000 feet (or just under 2km). I doubt the pressure is the problem though, and would guess it might be related to the ThinkPad's built-in shock protection. The force of the take-off might be triggering the shock protection. – user3463 Jun 30 '10 at 6:03
  • I disconnected the shock protection a year ago, after buying the SSD (no moving parts), so I don't think that's it. I do now copy critical files to my SSD once in a while, just in case... – Traveling Tech Guy Jul 1 '10 at 4:11
  • Are you over the Bermuda Triangle when it does this.... :- ) – Moab Jul 3 '10 at 0:30

I used to have a similar problem with my PowerBook: slight turbulence would activate the shock protection feature, and freeze the disk. All this resulted in in my experience was strange, inadvertent beach-balling, but it sounds like that could be your problem as well.

I never found a solution.

My suggestion to you: Copy your mission-critical files to a working area on your SSD. This has the added bonus of reducing battery use as well.

  • Thanks for the suggestion - see my reply to the comment above. – Traveling Tech Guy Jul 1 '10 at 4:12

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