To elaborate, my external hard drive suddenly stopped working after working fine for a very long time, I only noticed when I tried to play music from it and it was no longer showing as a drive on my computer.

I checked Device Management from which it had disappeared, and it wasn't showing up in Disk Management either (from Start > My Computer > Manage). SeaTools for Windows didn't show it either.

After a reboot not proving effective, I feared the drive might be broken, and quick Googling suggested I should connect it to a different machine to test that theory. It showed up fine on the different machine, so the next logical step is concluding the USB port itself had suddenly broken down. However, I had already swapped out the external drive with another device on another port, and the other device functioned fine while the external drive still did not.

Finally, I took my keyboard out of a USB 3.0 port and put my external drive in that instead, which surprisingly worked. The keyboard is functioning fine as well, so here I am left without a clue as to how the drive stopped working in the first place. Without this knowledge, I'm not sure how much I should prioritize backing up data form this drive as it would necessitate purchasing another equally-sized drive, which is costly.

The drive itself receives external power from AC, so paired with the knowledge the drive had worked for a year or two already it's unlikely the USB port wasn't providing enough power.

Any help is much appreciated!

Edit: The actual question is if anyone knows what could have happened for my drive to stop showing up, when the USB port and drive both turned out to be fine, taking into account the diagnosis above.

  • It's not clear what the question is – Ramhound Oct 11 '14 at 23:32
  • I'm sorry, I read over it but missed that I hadn't formulated it clearly. I've edited in a clear question now. – lvank Oct 11 '14 at 23:38

Well, the ports are functional, and it seems that there was something on the USB drivers association, if you connect a new device to the USB, or using a USB hub, then this problem sometimes happens, since the USB will recognize the connected device and associate it to the current port, this means each port will be associated with a different device, and if you swipe the devices, they will be recognized and associated again, without overwriting the old association! which will cause some USB reorganization problem over the time, especially if you connect a new device and tried to reconnect the old one back to the same port.Thus, you need to reinstall the USB drivers again so any conflicts that you have currently will be gone with the new one, and this will prevent this from happening.

Follow the steps to recreate the USB drivers:

  1. Unplug all connected USB devices.
  2. Go to Device Manager
  3. on the Device Manager, go to Universal Serial Bus controllers
  4. Uninstall all USB drivers under the Universal Serial Bus controllers
  5. To uninstall, Find:
    • Generic USB Hub
    • Renesas Electronics USB 2.0
    • Renesas Electronics USB 3.0
    • USB Composite Device

Just Right-Click, and choose "Uninstall", and then Click OK on the Uninstall dialog.

P.S: DO NOT CHECK ON Delete the driver software for this device.

  1. Now, Click on Scan for hardware changes, and wait until the system finishes from installing the USB drivers again.

  2. After that, re-plug the devices again, wait for Windows to recognize them and install their drivers.

This will delete the old USB drivers that have been used for a long time and create a fresh one.

Remember, whenever you use a USB port, always plug the device to the same port that you plugged in the first time, So, if you have external drives, plug them and don't use their ports on any other device, this way you'll make sure their ports will be only associated with them only, to avoid any conflicts in the future.

  • I will keep this in mind the next time I have odd issues with USB devices that aren't results of broken devices or ports. Thanks! – lvank Oct 13 '14 at 21:14

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