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External Hard Drive extremely slow.

  1. Oct 4, 2011 #1
    Hi, so I'm trying to troubleshoot my gf's external hard drive and I'm looking for some advice or suggestions on things to try.

    Basic specs:

    Age: 1 -2 years
    Capacity: 500gb
    Interface: USB 2.0
    Brand: Western Digital

    She was just transferring files to it and suddenly it became super slow. It's sporadic, sometimes it will transfer files quickly at normal speeds, other times it will take hours to transfer a few hundred MB. The USB cable is loose and tends to get disconnected easily, so this may be a factor.

    What are some things I can do to narrow down what the problem is, and possible solve it? How can I rule out a hardware issue v.s. some kind of file system error? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2011 #2


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    Smaller files transfer MUCH slower. Is it possible the slowdowns occur in areas of numerous small files?
  4. Oct 4, 2011 #3
    No sometimes it will take several minutes just to be able to view the files in one of the folders (mostly pictures), and it used to work many times faster than it is currently - the change was quite abrupt.

    One thing also, is that when I was looking at it a "This drive could be faster" balloon came up and mentioned something about high-speed USB ports, even though all the USB ports on that side of the laptop are USB 2.0. Is it possible the issue is with the USB drivers, and if so how would I go about trouble shooting that?
  5. Oct 4, 2011 #4


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    1]Done a defrag recently?
    2] How much free space is left on the drive?
  6. Oct 4, 2011 #5


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    If the operating system thinks the USB is slow but it is a 2.0 version then I think that's a big clue that there HAS to be an issue with the USB.
  7. Oct 4, 2011 #6


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    Things to try:
    use a better USB cable.
    use a linux livecd to transfer files [to see if it's a Windows problem]
    use another computer [to see if it's the drive or the computer]
  8. Oct 5, 2011 #7


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    That's the first thing to fix, IMO.

    If you have got an obvious potential hardware problem, trying to find and fix software problsm isn't going to change that situation.

    If ii works properly "sometimes", then it's far more likely to be a hardware problem than software in my experience. If the system is fairly old (say 5 years or more) you can do more harm than good updating to the "latest" versions of drivers, since the "latest" version of the corresponding hardware devices is quite likely to have changed as well.

    If a USB device is powered through the USB cable, check if your computer can actually produce enough power. Unplug all your other USB devices to see if that helps. You may need to get a USB hub with its own power supply to fix this, but USB hubs can introduce their own problems if the computer can't reliably detect what devices are connected to the hub.

    A cynic (like me) might say that USB devices don't solve the old "Windows plug and pray" problems, they just mean you have to learn a new set of prayers...
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