My external hard drive has been acting very strangely for the past few days, and I can't figure out what the problem is. The drive disappears intermittently from my system, then reappears as an "unformatted" drive, which is inaccessible via My Computer and recovery tools. If I unplug the drive's cable then plug it back in, Windows finds the drive and it becomes accessible again (well, most of the time). Occasionally when this problem occurs, an icon appears in the system tray. It's a yellow triangle with a black exclamation mark on it. If I click it with either mouse button, it disappears and the drive goes through its little "unformatted state" routine, so I can't figure out what the icon signifies. I've also tried hovering my mouse over the icon to see if any info would pop up, but it didn't.
I've had the drive since July 2007, and I've never had any problems until now. I upgraded my system in November of 2007, and again the drive worked fine until now. I'm stumped.
I'm using Windows XP Pro SP2, with all of the latest updates. I've run several scans with disc error checkers, including Windows' own, and they showed nothing. I've tried running a surface scan but the drive won't remain "seen" by Windows for long enough for the scan to even get half way (the drive is 500GB). I even tried uninstalling the USB entries in the Device Manager then rebooting, letting Windows find the device(s) and then reinstalling, to no avail.
The drive itself is a Western Digital Elements 500GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive [WD5000AAKS]. I tried using the diagnostic tools from Western Digital's own website, but the same problem occurs, i.e. the drive changes state before the "deeper" scans can complete; the quick scans show no problems. I used a partition recovery tool to scan the drive and see if there were any problems in that department, but there were none (as far as I could tell).
I tried using a different USB cable, and plugging the drive into the front USB panel as opposed to the usual back one, but it made no difference.
My PSU is pretty beefy, so I'm positive that it's not a case of there not being enough juice to run the USB devices. Besides, the problem only started a few days ago, and I've been running the drive since July of last year without any issues (my old system had much less power than my upgraded one).
The information on my drive is accessible, so I could probably back it all up piece by piece, but in the meantime - any ideas? haha
Thanks for reading!