Question Custom Built Windows PC consistently has failed external hard drives ?

Aug 16, 2022
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I built a PC for my video editing business last year. The thing runs great, plays back footage smoothly, and exports super quickly, but it has no reliability when it comes to my external hard drives.

I've had hard drives fail, solid state drives fail. I've had drives that I received from clients fail, as well as drives that I formatted on this computer itself fail. The failed drives have been all sorts of formats: types I've accessed using MacDrive (like HFS and HFS+), exFAT, NTFS, you name it. The failures don't seem to be happening with drives plugged into any one port but all of them-- be it USB 3.0, 3.1, or USB C ports.

Sometimes prior to the drive failing, the playback of footage becomes choppy or fails to play. One of the other things I've noticed sometimes when a drive is about to fail is when I go to disconnect it I get the "unable to mount" message repeatedly, despite no program that I know accessing the drive. So I've been forced to shut down the computer, disconnect the drive, and restart the computer. The next time I plug the drive in-- corrupted, can't be read.

Occasionally when this happens, when I look in Disk Management, the "failed" drive will have its Status listed as "Healthy" and when I go to repair it, the Disk Management says no problems found. But if I try to click on the drive, it still can't be read.

Sometimes these drives in Disk Management are listed as being "100% Free Space," other times, these failed drives show that a percentage of the drive still has data.

I now have one of these drives that can't be read on my Windows machine. When I plug it into my Macbook M1 Max, it reads it just fine, but of course I can't write to it.

I'm getting desperate here because clients are becoming iffy working with me on this machine now. Any idea what could possibly be happening? I've never experienced this with any other computer.
SPECS:
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core
Memory: 64 GB RAM
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
If you need any other info let me know!
 
One of the other things I've noticed sometimes when a drive is about to fail is when I go to disconnect it I get the "unable to mount" message repeatedly, despite no program that I know accessing the drive. So I've been forced to shut down the computer, disconnect the drive, and restart the computer. The next time I plug the drive in-- corrupted, can't be read.
i've seen similar situations many, many times.
any external drive always has to be properly "ejected" from the OS before being disconnected.
if the OS cannot properly perform the procedure tables on the drive can be corrupted and leads to corrupted data.

i've found many times the data can be recovered through 3d party software but others even after recovery processes completed there would still be up to TBs of corrupted data.

it seems Microsoft would have found a better way to prevent this when using Windows but i've still seen it multiple times on 10 & 11.

if Windows is just constantly failing it's eject task i would try a fresh install of the OS.
 
Reactions: Grobe and Karadjgne

dwd999

Honorable
I built a PC for my video editing business last year. The thing runs great, plays back footage smoothly, and exports super quickly, but it has no reliability when it comes to my external hard drives.

I've had hard drives fail, solid state drives fail. I've had drives that I received from clients fail, as well as drives that I formatted on this computer itself fail. The failed drives have been all sorts of formats: types I've accessed using MacDrive (like HFS and HFS+), exFAT, NTFS, you name it. The failures don't seem to be happening with drives plugged into any one port but all of them-- be it USB 3.0, 3.1, or USB C ports.

Sometimes prior to the drive failing, the playback of footage becomes choppy or fails to play. One of the other things I've noticed sometimes when a drive is about to fail is when I go to disconnect it I get the "unable to mount" message repeatedly, despite no program that I know accessing the drive. So I've been forced to shut down the computer, disconnect the drive, and restart the computer. The next time I plug the drive in-- corrupted, can't be read.

Occasionally when this happens, when I look in Disk Management, the "failed" drive will have its Status listed as "Healthy" and when I go to repair it, the Disk Management says no problems found. But if I try to click on the drive, it still can't be read.

Sometimes these drives in Disk Management are listed as being "100% Free Space," other times, these failed drives show that a percentage of the drive still has data.

I now have one of these drives that can't be read on my Windows machine. When I plug it into my Macbook M1 Max, it reads it just fine, but of course I can't write to it.

I'm getting desperate here because clients are becoming iffy working with me on this machine now. Any idea what could possibly be happening? I've never experienced this with any other computer.
SPECS:
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core
Memory: 64 GB RAM
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
If you need any other info let me know!
Random thoughts: first are you sure that your computer's motherboard can supply enough power to the usb ports to handle all these drives? Perhaps an external usb hub with its own power supply might help. Second, just in case, did you go through the Device Manager and check the Power Management tab setting for every usb device. Sometimes windows in is infinite wisdom choses to enable the "Allow the computer to turn of this device" power management option which could result in usb drives disconnecting from windows whenever it thinks they're been idle for too long. You could also check the Power Options the make sure the USB Selective Suspend option is Disabled.
 
Reactions: Grobe

BFG-9000

Distinguished
i've seen similar situations many, many times.
any external drive always has to be properly "ejected" from the OS before being disconnected.
if the OS cannot properly perform the procedure tables on the drive can be corrupted and leads to corrupted data.
This can also happen if the "Fast Startup" power option is enabled (it is by default) if hibernation occurs while there are outstanding transactions waiting to be written to disk, that instead get cached to the hibernation file--which gets written back to RAM first thing before the disk shows up (perhaps the USB drivers need to be reloaded?), so it's treated as missing and the transactions get discarded rather than Windows trying again when the disk finally appears.

The choppy stuttering though--I did have some trouble with both WD and Seagate externals doing this then dropping out, and found they were insanely hot when this happened. Putting a case fan atop them or a laptop cooler under to draw air through their vents prevented this from ever happening again.
 
if hibernation occurs while there are outstanding transactions waiting to be written to disk, that instead get cached to the hibernation file--which gets written back to RAM first thing before the disk shows up (perhaps the USB drivers need to be reloaded?), so it's treated as missing and the transactions get discarded
that would mean only the new data being written would be missing or corrupt, not all previously existing data.
most data transfers don't require all data on a disk to be relocated and rearranged.
 
Aug 16, 2022
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10
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Random thoughts: first are you sure that your computer's motherboard can supply enough power to the usb ports to handle all these drives? Perhaps an external usb hub with its own power supply might help. Second, just in case, did you go through the Device Manager and check the Power Management tab setting for every usb device. Sometimes windows in is infinite wisdom choses to enable the "Allow the computer to turn of this device" power management option which could result in usb drives disconnecting from windows whenever it thinks they're been idle for too long. You could also check the Power Options the make sure the USB Selective Suspend option is Disabled.
How can I check if the computer's motherboard is supplying enough power at all times?

I've now gone into the Device Manager and went into "Universal Serial Bus Controllers." Inside of it, these were listed:

AMD USB 3.10 eXtensible Host Controller - 1.10 (Microsoft)
AMD USB 3.10 eXtensible Host Controller - 1.10 (Microsoft)
AMD USB 3.10 eXtensible Host Controller - 1.10 (Microsoft)
USB Composite Device
USB Composite Device
USB Composite Device
USB Root Hub (USB 3.0)
USB Root Hub (USB 3.0)
USB Root Hub (USB 3.0)

The only ones that had "Power Management" tabs were the USB Root Hub (USB 3.0). I disabled "Allow the computer to turn off this device."

What's the difference between the three of them? Should I only be using certain ones of these controllers for the hard drives?
 
Aug 16, 2022
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10
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Also, another message I consistently get on this computer, which I never have before is a pop up warning when plugging in drives:

This file does not have an app associated with it for performing this action. Please install an app or, if one is already installed, create an association in the Defaults Apps Settings page.
 

dwd999

Honorable
Also, another message I consistently get on this computer, which I never have before is a pop up warning when plugging in drives:

This file does not have an app associated with it for performing this action. Please install an app or, if one is already installed, create an association in the Defaults Apps Settings page.
You could check your Settings, Devices, Autoplay setting to see what its doing when it encounters an unknown file on a plugged in device. I personally set this to Take No Action. Or you could use the Open Folder to View Files in File Explorer option.
 

dwd999

Honorable
How can I check if the computer's motherboard is supplying enough power at all times?

I've now gone into the Device Manager and went into "Universal Serial Bus Controllers." Inside of it, these were listed:

AMD USB 3.10 eXtensible Host Controller - 1.10 (Microsoft)
AMD USB 3.10 eXtensible Host Controller - 1.10 (Microsoft)
AMD USB 3.10 eXtensible Host Controller - 1.10 (Microsoft)
USB Composite Device
USB Composite Device
USB Composite Device
USB Root Hub (USB 3.0)
USB Root Hub (USB 3.0)
USB Root Hub (USB 3.0)

The only ones that had "Power Management" tabs were the USB Root Hub (USB 3.0). I disabled "Allow the computer to turn off this device."

What's the difference between the three of them? Should I only be using certain ones of these controllers for the hard drives?
I don't know what the difference between them is; its dependent on the chipset that controls usb ports on your motherboard; perhaps the manufacturer can help you. The same goes for available wattage from the usb ports; if its not listed in your motherboards specs you'll have to ask the manufacturer. Hopefully the disabling of the power management option will at least prevent connected drives from being disconnected just because windows is bored.
 
How can I check if the computer's motherboard is supplying enough power at all times?
There is two ways. Either by physically measuring the +5V voltage using a multimeter, but you need to find a spot close to usb port and also know for sure it is the same source as feeding that usb port, so it may be tricky. Or use a software like OCCT that is capable of logging 5V on motherboard. Both must be performed while external hdd is active.

The only down side using software monitoring of voltage is that USB can potentially be feeded from a different 5V source, and you may get a mis-reading.
 

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