Question External drives repeatedly disconnecting.

May 31, 2023
I have an Acer desktop (Windows 10) purchased in February 2020. I have 3 external drives - a Phantom hdd (with its own power supply) which I'ver been using since 2020, a PNY ssd which I've ben using for a year, and a Crucial ssd which I've been using for 2 weeks. I use each one with a different cable and port.
My problems began about about 3 weeks ago. The PNY would no longer be recognized by my pc and I would have to unplug and replug it to get it recognized for a few hours. The frequency of disconnects soon increased and it would take up to a dozen tries replugging it until it was recognized. sometimes it would stay recognized for a few hours, sometimes there would be rapid fire disconnects where it would disconnect then be recognized every few seconds. Some files became unreadable and after a few days my desktop would no longer recognize it no matter how many times I replugged it.
I replaced the PNY with Crucial but I had the same problems with it - disconnects and some file became unreadable. I reinstalled Windows 10 but I still have the same problem. Right now the disconnects usually begin 16-24 hours after I restart my pc. If the disconnects happen while both the Crucial and the Phantom are plugged in they'll both disconnect at the same time.

Acer Aspire TC-865-UR15
purchased new February 2020
512GB ssd
Windows 10 Home
no history of heavy use
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Update your post to include full system hardware specs and OS information.

Include PSU: make, model, wattage, condition (original to build, new, refurbished, used). History of heavy use for gaming, video editing, or even bit-mining.

Look in Reliability History/Monitor and Event Viewer for error codes, warnings, or even informational events that occur just before or at the time of the disconnects.

Another thing you can do:

Power down, unplug, open the case.

Clean out dust and debris.

Verify by sight and feel that all cards, connectors, RAM, jumpers, and case connectors are fully and firmly in place.

Use a bright flashlight to inspect for signs of damage: bare conductor showing, pinched or kinked wires, melting, blackened or browned areas, corrosion, cracks, missing or loose screws.

Overall the symptoms suggest (to me anyway) a faltering/failing PSU.


Mar 2, 2023
I'm guessing all three of your external drives are connected to USB3 ports, either Type-A or Type-C. I used to have problems transferring large numbers of files over USB-A until I invested in short, high quality cables of 0.3m (1ft) or less. The longer the cable, the more likely you are to have disconnects.

When using a desktop PC, use the USB ports on the rear panel, not the ports on the front panel. The internal wiring from the motherboard up to the front panel adds another 0.3m to the cable run and increases cable capacitance and crosstalk.

Since the problem started quite recently, check to see if the USB chipset drivers have been changed by Windows Update (if you use Microsoft OS).

Do some research on the motherboard's USB chipset and consider downloading the latest drivers from the chipset manufacturer's web site or from the motherboard manufacturer's web site. Some problems can be fixed by using the latest drivers instead of the original drivers installed by Windows which might be 4 or 5 years old.

If your USB cables are 1m (3ft) long, ditch them and buy some short high quality 0.3m cables. I use Startech cables. My general rule is the thicker the cable, the better the construction. Thin USB cables are often nasty cheap affairs and can lead to trouble.

I use FreeFileSync when transferring files over USB. You can set it to perform a full byte-by-byte comparison of the source directory and destination directory to make sure no corruption has taken place during file copying.


Mar 2, 2023
You could also check to see if your drives and OS are UASP compatible. Enabling UASP speeds up file transfers but might also increase the chance of data corruption.

If you have an ancient USB2 port, give it a try. Transfer rates will be much slower but the reduced speed should increase reliability. It certainly helped when I was using an old laptop with USB2 and USB3 ports to track down the reason for my data corruption problems, before I bought shorter leads.

I'd advise caution using any using any external drive with irreplaceable data on the current system until you track down the fault. Constant USB data interruptions could damage the MFT on the drive making it unreadable. If you have another desktop PC or laptop, try to repeat the problem on a new system.

If it turns out to be a hardware problem (motherboard or PSU) now might be a good time to invest in a new (or second hand) upgrade.