How to fix unresponsive Maxtor OneTouch external harddrive?
December 2, 2013 3:10 PM   Subscribe

My Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus external hard drive is no longer recognized by my computer. What should I do? (Besides cry)

I have an external hard drive (Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus) that is no longer recognized by my computer (Windows.) Additional details and steps I have already tried:

When it is plugged in, the drive spins up and the led light on the front flashes 3 times. Then a notice on my computer says that the device is not recognized because of a bad driver. The Seagate website does not provide a solution to this problem.

I performed a system restore, but that did not work.

What do I do now? I'd really like the information on it, but would like to try to fix it myself before I spend money on having someone else look at it.

Yes, I know I need to have a better back up system. That is Phase 2, and on its way.
posted by gagoumot to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
I have pulled the drives out of Maxtor externals and removed files with a USB converter.
posted by Raybun at 3:28 PM on December 2, 2013

First thing, try it on another computer to make sure that it's the drive, and not the computer.
Actually, first thing is to try it on all the other USB ports of your current computer.

If it really is the drive or connector, investigate whether the drive inside has a SATA port- if so, you could conceivably plug that into most desktops without a problem.

If that still doesn't work, then you're probably looking at professional help.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2013

Best answer: Seconding Raybun. My dad had a maxtor somethingorother, I pulled it out of its case, used an adapter, and was able to access all of the files. He ended up getting another enclosure for it and is still using it as far as I'm aware.

I've also had other external drives that "completely died" and the drive was totally fine, it was just the controller board that'd gone bad. I've only had one of many that was actually dead dead.
posted by HermitDog at 3:34 PM on December 2, 2013

thirding everyone - you ought to be able to open the case and pull the actual drive out. I have a pile of these things, both name brand (mostly Western Digital MyBooks) and not so name brand bring-your-own-disk style ones, that have failed over the years. in all cases I'm still using the drives (it's either the cheap controller board or the chintsy power supply that goes out).
posted by mrg at 4:27 PM on December 2, 2013

Best answer: God, screw these things. It would be pointless, but i'm sitting in my office right now and could make a stack and take a photo of a PILE of dead ones of these.

As others have mentioned, i think only one of the actual drives inside the enclosure died. The rest, the controller board inexpliably failed.

When it is plugged in, the drive spins up and the led light on the front flashes 3 times.

Was this the usual behavior when it was first connected when it was still working? A lot of drives blink the light a few times not just during activity, but also when they're in the process of being recognized by the system they were attached to.

If you put your ear up to the drive, does it spin up? is it making any cyclical spinning up sounds or rhythmic slow "" type sounds? If it's just running, i'd honestly bet the controller is fried.

Pull it out of the case and either connect it to another external case you have lying around or purchased, or just put it inside your tower if you're not using a laptop. Do the files show up? If not, IMMEDIATELY power down and don't do anything else.

If it shows up as blank or you only see a fraction of the files you want this. It's fiddly, and a command line utility that only runs on linux or macs. But it's the best tool i've ever used, and has a good wiki and instructions that are followable*.

If that program sees your files in it's "view files" menu(you don't need to run the recovery mode that i've ever seen. Just scan, view, select all, copy) then WOOHOO! The only issue now is that you need another drive to write all the files to so you can format the old drive, run this on it, and if it checks out just assume the shitty controller board or power supply or both cocked up and keep using it. If it doesn't, praise whatever lord you feel like praising that you got ANY of your data off and run this on it and slam dunk it into the garbage can.

For what it's worth on the likelihood of it just being the controller/case, i have a case i bought on newegg on fire sale for about $12 that seemed fine but farted out after like.. 3 months? it, but ugh what a piece of shit. I also have some EXPENSIVE external drives around like a LaCie RAID setup that also pooped out after like, maybe a couple years kept clean in a well ventilated space. I feel like external drives are the least reliable computer peripheral you can possibly buy. Amusingly, i've had better luck with 2.5in "portable" USB powered external drives simply because there's less to fail, but laptop sized drives like that fail an order of magnitude more often than desktop drives it seems, and i have a pile of dead ones of those where the drive itself simply shitted out.

*NOTE: i don't really think say, my mom could work her way through this without getting frustrated or confused. They seemed easy to follow and the program seemed fairly intuitive to me. I'm a network engineer and sysadmin whose been managing my own servers and stuff since i was about... 13. Sometimes it's hard for me to separate what's easy and what just seems simple and easy to me because it's drawing on old experience that's deep in my brain. This SEEMED reasonably easy though.
posted by emptythought at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: nth'ing everyone else... 9/10 times the controller is what fails, not the drive itself (unless you can hear unusual sounds - grinding, excessively clicking, etc). I've had maybe a dozen external drives fail (cheapies and high-end) on me over the years and all but one had NO problems with the hard drive it was removed and hooked up to a computer or put in a new enclosure.

I just searched Google and found this video of how to take apart the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus.
posted by mrrisotto at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I have ordered the adapter HermitDog mentioned. The video of how to disassemble it was really helpful as well.

There were no unusual sounds (clicking, grinding, etc.), and the drive did sound like it was spinning when I first plugged it in. Crossing my fingers that this works.
posted by gagoumot at 7:04 AM on December 3, 2013

Response by poster: Just as an update for everyone. The adapter HermitDog referenced did the trick, and my external hard drive is humming along happily on my desk. Scanning the disk showed no problems with the drive itself, so everyone was correct about the controller.

Thank you so much everyone, this saved me so much money, and was surprisingly simple once I knew what to do.
posted by gagoumot at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2013

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