I have a problem with backing up files to my external harddrive (on Win XP).

When I drag a large folder (a few gigs) to the harddrive, it starts copying, but after a while (5 minutes), the harddrive “dissapears” – it no longer shows up in my list of drives, and the copy gives an error. I have to then unplug the harddrive and plug it in again to make it show up again in my list of drives.

I have this problem with 2 computers, and with 2 external harddrives, so I don’t think it’s a problem with either the computer or the drive. Small folders are ok, it’s just the larger folders that show this problem.

Is it impossible to back up large folders by just dragging them? Should I use a backup program? If so, which one is good (and cheap or free)? PC Magazine recommends the free SynchBack so I’m trying that out.

Later: damn! I tried but the same problem happened, after copying for 5 minutes, the outside drive just ‘dissapeared” from my computer, and the copy program reports an error. So it’s not just with drag and drop, it’s any copying to those drives (remember I have 2) that makes them “dissapear’ from windows. Any ideas?

Later: I ran Windows update and all, tried again, still the same problem.

Later: This article seems to describe the problem, in short: Windows XP can have problems with harddrives larger than 138Gigs, upgrade to Service Pack 2 (something I’ve been holding off on) to fix it.

Later: I successfully installed Service Pack 2, after it crashed on me once. I tried again, STILL the same problem. Arg.

Later: Alright, I am downloading more updates from the Windows Update site. The words “critical update”, “strongly recommend” and “security” were plastered all over the page so I figured I’d better say yes.

Later: I installed all latest Windows updates, doublechecked again (no updates), restarted, tried again, and fuck: still the same problem.

I am running out of ideas here…

0 thoughts on “

  1. I assume the obvious, but have you got updated drivers? Even some plug’n’pray devices need updates – sometimes on the firmware side of things – to tick. What you’ve got sounds like a bug in some software, like a ping that gets normally sent inbetween major accesses, but since the folder is huge, the ping isn’t sent, and the ‘carrier’ is dropped. Just a guess.

  2. I’ve had the same problem dragging a 9GB folder from WinXP to a GNU/Linux box (Gentoo + Samba 3.05), both on same LAN. Several times I got the problem you described. I solved the problem by going to the linux box and mounting the XP share, then using ‘cp -r’ to copy the files.

    Maybe it would have worked better from WinXP command line, but I didn’t try.

  3. Do you have more than one external hard drive daisy-chained in this setup? If so, have you tried going one drive at a time?

    (Unhelpful aside: this sort of thing doesn’t seem to happen on OS X. Macs just work; I’ve become much more productive since I’ve stopped having to fix my own IT problems. When folks compare Macs and PCs cost-wise, you rarely read about the savings that result from these efficiency gains.)

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