Monday, April 20, 2009

LaCie external harddrive clicks and ticks, but does not work

A while ago I bought this LaCie 500Gb external hard drive and I was rather satisfied with it. With the occasion of the horrible Easter holidays I finally turned off my computer (after weeks of it working continuously). So imagine my dismay when I came back home, turned the LaCie on, then the computer and all I had to show for it was an USB mass storage controller error in the Hardware Manager.

After trying a few things (and noticing that the hard drive would not actually turn on, instead a tick-tock sound was heard from inside) I decided to open up the drive box, proudly written on it "Designed by F. A. Porsche". Well, fuck you, Porsche! I had to almost destroy the box to open it, then the insides had so many "one installation, no after service" components that I felt like walking on broken glass.

Anyway, inside the LaCie there is a small USB controller and an SATA Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 hard drive. I installed the hard drive as an internal drive and... nothing! Windows XP blue screen 0x0000007B. The computer wouldn't even recognize the drive in the boot up screen.

Well, after looking for drivers and stuff like that, I was resolved that the hard drive was defective and all my music, movies and books were lost. But shutting the computer down I noticed that the drive was actually spinning in its internal setup configuration. So, desperately, I tried to use the power from the internal computer power source and the rest of the drive in its USB setup... and IT WORKED!

Now I am going to buy another drive and get all data from this one, but still, if you are desperate that your USB hard drive is lost, try to open it up and power the internal drive with a normal computer power chord.

As for why the internal drive did not work directly on the computer? I have almost no idea. The Seagate site says clearly that SATA drives do not require drivers, but the various SATA controllers do! Since I already have a SATA internal drive, I think that that is not the issue. Rather, the people at LaCie used another drive firmware! The Seagate drive also provides with some downloadable firmware so it is clearly possible. As a completely desperate option to recover your lost data, I guess trying to rewrite the hard drive firmware could work, but I don't recommend it and I wonder how it is possible, considering it wouldn't allow me to boot Windows.

I hope this helps somebody. And Happy Easter everybody!

Update September 2012: after three years and a half, the drive (powered by both USB and internal computer power) started to develop bad sectors. It still works, mind you, I just removed it because I didn't need it as much. Thus ends the saga of the mutant harddrive in the computer that never sleeps and never dies [creepy music in the background] :)


milo said...

Yep. LaCie drives are junk!!!! I've had the same issues and lost so much data. I would never buy another piece of LaCie trash again.