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Thread: Computer Question - installing two external USB hard drives

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    Computer Question - installing two external USB hard drives

    Sorry this is not photography related, but if someone can answer, I will have more time for taking pics instead of agonizing over this computer.

    Question: Can I install 2 external USB hard drives on the same computer

    Reason for asking. I tried and the second one shows up in Devices and Printers but does not have a drive letter attached and cannot be accessed in Windows Explorer or elswhere.

    I will weed through Windows and Segate help as long as I know I should be able to do this. But I've wasted a lot of time already and can't seem to find the answer I am looking for. Then it occured to me that perhaps you can't have 2 USB hard drives, maybe I need a USB and a Firewire or something. Don't know, I'm lost, I thought I should be able to just plug it in and go. The first one was plug and play - no problems.

    OS is Windows 7 Ultimate
    Hard drives are Segate Free Agent 500Gb

    Thanks in advance for any help
    Wendy

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Question

    My question is - Why do you need 2 x external hard drives?

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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    My question is - Why do you need 2 x external hard drives?
    Well, one of my other hobbies is music, not playing - listening, and I like good quality as in .wav files. So I want 1 HD for photography and the other for wav files that I record from my old vinyl albums. (or will continue doing when I get a proper sound card and software that is compatible with Windows 7, which should be soon, because I actually see that peripheral mfg are catching up and I'm seeing Windows 7 compatible sound hardware and software finally showing up)

    So, the question remains...

    Wendy
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th October 2012 at 12:06 PM.

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Question

    Should think so; I can't remember technicalities because I don't. Try them one at a time and then together but I've got a printer with card reader, flash drive and an ext drive I made myself for backup all on USB and all work fine.

    I think it should work.

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    Re: Computer Question

    Wendy,
    I can't help you but maybe a search here will turn something up.
    http://search.microsoft.com/results....%20Windows%207

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    Re: Computer Question

    Wendy - I have three external dives connected via USB. They are all "plug-n-play". I can't see what the problem could be if the drives themselves are OK. Two things I can suggest off-hand. First, shut down the computer and unplug both devices. Restart the computer and when up booted up, insert one drive in one USB slot. If that installs, as your original text says it does, then remove this drive and insert the other in the same USB port. If that installs OK then your disks are probably both OK. Now repeat the exercise with the other USB slot. That should test whether the USB port is at fault. If both ports and both drives are OK, then the fault probably lies in the computer's OS confusing two addresses (thinks they're the same). Thus, second thing to try is to restore to earlier settings and try and re-install each drive in turn. (Windows often updates without you knowing it and if you don't fully reboot you can get this sort of problem.)

    If these ideas don't work, I would have to know a great deal more about your system to track down hat is happeing, and in that case your best bet is to go the great god GOOGLE and see if a forum therein can help.

    Cheers

    David

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    Re: Computer Question

    It could be that the computer isn't delivering enough power to the USB slots to power both properly. I have my 160G in one port and the 40G transfer drive in another port. When I plug in my 1T, I have to use the hub with an external power supply, or remove the other externals.

    Pops

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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Wendy,
    I can't help you but maybe a search here will turn something up.
    http://search.microsoft.com/results....%20Windows%207
    Thanks Jim, looks like I'm not alone. I've only seen one post where it looked like the exact same situation though, and I didn't see an answer to his situation. I will try Davids Troubleshooting process below, and then go back to reading if I can't get it going.


    Wendy - I have three external dives connected via USB. They are all "plug-n-play". I can't see what the problem could be if the drives themselves are OK. Two things I can suggest off-hand. First, shut down the computer and unplug both devices. Restart the computer and when up booted up, insert one drive in one USB slot. If that installs, as your original text says it does, then remove this drive and insert the other in the same USB port. If that installs OK then your disks are probably both OK. Now repeat the exercise with the other USB slot. That should test whether the USB port is at fault. If both ports and both drives are OK, then the fault probably lies in the computer's OS confusing two addresses (thinks they're the same). Thus, second thing to try is to restore to earlier settings and try and re-install each drive in turn. (Windows often updates without you knowing it and if you don't fully reboot you can get this sort of problem.)

    If these ideas don't work, I would have to know a great deal more about your system to track down hat is happeing, and in that case your best bet is to go the great god GOOGLE and see if a forum therein can help.

    Cheers

    David
    I will be logging off soon and will give this a try. I thought everything should be plug and play, but the way the system was reacting it was almost like it would only recognize 1 drive at a time.

    I did play around a little bit yesterday with different USB ports. I thought I had it at one point when I tried a particular USB port and I got the message I expected that the Drive had to be formatted before it could be used. So I formatted the drive and..... LOL you guessed it. It formatted E drive which is the 1st external where all my pictures are... were. They are all backed up though so no harm done, except lost time.

    I will go at this again and make sure only one drive at a time is ever plugged in, until I know that everything is working and that the computer knows which drive is which.

    Thanks
    Wendy

    It could be that the computer isn't delivering enough power to the USB slots to power both properly. I have my 160G in one port and the 40G transfer drive in another port. When I plug in my 1T, I have to use the hub with an external power supply, or remove the other externals.

    Pops
    Hmmmm, Thanks Pops, I never thought of that at all. I have a 550 Watt Power Supply, but I guess that really doesn't tell you much without knowing what's in the system. I don't have time to list it all right now, but the fellow in the store who helped put the system together last year said it would be more than enough.
    Something else to think about if nothing else works.

    Thanks
    Wendy

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    Re: Computer Question

    Hi Wendy,

    If they are USB powered, Pops may well have the answer there.

    I have two ext. USB drives, but they're both externally powered, I don't trust the self/USB powered variety (call me an engineer if you will).

    David's fault finding advice is good, it may simply be you have a faulty new drive and this should help identify that.

    I wouldn't recommend moving them between, or sharing, ports, in normal use though; or drive letters for your files within applications will keep changing, making life more complicated than necessary.

    Long term, re-boot with the drives in proper (premanent) ports, or connect via a "USB2" spec. hub - many cheap hubs, or those on keyboards, are only USB1.1; fine for mouse and printer (I don't print much), but USB 1.1 will, I think, slow access to a HDD.

    Cheers,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    It formatted E drive which is the 1st external where all my pictures are... were. They are all backed up though so no harm done, except lost time.
    Yikes, glad I have drives of two different brands, types and sizes - at least that allows you to see this coming.

    Glad you had a back up.

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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Yikes, glad I have drives of two different brands, types and sizes - at least that allows you to see this coming.

    Glad you had a back up.
    Thanks Dave:

    LOL, it's funny now, but at the time I was pretty upset. It really should not have happened. I plugged the drive into a different USB connector. This time it looked like the drive was recognized because it came up with the pop up window saying the drive had to be formatted before it could be used. I thought I finally had it fixed, and clicked OK to format the drive, only to find that it had formatted the original external E drive.

    I remember thinking briefly at the time (before I clicked OK to the format message) that I should disconnect the first external just to make sure, but then thought I was just being silly that there was no way it would format the wrong one. That's why I am slightly amused when I look back. Sometimes I should just follow my instincts, even if I'm a bit paranoid most of the time.

    Well, I am going to sign off now and try again. If it does not work, I will have to find out more about these USB hubs. I know all the connections (8 of them) in the computer are USB 2. There are 2 in the front also, I don't know if they are version 2 or not, I don't use them very often. Just to charge up the blackberry.

    If this is a power issue, is it possible for me to get a powered hub that would allow me to get these devices working, or will I have to get a different external hard drive. This one is brand new, but unfortunately the warranty is probably up. I got it when I got the computer last year, but I did not use it because I was having so much trouble getting all the proper sound hardware and software together, so it's been stored for the last 6 months or so, can't remember exactly when I got the computer.

    I'll check in again later. Bye for now
    Wendy

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    Re: Computer Question

    Hi Wendy,

    What you describe happens quite often if the drive isn't partitioned & formatted (a drive letter can't be given if the drive isn't capable of being accessed).

    The solution is easy - plug all the drives in and then ...

    - Click the start button and then RIGHT click "Computer" then left-click on "Manage"

    - Click on "Disk Management" and maximise the window that appears

    You should now see all the physically attached drives listed ...

    - Right Click on the one you want to work with and choose "change Drive Letter and Paths", and follow you nose from there.

    If that option is grayed out you may have to choose "Create partition" and/or "Format" first.

    PS: I'm assuming that these are externally powered drives ... it's unlikely that more than 1 can be powered by a USB port.

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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Wendy,

    What you describe happens quite often if the drive isn't partitioned & formatted (a drive letter can't be given if the drive isn't capable of being accessed).

    The solution is easy - plug all the drives in and then ...

    - Click the start button and then RIGHT click "Computer" then left-click on "Manage"

    - Click on "Disk Management" and maximise the window that appears

    You should now see all the physically attached drives listed ...

    - Right Click on the one you want to work with and choose "change Drive Letter and Paths", and follow you nose from there.

    If that option is grayed out you may have to choose "Create partition" and/or "Format" first.

    PS: I'm assuming that these are externally powered drives ... it's unlikely that more than 1 can be powered by a USB port.
    Oh Oh!!! Both are the exact same drive (Segate Free Agent 500 Gb, little flat compact things not much bigger than an Iphone) and are not externally powered, as far as I can see anyway, they just run off the USB cord, nothing that plugs into the wall.
    Is this the answer, I need externally powered hard drives?

    David - if you are still here - are all of your 3 USB drives externally powered or just plain USB plug and play.

    I'm going to stay online a bit - hope to get an answer before starting the troubleshooting.

    Thanks everyone
    Wendy

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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Wendy,

    What you describe happens quite often if the drive isn't partitioned & formatted (a drive letter can't be given if the drive isn't capable of being accessed).

    The solution is easy - plug all the drives in and then ...

    - Click the start button and then RIGHT click "Computer" then left-click on "Manage"

    - Click on "Disk Management" and maximise the window that appears

    You should now see all the physically attached drives listed ...

    - Right Click on the one you want to work with and choose "change Drive Letter and Paths", and follow you nose from there.

    If that option is grayed out you may have to choose "Create partition" and/or "Format" first.

    PS: I'm assuming that these are externally powered drives ... it's unlikely that more than 1 can be powered by a USB port.
    Me again. Sorry, I Forgot to thank you for the instructions. Disk Management is where I would have liked to have been yesterday. I ended up in Control Panel Devices and printers, which showed me both hard drives but no drive letters or other info about them. Just the icon for 2 drives, only one of which showed up in Windows Explorer. With your explaination even that makes sense now. Disk Management looks like where i wanted to be. Still might work, unless I really do need one of these drives to be externally powered. I'm certainly farther ahead now than I was yesterday.

    Another silly question: Would a docking cradle be considered an external power source. There is one available. It does not have a power cord to the wall but requires 2 USB connections. The Drive fits into the dock and then there is a dual USB connection from the dock to two of the computer connectors. The users manual does not say much except that the optional dock (pictured and iconized) is not included.

    Thanks everyone

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    Re: Computer Question

    Short answer Wendy is "try it and see". Some 2.5" drives have a hole for external power to be applied ... some have a special cable that plugs into 2 USB ports (to get more power) ... some work off just 1 USB port. If you can see the 2 drives ANYWHERE within windows then they're probably both spinning OK (you should be able to hear them if you put them to your ear), in which case what I described above should work.

    Personally I don't normally use 2.5 inch ("laptop") drives because they're so slow (great for portability, but too slow for regular use) - the bigger 3.5" models are the same drives as are used in PCs, and are usually about 4 times faster.

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    Re: Computer Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Short answer Wendy is "try it and see". Some 2.5" drives have a hole for external power to be applied ... some have a special cable that plugs into 2 USB ports (to get more power) ... some work off just 1 USB port. If you can see the 2 drives ANYWHERE within windows then they're probably both spinning OK (you should be able to hear them if you put them to your ear), in which case what I described above should work.

    Personally I don't normally use 2.5 inch ("laptop") drives because they're so slow (great for portability, but too slow for regular use) - the bigger 3.5" models are the same drives as are used in PCs, and are usually about 4 times faster.
    Thanks Colin: I have all the instructions from everyone printed out and I'm logging off now to try everything out. As for the drives, they don't seem too slow right now, but the photo one is not even a quarter full. I suppose it is going to slow down as it starts to fill up. I'll have to keep that in mind if I end up needing to get another one.

    Later folks, duty calls
    Wendy
    Last edited by ScoutR; 4th July 2010 at 09:57 PM. Reason: typos

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    Thank you everyone

    Back in business for now anyway, but I am very optimistic that this is permanently fixed. Just in case anyone else finds themselves in the same dilemma now or in the future. Here's what worked.

    After determining per Davids instructions that both drives and USB slots were good, I followed Colin's instructions and got myself to the Disk Management Screen shown below.

    Computer Question - installing two external USB hard drives

    Mouseover on the exclamation point of Disk 2 gave me a tool tip that "Administrator had set this drive to be Offline.
    Right clicking in the Disk 2 box gave me the Online option. Clicking that brought the drive online and it appears to be working fine now.

    I did find that the drives were rearranged when I went to save the screen snippet shown above, and managed to get that sorted out with Colin's instructions to change the drive letters. I assume the Drive letters must be assigned according to the order of the USB ports or something. My original drive was still plugged into the same port (#7), but the new one is in port #5 so it ended up showing as Drive E. This would have been way to confusing for me because my photos have been on drive E for nearly a year and I'm sure I would have mixed everything up.

    Anyway, thanks to everyone here, it seems to be sorted out, and I can guarantee, I would not have figured it out myself with any amount of googling.

    I love this forum. Thank you Everyone xxooxxooxxoo
    Wendy

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    Re: Thank you everyone

    No worries Wendy - glad we could help!

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