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Have Dog - Will Travel
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Discussion Starter #1
Or: What we have here son, is a failure to communicate

This morning I decided to take a look at my back-up drive, a small USB connected 1TB Seagate drive I bought at Costco a couple years ago. It has served faithfully for those several years and a very handy Seagate auto back-up utility has been backing up my updates weekly on Sunday nights. I discovered it was no longer an acknowledged connection in File Manager, so I opened the utility and discovered my weekly back ups have been failing due to lack of connection for the past many weeks. Of course the little black box offers no diagnostic lights, nor any other indication it is alive. I verified power and usb connections were tight and fully seated.

Then, I recalled that my weather station software utility stopped working a couple months ago. And, it too uses a USB connection. I presumed the utility was undermined by one or another Win 10 updates.

Now, I am wondering if it might be a subset of the USB ports on the back of my Dell Desktop have failed. Many still work (keyboard, mouse, printer), so it isn't a wholesale USB failure. Device manager does not report any problems with USB, and confirms up-to-date drivers. But, Disk Management does not report the external drive.

Has anyone heard of failures of some, but not all USB ports on a desk top? Do the ports on the back of the desktop all physically connect through the same interface, or are there a couple of them, so that one subset of ports might fail?
Anyone aware of any decent USB diagnostic utility?

Thanks for any advice
 

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Kish JD 318/420/430
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USB ports due fail, some times in clusters or 2 or 4 depending on the architecture of the board. I have couple of MACs that have dead USB ports on. I have a Dell that I've add a USB 6 port to a port for the mouse and keyboard to function, the rest are dead.
 

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Super Moderator
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27,443 Posts
Yep, USB's will fail, sometimes from unknown reasons, updates that aren't good (those may come back after next update) and some due to bad connections. I recommend you try a different USB cable if it will change out, I've seen USB cables just start failing too. Move it to different USB ports to see if one will work.
 

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Registered
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Yes you can have individual / multiple USB Ports fail while others still work as RussKish mentioned depends on the architecture; also something external could have caused ports failure (surge, etc).

Did you try rebooting the drive by removing power for a minute or two & plugging it back in? You could also do a quick swap of the printer & the drive & see what happens. If the Drive comes up & the Printer doesn't the probably the USB Port. If the printer comes up & the drive doesn't, it's most likely a different issue being you know the Printer worked in that port.
 

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Have Dog - Will Travel
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5,658 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys.

@rudedawg I have run the Dell Diagnostics, and found nothing.

It will take a rainy day and a rearrangement of the cabinet the pc and monitor are in to do some shotgunning on the various ( I think there are 6 USB ports back there). But, I'm on it.
 

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Minding my P's & Q's
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Kudos for checking on the back up. Too many set it up and forget it assuming it will just keep working.
I did have a external USB attach disk fail like that one time. No alerts, no messages. Unplugged the cable, unplugged the power supply to the disk.
Checked USB port with a USB thumb drive with some work documents on it. It was working.
Then according to original instruction sheet, applied power to the drive. Then plugged the USB cable back in.
It came up and ran like it should. Never knew what made it lose connection. Never happened again.
 

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Kioti SCUT
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353 Posts
As JP suggested, take a good USB thumb drive with some docs or photos on it. Then plug the thumb drive into the suspect ports. If you can read the thumb drive files, then the ports are good and the problem is in the external hard drive or cable. If not, then the problem is in the ports. Cal
 

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Registered
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One of the other things you could do is forgo the backup disc entirely and go to a thumb drive. Prices have come down immensely. I just got a 2 TB USB 2.0 thumb drive for $20 off amazon.
 

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Kish JD 318/420/430
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3,565 Posts
I have 2 usb backup hard drives running since the early 2000's, I have a dozen usb flasg drives from 512M to 256G that are still in use from the late 1990 to a couple of years old. I'm more in line with that some update screwed up the usb ports on the computer be it (MAC, MS Windows/V). I 've actually had to go back on versions and write a nasty letter on company's letter head paper, to get that their latest broke what was working which was just as bad as a security flaw or hole they were attempting to fix.
 

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Super Moderator
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Was told backup and thumb drives were only good for a few years use.
Both are good for a long time. Nothing to break on a thumb drive and even the external USB hard drives should last for quite a while if it is a quality product, mine is probably 10 years old now.
 

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Premium Member
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Both are good for a long time. Nothing to break on a thumb drive and even the external USB hard drives should last for quite a while if it is a quality product, mine is probably 10 years old now.
Thumb drives wear out due to use, particularly write cycles. The cells have a limited number of times they can change state before they fail.
 

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Premium Member
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Had a thumb drive fail a few years ago. They maybe good for transportation of data but not reliable for storage. Lost 3 years of business records on one. Yes I know you need to backup some where so that doesnt happen.
 

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Have Dog - Will Travel
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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the advice. It's single digits here today, so the splitting is on hold. I rearranged enough of my computer cabinet to accomplish the following:

  1. the physical USB ports on the back of the Dell have both passed the thumb drive test
  2. the cable to the weather station monitor has also been verified by loading files from my GoPro
  3. The power to the external drive appears to be fine based on my simple meter check
  4. the data cable to the external drive is unique, at least among my tangle mess of spare cables, so I have not verified it (see plug below)
2446111
 

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The Admin from... Nowhere!
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That’s a USB 3 cable, Jere, I’ve got a fair number of those that came with the $15 drive cases I’ve bought in the past. I’ve also had at least one of them go flakey on me. I’d send you one of my spares for testing, but postage from here would be crazy.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Have Dog - Will Travel
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5,658 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
That’s a USB 3 cable, Jere, I’ve got a fair number of those that came with the $15 drive cases I’ve bought in the past. I’ve also had at least one of them go flakey on me. I’d send you one of my spares for testing, but postage from here would be crazy.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks for the offer. I should be able to pick one of these cables up at a Best Buy or a Staples. But, the fact of the matter is a new drive is in the $50 range for 2TB and less than $100 for an 8 TB drive. So, I might just abandon further diagnostics and cable purchase and just go get a new drive. I think by now they are likely Solid State, which I'd like to believe might make them more reliable. But, assuming it comes with a 3.o cable, I could check this old drive before installing.

Thanks again folks. I'll post a next update.
 

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Have Dog - Will Travel
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5,658 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Had to run some errands and stopped in the local Staples. Intended to look into a cable, but encountered new Seagate Slim 2TB backup. It take power from the USB cable, but I was wrong, is still rotating device. I plugged it into the already connected USB 3.0 cable that was connected to the failing drive, and it took right off and is now running a full back-up. I guess the old drive is bricked by some phenomenon. But price was right, and I consider the diagnostics exercise complete.

This is I guess an interesting comparison of generations of Seagate technology. Maybe 4-5 years apart, both 2TB drives:

2446193


Note: The new drive has an LED reflecting it is ready for service (or in this case, already on the job)
 
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