A reader has spent a lot of money trying to solve a problem: “I’m at my wit’s end. I had a WD 5TB external hard drive. Got it in 2015. Was working well until February. I couldn’t disconnect from my USB hub. Then, I couldn’t even get into the hard drive. I was lucky enough to transfer a copy of my files onto my computer. So I bought another USB hub, that didn’t help. Then I bought another external. THAT didn’t help. Do you think it’s the USB port in the back of my computer (HP all-in-one)?”

It very well could be. That’s why when you see an issue with any item that connects via USB, you should try a couple of things before you buy anything. First, check for a driver update for your device. That never hurts. If none are available, we can move on.

usb_ports

Try plugging something else into that USB port. Just plug in a flash drive and see if you are able to access it.  If that flash drive works, you’ll know the issue is likely either your port or your drive. You can then try individually plugging those items into another USB port to see which one is having the problem.

In would also be helpful to the cause of troubleshooting, if you could plug your hub or your drive into another PC to see how they work there.

exthdd

If your drive or hub doesn’t work when you plug them into another USB port, don’t assume the device is necessarily broken. It’s possible that a cable is the culprit. Either it’s not securely into the port of either your PC or the device, or the cable itself has gone bad.

If your device is using a fairly common cable, such as a USB to microUSB connection, you should try digging out an additional cable, or perhaps consider purchasing an inexpensive one to test. In the long run, that could be less expensive than buying a new external hard drive or purchasing items you don’t need.

~ Cynthia