Firewire enclosure misbehaving

I have an external brandless Firewire enclosure I use with a 200gb Maxtor drive.
It’s always had more character than I liked, occasionally giving me “Delayed write failed” errors, whereupon I had to turn it off and back on to let the system see it. But it did so rarely enough that I could stand it.
Lately, though, the frequency of this error has increased a lot, and I can no longer tolerate it.
It does it randomly out of the blue, not necessarily when transfers are happening.
Is there any way to stop it?
I tried downloading the maxtor utility to reduce packets to 1kb, but it won’t see it.
I tried going in the BIOS to set PCI latency to 8 (or 128, as suggested by some web pages), but there isn’t the option to do so.

I’m on a Toshiba M30X laptop.

Any ideas?

If your OS is fully updated, then really all you can do is replace the enclosure which is surely at fault.

This error is generated by Windows whenever Windows wants to write to the drive (so also when caching etc) but the drive doesn’t work like it should. This error could happen due to bad cabling, a HDD that hasn’t been plugged in ok, a failing controller, drivers, a bad HDD, a bad powersupply etc etc. So there are quite some things to test.

If I were you (I’m not btw :p), I’d start to test with the harddrive in a computer, hooked up to regular IDE controller. Or… I’d try to use the setup on some other system. Switch cables and try again. Maybe even switch powersupplies (for the enclosure!).

Since the several OS bugs that produced this error were fixed, we most often see it with a bad enclosure. But certainly a cable or controller problem is not impossible, although I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a bad firewire cable.
Putting the HD on IDE is a good troubleshooting step, but I’ll bet a six-pack it’s not the drive.

I’ll take that bet. Let’s enjoy the beer together :slight_smile:

Anyhow… I did see FW cable problems quite some times before. The office I work for sells FW based backup systems and to be honest, I’ve seen problems due to failing FW cables quite some times…

That’s good to know. I’m one of those poeple who never throws a cable away.

>bad cabling
Unlikely; the enclosure gives the error literally out of the blue. I can just be typing peacefully on the keyboard, and up springs the error message. In contrast, I can wiggle the firewire cable all I like, move the enclosure around or even shake it, and it’ll still work

>a HDD that hasn’t been plugged in ok
I’m not new around hard drives; I’m pretty sure I plugged it in correctly :stuck_out_tongue:

>a failing controller
On the computer, you say? Possible, but unlikely. Everything else works fine.

>drivers
What drivers would I be looking to upgrade? I already have Toshiba’s latest, but they are over a year old.

>a bad HDD
Definitely not. The enclosure does it with other drives too, while the 200gb Maxtor works fine with a USB-to-IDE cable.

>a bad powersupply
I already tried switching the enclosure’s power supply. I powered it off an old surplus computer PSU I have, and it still didn’t work right.

>test with the harddrive in a computer
As I said, the drive works fine on a USB2 cable. I don’t have easy access to another firewire enabled system to test the enclosure on.

I’m still betting that a new enclosure will solve the problem. The Prolific chipset is preferred in some circles.

I know a new enclosure would solve the problem, if nothing else because I’d get another USB-to-IDE adaptor cable instead. But the whole point of this thread is to attempt to get the enclosure I already have to behave itself so that I don’t have to buy another one…

Nothing you can do about a bad chipset, is there?

Good source for Prolific chipset enclosures. If you go to 5.25 inch you can always justify it as an upgrade for a yet to be named burner. :rolleyes:

http://www.dealsonic.com/plpmblcousb22.html

But it appears to me that the hardware in the enclosure is the problem. The easiest way out is a new enclosure.
If you’re handy with a soldering iron it would be worth looking at the PCB in the housing for bad/dry joints. If the enclosure is ‘old’ I would replace all the electrolytic capacitors as well. I would have said replace all the decoupling capacitors but as these are likely to be surface mount types you’ll probably damage the PCB getting them off.
Regards.

@weedougie, I don’t disagree with your statement but I would use the words “very competent with a soldering iron” vs handy as I can see some people doing more damage to other circuts in close proximity to the circut they are trying to solder/repair. Just my 2 cents.:slight_smile:

I see your point, but as the board in the enclosure is causing problems and is likely to ultimately fail, a visual examination of the solder joints and the resoldering of these may bring the unit back to use and stability.
Any body that has made up and/or repaired electronic circuits would be ‘handy’ with a soldering iron. When I repair various things I have found that about one third of problems with operation or stability are caused by bad soldering (usually due to the flow soldering machine not set up properly).
In this case he has little to lose as this is a hardware and not software problem, the worst scenario is a new enclosure.
But to all those who read these threads it is important that you have the proper skills to do the job. If not then find a friend or relation that has and is willing to help you.
Regards.

Heh.
I followed advice I got in another board, and deactivated disk spin-down in the power properties.
This seems to have done the trick. I’ve ran the enclosure for a few hours and haven’t gotten any error yet.
Come to think of it, the errors had increased in frequency around the time I had modified the spin down time a month or so ago.

Hopefully the spindown has solved the problem. If it recurs, I recommend the AMS DS-2316CBK external enclosure (available online from Newegg and others). I tested a number of these a while ago with several different laptops including the Toshiba M35X which is close to your model. The AMS enclosure is very reliable even with Maxtor drives which are sometimes problematic. The variety of solutions to the problem has I believe to do more with the chipset compatability than software settings, but many have reported success with a software tweak. In the case of the Toshiba, the touchpad settings can sometimes hog the resources as well. I used Beyond Compare to check the integrity of the file tranfers, and this enclosure was even able to do 60 gig sequential wave file transfers. The oxford half of the chipset is programmable, but you should not have to change the settings. My friend uses these to run terrabyte arrays from a hub because of the reliability and cooling system.

Some of the chipsets on external enclosures are not the best of quality. Especially on the cheaper models. If an external enclosure doesn’t work despite testing of all the cabling and power supply, return it as it it’s probably a chipset problem. Having said that, sometimes folk plug them into their USB ports and don’t bother plugging in the power cable. Or they plug in only one of two USB plugs that some external notebook drives have. Reminds me of the guy who came to us complaining that his drive was bricked after installation. He hadn’t noticed there were plastic rails that slide out to reveal mounting holes (the packet of screws might have been a clue!) so with no mounting the drive could rattle around inside! Of course, after a few knocks and bumps he lost a 200Gb IDE drive. Yet another sad case of not reading the instruction manual.