Proper way to connect and disconnect external hard drives

A couple of months ago, one of my external hard drives went belly up. Fortunately, it was still under warranty, and Western Digital sent me a RMA replacement. The most important of all, I had the opportunity to copy all the content to another volume before I sent it back for RMA.

The lesson: always have double, or triple copies of your important data on different physical volumes. Also, it is better to follow the manufacture’s suggestion to properly connect and disconnect the device.

From Western Digital’s documentation, the proper way to connect a USB or FireWire hard drive is the following, and the sequence is important:

To Connect

  1. Plug the power adapter into a wall outlet. You can try a power strip or UPS but if you have problems with the drive, try connecting it to a wall outlet.
  2. Connect the power plug into the back of the drive. It’s okay if the drive powers on, then off, or if you see some lights come on for a brief second.
  3. Connect the USB or FireWire cable directly into your computer (do not use a USB or FireWire hub). If your drive has more than one port, only use one. Do not connect both the USB and FireWire together to the computer.
  4. Connect the other end of the USB or FireWire cable into the external drive. The drive should then power on (you shouldn’t need to use the power switch), if your computer is on, Windows should detect and install the native Windows drivers for your drive. If the drive is formatted for your computer system, it should show up in My Computer with a drive letter.

To Disconnect

  1. Please ensure that any files residing on the external hard drive are closed and no programs are accessing the hard drive.
  2. Eject the volume through OS, safely remove the drive for Windows, Command-E for Mac
  3. The hard drive will spin down and turn off on it’s own. When prompted, You can unplug the USB or FireWire cable and/or power cable.
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