Windows 10 does not recognize change of external hard drive

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  1. Rich Pasco's Avatar
    Posts : 24
    Windows 10 Pro
       #1

    Windows 10 does not recognize change of external hard drive


    I had something really creepy happen today with Windows 10 Version 1903. Last month I bought a pair of Seagate external USB-connected 8 TB hard drives, model 1XAAY5-570. I unpacked one of them, connected it to my computer, and ran a full system backup. Today I powered down the computer, disconnected that drive, took it to my bank and stored it in my safe deposit box. With the computer still powered down, I unpacked the other one from its factory carton, connected it to my computer, and rebooted. Then I did a "DIR" on the brand-new drive, straight out of the factory box. To my surprise, Windows showed me the directory of the first drive (now three miles away) complete with the same Volume Serial Number, Volume Label which I had personally assigned, and all the files and folders in the root directory. No amount of yelling and screaming “It's not the same drive!” could convince Windows to clear whatever cache it had and refresh itself from the factory-new drive.

    Just for grins, I tried running CHKDSK on the new drive, omitting the /F (fix) parameter because I didn't want to change anything on the new drive. CHKDSK proudly announced the label of the original, now-removed drive, and proceeded announce a whole bunch of corruption on the brand-new drive. I aborted it without waiting for it to finish.

    Next, I shut down the computer and removed the new external drive, then rebooted, hoping that Windows would notice its absence. Indeed, DIR on its drive letter returned "The system cannot find the path specified." Then I shut down again, reconnected the new drive, and rebooted. It was back, albeit at a different drive letter, but still with the same incorrect Volume Label and root directory.

    A little Google searching found a utility called DriveCleanup. According to its web site, “it removes all currently non-present USB Storage Devices, Disks, CDROMs, Floppies, Storage Volumes and WPD devices from the device tree. Furthermore it removes orphaned registry items related to these device types."

    So once again I shut down my computer, disconnected the new drive, and rebooted without it. This time, however, I invoked DriveCleanup. It deleted a whole bunch of USB disk devices and registry keys (contact me if you want to see its long log). Full of hope, I shut down the computer, reconnected the new external drive, and rebooted.

    But alas, Windows still thinks it is the original drive, now in the bank.

    Any ideas how I can get Windows to forget what it thinks it knows and recognize that this is a physically different drive?

    By the way, I had used a similar backup strategy with a different pair of external hard drives on my older Windows XP machine, and Windows never got them confused.
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  2. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 11,048
    Win10 Pro Versions 2004 and 2009/20H2, Win10 Pro IP_Dev, Win10 Home 1909
       #2

    The process is a bit different with later versions of Windows. I've found it best to start the computer without external drives plugged in then with Win10 fully up to speed plug in a drive and let it be recognized. Do the work and with the computer still running click the up arrow next the the clock in the Notification Area and find and click the icon for Safely remove hardware [or words to that effect]. Unplug the drive when the prompt to do so appears. Shutting down the computer is not necessary but could be done when nothing else works. There will be prompts at times when Win10 is not through its work, the drive is still in use, unplugging at that time risks serious file corruption. The same info applies to any USB storage device.
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  3. Rich Pasco's Avatar
    Posts : 24
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #3

    Berton said:
    The process is a bit different with later versions of Windows. I've found it best to start the computer without external drives plugged in then with Win10 fully up to speed plug in a drive and let it be recognized.
    Thanks for the suggestion, Berton, but that didn't make any difference. I booted my PC without the drive, then plugged in the new drive. As soon as it spun up, Windows again showed it with the volume label of the now-absent drive, and then told me "there is a problem with [that drive], scan it to fix it." Not gonna let windows try to "fix" it since it is not the drive Windows thinks it is; to do so would risk corrupting my brand new virgin drive.
      My Computer

  4. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 11,048
    Win10 Pro Versions 2004 and 2009/20H2, Win10 Pro IP_Dev, Win10 Home 1909
       #4

    One other thing that works is to use different USB ports for each drive. I keep 2 USB drives plugged in all the time and in Disk Management have drive letters assigned. If I have to shut the computer down or reboot I don't unplug them unless needing to do maintenance on the machine.

    Another thing I do is Label the drives differently [right-click and Rename], one is WD4TB and the other is WD2TB.
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  5. Try3's Avatar
    Posts : 8,366
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H1 Build 19043.1052
       #5

    Personally, when I cannot identify a fault other that it is within Windows rather than an application, I run
    - SFC
    - Repair install

    Actually, I would normally first confirm that the fault really is a Windows fault by seeing if it was apparent during Safe mode as well but that does not seem relevant to this case.

    Denis
      My Computer

  6. jumanji's Avatar
    Posts : 6,382
    Windows 10 Home 64bit Version 21H1
       #6

    Rich Pasco said:
    .........A little Google searching found a utility called DriveCleanup. According to its web site, “it removes all currently non-present USB Storage Devices, Disks, CDROMs, Floppies, Storage Volumes and WPD devices from the device tree. Furthermore it removes orphaned registry items related to these device types."
    So once again I shut down my computer, disconnected the new drive, and rebooted without it. This time, however, I invoked DriveCleanup. It deleted a whole bunch of USB disk devices and registry keys (contact me if you want to see its long log). Full of hope, I shut down the computer, reconnected the new external drive, and rebooted.
    But alas, Windows still thinks it is the original drive, now in the bank..........
    To remove the non-present devices , Drive cleanup should be run as administrator. Did you run it as administrator?
    If you hadn't, try running it again as administrator.
      My Computer

  7. mngerhold's Avatar
    Posts : 669
    W10-2009 19042.928
       #7

    Could this be a fast startup issue? I have not used it for some time, but know that when dual-booting XP & W10, fast startup caused no end of problems with drives, and I vaguely recall seeing the 'wrong' contents on a drive, perhaps due to drive letter differences bwteen the two OSes. Of course, a restart (rather than a shut-down and start) would make the issue go away, and surely at least one of those has occurred since the first USB drive was connected?
      My Computer

  8. CountMike's Avatar
    Posts : 18,715
    W10+Developer Insider + Linux
       #8

    Did you "Safely eject" first drive before removing it ?
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  9. Rich Pasco's Avatar
    Posts : 24
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #9

    CountMike said:
    Did you "Safely eject" first drive before removing it ?
    I tried, but got "Cannot eject this drive because Windows is using it." So instead, I did a full system shutdown, and then removed it while power was off.

    - - - Updated - - -

    mngerhold said:
    Could this be a fast startup issue? I have not used it for some time, but know that when dual-booting XP & W10, fast startup caused no end of problems with drives, and I vaguely recall seeing the 'wrong' contents on a drive, perhaps due to drive letter differences bwteen the two OSes. Of course, a restart (rather than a shut-down and start) would make the issue go away, and surely at least one of those has occurred since the first USB drive was connected?
    As noted in the original post, I did a full shutdown and restart, which should be at least as effective as a restart.

    - - - Updated - - -

    jumanji said:
    To remove the non-present devices , Drive cleanup should be run as administrator. Did you run it as administrator?
    If you hadn't, try running it again as administrator.
    Yes, I ran it as administrator. Sorry I didn't mention that in the initial post. Actually I have done everything in this post as administrator.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Berton said:
    One other thing that works is to use different USB ports for each drive. I keep 2 USB drives plugged in all the time and in Disk Management have drive letters assigned. If I have to shut the computer down or reboot I don't unplug them unless needing to do maintenance on the machine.
    Another thing I do is Label the drives differently [right-click and Rename], one is WD4TB and the other is WD2TB.
    Please re-read my original post. I will not keep the two drives plugged in at the same time because this is an off-site backup strategy; having them plugged in at the same time would jeopardize all my data (for example, if ransomware should take over my system at that moment). And yes, they do have different labels. And yes I used the same USB port, the one available for my backup drive(s).
      My Computer

  10. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,701
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #10

    Rich Pasco said:
    As noted in the original post, I did a full shutdown and restart, which should be at least as effective as a restart.
    If Fast Startup is enabled (which it is by default) a shut down from Start is not as 'full' as you might think. Starting up after a hybrid shut down is a form of resuming from hibernation.

    A Restart is always a full start up from cold. There are a number of other ways to shut down fully, such as Option Eight here...

    If you don't plan to use your PC for a while, then you could shut down (turn off) the PC. A shutdown will close all apps, sign out all users, and completely turn off the PC. Hybrid shutdown performs a shutdown of the computer and prepares it for fast startup.
    Shut Down Computer in Windows 10
      My Computers


 
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