I’ve had a lot of trouble with external hard drives in the past. Sometimes the things just broke, sometimes they seemed to break and behaved wildly irregular — working one time, then nothing the next moment, or working with one machine and not with the other. A symptom I’ve observed several times with drives that were “not working” is that there’s a regular “clicking” noise coming from the drive when plugged in, as if it’s trying to get the mechanics working without success.

One of the things I’ve tried before when these issues struck is to use different cables. Recently I believe I may have found the actual issue: almost all USB cables I have suck. I’m talking about the standard big plug to little plug things that you get with every stupid USB device you buy. They all look pretty much the same, with the exception that some have ferrite beads on them. Some of them claim (in the small printed text on the cable itself) to be shielded, but then of course they all claim to be USB 2.0 compatible and none carry a note “please don’t expect me to work with your hard drive though”. Now I’ve found one cable that I can use pretty reliably with external hds, which is fine. But the whole issue makes me wonder if all these are known facts. I tried searching Google, and of course, as is always the case with cables, there are enough companies who offer cables that work with voodoo and similar techniques to offer much better quality. In the digital world I don’t hold much belief in voodoo though, and there’s a peculiar absence of hard information. Guess I’ll grab a bunch of good looking cables somewhere and see if they support my theory.