I have an old hard drive from a friend that I'm trying to get data off of to transfer to a new computer. First, thought, I wanted to scan it for viruses. So I connected it to my Lubuntu computer with an IDE (I think--it's from the Windows 2000 era) to USB connector and it successfully mounted. I can browse the file system. But every time I try to scan it for viruses it unmounts and remounts. I've tried both ClamAV and Comodo and it does the same thing. Anyone know what's going on?

Update: It does the same thing if I try to copy a lot of files too. But I can can get a small word document off of it no problem...


Is your Lubuntu computer a laptop? Is your friends IDE a 3.5 inch HDD? If so, I think the problem here may be that your USB connectors cannot provide enough power to spin the drive for extended times. I had this problem when I was trying to spin a 2.5 inch on a Raspberry Pi (not good...not...good). Here are some solutions that may help if this is the problem (which is what it looks like):

  • Try on a Desktop Machine - Desktop machines provide much more amperage through their usb ports. They are almost always capable of spinning 3.5 HDDs.
  • Save as much power as you can - Darken your screen, unplug other devices, turn off wifi and blutooth, and pray to God that you have enough power to spin the drive on your laptop. You may also look at powertop. This measures power usage from multiple devices and can disable/change certain devices' power consumption.
  • Try on another laptop - It may be your machines is just too efficient when it comes to power production. Another laptop may have better luck.

This is about all you can do. I would bet 95% that the problem you are experiencing IS power related. Your system can spin the disk for a bit, but after too much speed, the system cuts off connection to the USB to preserve the core system components. After the amperage builds up again, it allows connection again. This is why you would experience disconnecting/reconnecting happening, especially with large file or large system scans.

  • I agree that power may be the issue. Another possible solution is to use a powered USB hub in between the USB adapter and the laptop. – Seth Sep 2 '14 at 17:35
  • The USB connector is powered... This is what I'm using: amazon.com/gp/product/B009VBM8I6/… And it's not a laptop. It's an MSI WindBox I found on EBay, made for commercial use for mounting on the back of a monitor, but I use it for a cheap linux box. – John Sep 2 '14 at 19:16

If it's a problem with something the antivirus is doing rather than a power issue, I would suggest a rather run-around solution. Use something like VirtualBox to manage the files in a virtual machine. Copy them to the virtual hard-drive to avoid infecting your actual system, and run antivirus on the now virtually local files, to avoid over-spinning or over powering the HDD. After the integrity is verified, you can wipe the external drive and copy the clean files to the wiped drive. Long process, but it should work no problem.

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