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I usually face scenarios like yours and this is what i normaly do. Firstly Change the USB ports(in other words try all the usb ports you have on the computer. If it doesnt work try to use a diffrent USB cable. If it doesnt, then open up the hard drive and remove the usb connector and connect it directly to your computer's motherboard as a slave. Here, no doubt you will access it. Even though you have re-installed Windows 7, maybe your computer needs High speed USB Drivers
It could be that the USB port you are using to transfer the data is not a "High Speed 2.0" enabled port. Does it give you a pop-up message when you plug it in, one that says "This device can perform faster". If so, It is not a High Speed USB port. Try using another USB port on your PC.
Are you connecting this high-speed ("USB 2.0") device to a low-speed ("USB 1.1") USB-port on your computer? If so, and your computer has a "USB 2.0" port, connect your device to that port.
If not, then purchase an add-in PCI card for your computer, to add "USB 2.0" port(s).
Not exactly a solution but I have had the same problem with one of these Simple Tech Signature Mini 320's for a while. Real finicky. Will only be recognized on direct connected to MB USB ports and even then with Win 7 or XP I get the "This USB device can perform faster if you connect it to a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port." no matter what ports I connect it to. While having this issue on this "main" computer I have previously connected it to some other computer (don't remember which, now) and it connected at 2.0 speed. What's going on??
For the USB ports, you may want to verify that the drivers for the "enhanced USB" are up to date and for USB 2.0 or 1.1. USB 2.0 ports are generally backwards compatible for 1.1 devices. The "enhanced" does indicate USB 2.0 controller. 30mins to backup 3GB to your external drive is a VERY long time. USB 2.0 transfers data up to 480mbps, but if you get an error message indicating that the device can perform faster on a 2.0 port, you maybe transferring data at 12mbps which is USB 1.1 speed
To speed up the transferring of data, identify which USB contoller in Device Manager is the USB port you're having a problem with, and delete it from Device Manager. Then, plug in your external drive into a USB port its never used before.
As for the naming of hard drives, Hitachi partners with several drive manufacturers including Dell and IBM.
I have the same issue. I have 4 Simpletech Signature 250GB drives. They all worked fine at first. After about six months two of them started connecting at USB 1 speeds. It occurs on 4 different computers!!! The post about it being the computer assumes is wrong. How can it work fine for six months and then suddenly change. Also it occurs on different computers. I have submitted a tech support request with simpletech and will post the results.
I know this is an old thread, however if it helps any one try this: Zippys power supply failed for me also. The problem here is your case support USB 2.0 ("A high speed USB device") and your port is only USB 1.1 ("plugged into a non-HI-SPEED usb hub"). This will not give adequate power to the drive. So use a y-cable (http://www.toshibadirect.com/images/ui3/accessories/toshiba-usb-y-cable-ba82010-300.gif) and connect one end to your casing and the two pins at the other end should be connected to two USB ports. (get it at http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/adet.to?poid=438342). Another costlier way is to upgrade to USB 2.0 by a card like this http://www.belkin.com/support/download/download.asp?category=1&lang=1&mode= or even better a USB 3.0 card : http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=lGYmelQ8mJvPtYTv