Hi Nuisance101, I recall your running vista. Vista is a nightmare. If you cound only see the troubles we see on a daily basis here at FixYa you'ed understand. It's a common problem with Vista not seeing USB devices, externial devices. It does & then the next second it doesn't. Same for all external devices. I'm am 100% sure the trouble is not your system or your devices. It's Vista. I have gone over dozens of post from vista users. One would think MS has been on vacation since the release of vista. You can look at vista's web site for help for a possible fix, at this link. (I have no faith). MS blames driver software. Your Maxtor drive is external. Henve no driver software.
So it falls into that vista area of one time vista see's the drive & the next it does not.
Either way I though Maxtor addressed vista issues. I prefer Seagate drives myself. Personally know lots of people who's Maxtor's drives have just gone down for no reason. Seagate bought Maxtor.
Most of the post from vista users, claim users should check vista's updates often. Since Max Blaster did its job, I'm inclined to blame vista.
I wish I could give you a better fix or suggestion but I'm up against vista. That's why I run WinXP Pro. I do not have these problems.
Best wishes Nuisance101!