Delayed Write Failure With External Hard Drive

I had recently bought myself a new external hard drive because I had out grown my 250GB western digital drive. My new drive is the 2TB Western Digital My Book. My new drive has three methods of connecting to the computer: USB 2.0, Firewire, or eSATA. Since I don’t have an eSATA connection, I used Firewire.

While doing a simple file copy, I noticed that the copy speed was dreadfully slow. As a short term solution, I disconnected the Firewire, and connected the USB 2.0, at least until I determined why the Firewire was so slow. With the USB cable connected, I received much faster transfer rates, so I decided to backup my data from the drive to my online provider. During the transfer, I received an error message each time that basically stopped the backup procedure.

Write Failure to the External Hard Drive

Western Digital My Book 2TB

The backup would run for about an hour, and then Windows would being to display errors on the screen. The errors were all the same and stated:

Delayed Write Failure

It probably had trouble writing data to the external hard drive. My online backup provider probably writes data to the drive to indicate which files have been backed up, and had trouble doing so. I was surprised to see the message, as my drive is fairly new (only a few months old), so I decided to do some research.

Unlimited data backup with BackBlaze

During my research, I came across a list by Serdar Yegulalp called 8 common causes for ‘delayed write failed’ errors that outlines reasons for receiving the message. I won’t repeat the list here, but after going through the options, I narrowed it down to a few of the items.


While the link provided above requires signing up with the site, a repeat of the list can be found at Windows – Delayed Write Failed – Solved!.

Finding and Solving the Problem

The two that probably would have caused the error was either a media error or a cabling problem. I figured I would try a new cable first as the USB cable I was using was old because it came with a USB 1.1 memory card reader. Also, I hoped that it wasn’t a media error, as the hard drive was only a few months old.

After replacing the USB cable with the one that came with the hard drive, my problems went away. I was able to successfully backup my data with any problems.

Since then, however, I have switched my external hard drive back to a Firewire connection, and haven’t had any speed issues since. If I get speed issues again, I will need to solve that problem as well.


About Paul Salmon

Paul Salmon is the founder of Technically Easy. He is a an experienced PC user, and enjoys solving computer-related problems that he encounters on a regular basis.

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