I plugged in my 80GB external USB2 2.5″ drive, used for backups, to be greeted by a nasty sounding beeping/clicking from the drive and its status light cycling on/off. Did not seem good! The same thing happened when I tried it on another PC.
Then I thought to try a different USB to mini-usb cable. Phew, it worked.
I guess fatigue set in on the first cable (that I use every few days to transfer podcasts to my player) and it no longer can provide the juice to spin up the drive.