Drive freezes computer; can I 'Error Check' when password protected?

Please help.  My WD external hard drive (might be an WD Element?) has worked perfectly for several years.  However, recently, when I plug it in, it allows me to unlock it (using the VCD - Virtual CD?).  However, as soon as it’s unlocked, it freezes my computer.  I cannot use my computer again until the external hard drive is switched off or unplugged. A brief error comes up saying that there’s an error on the drive and that it needs to be error checked, but it locks up before I can start the check.  

Is there anyway to error check the drive while it’s still VCD locked?  Or is there another option?

Hi nicsb, it is possible that the files in the hard drive are corrupted and the computer freezes when it tries to read them. As a troubleshooting step you can try using another USB cable or connecting the hard drive to another PC.