From what you have mentioned it looks to me that you have issues with transfer speed rather than the actual external hard drive not working.
The speed of tranfer of data depends on the model (age) of your external hard drive, the USB type, the USB cables and ports used. The older versions of the external hard drive with USB 1.0 version has a transfer speed on 12 Mbps, th USB 2.0 had a file transfer rate of 480 mbps. In comparsion, the USB 3.0 offers a transfer speed of around 4-4.8 Gbps.
You can certainly try changing the cables (look for a high speed file transfer cable for USB 2.0) and the USB port that your using or try connecting it to a different laptop. You can also check how good your external hard drive is by running the brand specific diagnostic tool that should be there in the original hard drive.
The other thing you can try is connect the external hard drive to your computer. The left click on the stat icon of your PC/laptop. Go to computer option and right click to select manage. Once the popup screen opens, then click on device manager, you will see all the devices attached to the computer. Next expand the icon disk drives by clicking on the '+' sign, it will show you all the attached disks, if not refresh and start once again. Once you see your External hard disk, select and right click on properties which will show you the properties with headings (general,policies,volumes,driver,details). Here click on the tab that has polices and then select the Optimize option that should increase the performance of the disk.
Lastly, in general terms copying a file and pasting it takes a longer time than moving a file from A to B. You can just gets the steps from internet after connecting your hard drive and see that should help you too.
It is also important to know that external hard drives also come with a shelf life. Backblaze had 25,000 hard disks online and found that 90% of them survived for 3 years and 80% were functional at the end of 4 years. Your hard drive is around 7 years old, maybe it's time to change. If all this does not help, then seek professional help from local computer hard ware experts, please careful about the chance of data/ personal images being misused.