MacInTouch Reader Reports

Hard Drives: Questions

Jan. 2, 2009
Jan. 3, 2009
Jan. 19, 2009
Jan. 21, 2009
Jan. 27, 2009
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Aug. 1, 2009

Newer entries...
Jan. 2, 2009

item.84407

Tom Diflo

For what it's worth, I have at least half a dozen 2.5" hard drives in Other World Computing's enclosures, from swapping out hard drives from my various laptops. All of them, whether they are USB 1 or 2, or FW 400 and 800, operate well on bus power alone from any of the ports on a MacBook, 2 Macbook Pros, 2 MacBook Airs, and 2 G5 iMacs.

Happy New Year, everyone. And thanks for this site - it's always the first open on my browser in the morning.

item.84413

Antonio Tejada

Rob Packett suggested:

"Tho' Apple docs say USB supplies 500 ma (per the USB spec), I expect a lesser usable amount at the port because of built-in USB items (e.g., keyboard, Bluetooth)."

It's 500mA per port. The internal devices are on their own "ports" internally and do not take away from the external ports. The issues arise with devices that require more than 500mA, which no USB port can be expected to provide. (Many do, but it should not be an expectation when designing a product.)

item.84433

MacInTouch Reader

Rob Packett wrote:

"Tho' Apple docs say USB supplies 500 ma (per the USB spec), I expect a lesser usable amount at the port because of built-in USB items (e.g., keyboard, Bluetooth)."

Here is an Apple document re USB on various models:

USB Product-Specific Details

The wording varies by model, and it seems confusing. For example, under the MacBook Pro (Feb 2008) model, it says "the controllers support three external USB ports (one available for high-powered devices)..." plus the internal USB devices, and then later it says, "the USB ports support 1.1 A at 5 V nominal for 2.5 W power per port". A high-powered port is 500 mA; a non-high-powered port should supply 100 mA. You could get 1.1 A total with 2 high-powered ports plus one low-power, but that's not what the first statement says. And 2.5 W is the power for a high-powered port. If I were an engineer designing hardware that depended on this info, I'd be calling Apple to ask what their tech writer meant.

At any rate, I think the doc implies that the external port power is net of internal requirements, not subtracted from them.

The other thing I would conclude from the doc is that if you attach a Y-cable, you're not necessarily supposed to get twice 500 mA, and what you get may vary by model.

item.84437

Dan Gillmor

The USB problem seems to have been solely with the PowerBook G4s. External drives that ran fine from USB ports on other computers (including iBooks) failed to run without Y cables or external power on the 15" and 17" aluminum Macs with PowerPC processors.

(See this thread and this one on Apple's support boards. Apple never acknowledged it, as far as I know.

External drives I couldn't get to power up do run with USB power from my Intel MacBook Pros.

item.84445

Peter Morris

I have had various Pluscom 2.5" enclosures that have had various manufacturers drives in them over the years. All have powered from the connecting cable. They are also very cheap, at least in the UK (see http://www.etradehouse.com/).

Jan. 3, 2009

item.84481

MacInTouch Reader

I have a 120 GB G-drive Mini, FW, USB, SATA, that will not spin up when connected to a USB port on an Intel 2.33 GHz iMac (White) whether connected directly or by way of a powered hub. G-Drives confirms this.

item.84496

Skot Nelson

Re:

The USB problem seems to have been solely with the PowerBook G4s

I'm going to *assume* that the "problem" being referred to here is inadequate power for an external 2.5" drive.

If this is the case, then the original author's conclusion is *not* true. The same "problem" can be found on some Intel MacBooks, as I mentioned earlier.

It's worth pointing out, however, that this "problem" may not be a laptop problem at all, but a drive problem. Some manufacturers may be using components that require more power than USB can technically deliver, and relying on two ports as a result. I'm not sure what the motivations might be (aside from the obvious potentially rampant speculation about cost savings.)

Jan. 19, 2009

item.85582

Jon Voskuil

Should I let my hard drives sleep when they're not in use, or leave them spinning 24/7?

I can't count the number of times I've seen people confidently say that shutting down and powering up a hard drive is just about the worst thing you can do to it. Surging power, straining bearings, fatiguing metal -- an invitation to disaster. But I've never seen anyone back up such a statement with data from a controlled study of current-technology hard drives.

Why would Apple encourage us to let our drives sleep with an option in Energy Saver if it's bad for the drives and ultimately for our data? Why don't drive manufacturers warn us against letting our drives spin down or powering down our computers? A person might claim that it's because they want us to wear out our drives and buy more replacements -- but is there evidence to support such cynicism?

I'd love to hear about test results that answer this question with some authority other than "common knowledge" passed on from one "expert" to another.

Jan. 21, 2009

item.85599

Tracy Valleau

I once asked a hard drive engineer at Maxtor those very questions: if I power on/off every 24 hours (read: shut down at night) doesn't that cooling cycle and motor strain lower the live of my drive?

Answer: yes... but no. If a drive is going to fail, it will fail fairly quickly, in the first few months, or after its designed life span (usually 3 years). Letting it run for three years is approximately equivalent to letting it run 2/3 of that time, with the other 1/3 eaten up by the power cycling.

I've been at this for 30+ years now, both power cycling and running 24/7 servers. For all practical uses, her statement was entirely correct: buy a three-year warranted drive, and it will last three years, generally speaking, and the difference isn't worth worrying about.

Sorry: no controlled tests here (See the Google test elsewhere) - just a direct conversation with a designer of hard drives, and my own 30-year experience.

item.85614

Davide Guarisco

Jon Voskuil asks:

"Should I let my hard drives sleep when they're not in use, or leave them spinning 24/7?"

Old disk drives used to park the heads on a special region of the disk when spun down. After a large number of start/stop cycles, this zone tended to wear out resulting in stiction between the heads and the disk. The drive would not spin up.

But most drives today lift the heads from the disk and park them on a ramp. There is no more risk of stiction. Therefore you can safely put your hard drives to sleep.

Jan. 27, 2009

item.86048

Arthur Kent

Just saw this on dealmac.com:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?SID=905891-1-0-ARTICLE-0&Item=N82E16822148335

This is one of the affected drives which are causing problems. 640MB is plenty for me, and it does have a 32 MB cache. But, from other comments, the increase in cache for me (from 8 MB to 32 MB) will make little difference, if any. Still, not a bad price for the drive.

On a related subject, when I look at the Activity Monitor for my MacPro 2,66GHz machine, I see where all the active applications use Virtual Memory (in addition to Real Memory). On my machine, I have 3 Gig of memory, and in the Activity Monitor, it states that out of the 3 gig, about 386 MB is "Wired", and 2.3 Gig is free. It also states "VM Size: 25.56 GB", and "Used: 703 MB". Is there any way that I can "force" some of the applications (primarily system related) to use the available memory which I have? I suspect that would make the Mac Pro run faster, especially at Start Up.

Jan. 28, 2009

item.86119

Robert Mohns

Is there any way to tell which mechanism is inside Seagate's FreeAgent external hard drives?

The FreeAgent 1TB FW800 model is attractively priced, but is it a ticking time bomb?

item.86131

Gregory Weston

Arthur Kent wonders:

"On a related subject, when I look at the Activity Monitor for my MacPro 2,66GHz machine, I see where all the active applications use Virtual Memory (in addition to Real Memory). ... Is there any way that I can "force" some of the applications (primarily system related) to use the available memory which I have? I suspect that would make the Mac Pro run faster, especially at Start Up."

It wouldn't. Arthur is misunderstanding the implications of the virtual memory column and the manner in which OS X uses various kinds of memory. The VM numbers include the amount of space on disk consumed by the application code itself and every shared library linked into it. It's not really gratuitously spooling stuff off to disk while ignoring 3/4 of the RAM in your machine.

Mar. 14, 2009

item.88852

Andy Dannelley

Just got a new iMac. My old iMac G5 was running 10.4.11 so no Time Machine. On the new iMac I am running 10.5.6 I find I have questions about how to go about making best use of this new facility available to me. Since my new iMac has only one firewire port (FW 800) I also need an additional port here.

My thoughts are to use an external drive connected with FW 800 as a Time Machine backup and use the (usually) extra FW 800 port to extend the FW 800 and I find I can get a dual interface drive with both FW 800 and FW 400, so I could use the FW 400 for FW 400 devices like other FW 400 drives and my video camera.

Currently I use SuperDuper to make clone backups of my HD on a weekly basis. I plan to continue that in addition to the facility offered by Time Machine (on a separate drive).

My questions are...

Is it a good idea to use the extra FW 800 or 400 port on an external to connect other drives to use for clone BUs?

If that is a good idea...

What brand and size of drive to use for the Time Machine BU (FW 400/800 sharing)

A. Maxtor?
(I have several OneTuch II and OneTuch III that I use for clones, I have been using them for a few years without problem. I seem to remember reading about problems with Maxtor have I just been lucky?)

B. Newertech MiniStack v3 from OWC MacSales?

C. OWC Mercury Elite-AL?Pro??

If the OWC Mercury Eltite is a good choice...

Is a 750 GB large enough?

Is it worth it to get the 1TB Enterprise 7200RPM?

Any other suggestions?

Mar. 18, 2009

item.89160

Peter Marx

Andy Dannelley asks about using multiple external FireWire drives for Time Machine backups and also for making SuperDuper clones.

Andy, my setup is quite similar to that. I have both OWC's Ministack V2, and two of their Mercury Elite Pro-AL dual drive enclosure.

The Ministack is the quietest external drive I've ever had; mine is the V2 but I expect the V3 is similarly quiet.

The Mercury Elite dual enclosure gives the most storage per dollar and per cubic foot, because it puts two drives in one case for the cheapest I've found.

Maybe someone else will have a good rule of thumb here, but for your Time Machine backups I would get 1.5 times your internal drive capacity. For your SuperDuper clones, it just depends how many simultaneous clones you want.

If money were not tight, I'd get 3 Ministacks; use one for Time Machine and use the other two for rotating clone backups with one offsite and one onsite at all times.

You should have no problem chaining these together with FireWire, but you never know until you try it. FireWire chains are notoriously finicky, although my experience has been that if a combination of drives is not going to work togther, it will be apparent quickly. I run a torture test with any new drives I'm adding to my chain. If they are not going to play well together, I know within the first few hours.

item.89168

Stephen Hart

Peter Marx wrote, re: Time Machine and clone drives:

"You should have no problem chaining these together with FireWire, but you never know until you try it."

I'm not sure why one would want to chain drives for this kind of backup scheme. I have a Time Machine drive (also an OWC) running full time, backing up my G5 and two PowerBooks on our LAN.

When I clone my G5, I unmount and power down the Time Machine drive and use its cables to attach one of my clone drives.

It only takes a few seconds to switch drives. Keeping clone drives in a drawer (and/or off site) gives them extra protection, not only from electronic glitches, but from user error.

Mar. 19, 2009

item.89198

Andy Dannelley

Thanks for all the useful responses, much appreciated. I guess I did not fully explain what I am considering with the miniStack.

What I am considering is using the miniStack as a Time Machine Backup, and since it is advertised as a Firewire and USB hub, using that feature to just plug in my clone drives (or other special purpose drives like video or extra photo or extra photo storage) and my video cameras which have firewire 400.

The new iMac has only FW 800, but the miniStack has both FW 400 and FW 800 in/outs as well as a USB hub, thus useful as a FW and USB hub.

I have two other drives (Maxtor OneTouch III FW 800 bought months ago in anticipation of getting the new iMac) that I will use as clone drives, kept in a closet and cloned on a rotating basis. The only drive that would remain connected would be the one miniStack Time Machine / FW / USB hub.

My previous system was 4 Maxtor OneTouch II FW 400. One kept connected and used as storage for videos from TiVo. The other 2 were (are) kept in a closet and used as clone backups on a rotating basis. I connected these clone drives to my "video" drive through a FW chain. The 4th drive was (is) used as a backup for the "video" drive.

Does this sound more like a reasonable use?

Mar. 20, 2009

item.89253

Joe F

Andy's plan for use of a miniStack is fine. It's very similar to mine, except I have no FW800. I have a miniStack connected to my mini via FW400, and Time Machine backs up to the miniStack. The FW and USB hub features are useful, too. Since it's easiest to keep your TM backup disk always connected to your Mac and it's powered on whenever your Mac is on (via the miniStacks auto-power feature), you are essentially getting the extra FW and USB ports "for free." I have 2 other hard drives connected to my miniStack via FireWire. I've had up to 4 additional drives connected with no issues (one reason FW is so much better than USB). My iPod docking cables are connected to the miniStack's USB ports, one each. No problems there, either.

Mar. 21, 2009

item.89281

Alan Newman

Is there any way to daisy chain a FW400 drive between two Macs (iMac G4 and iMac G5), so that each can have their own partition for Time Machine? I don't want to dismount and swap FW cables to the drive on a nearly daily basis.

I've had two older drives recently die. I got a new 1T drive for my Intel iMac, and want use the 500G for backing up the two older, still well used Macs.

Mar. 23, 2009

item.89334

Stephen Hart

Alan Newman asked:

"Is there any way to daisy chain a FW400 drive between two Macs (iMac G4 and iMac G5), so that each can have their own partition for Time Machine?"

No problem. All you need is for the Macs to be on a LAN, either wired or wireless. I have one Time Machine drive, wired by FireWire 800 to my G5 desktop. A PowerBook that's only wirelessly connected also backs up to the same drive. And another PowerBook that's usually wired to the LAN backs up to a separate sparcebundle on the same drive.

You do need each "remote" Mac to be "connected." That is to say the Time Machine drive needs to be visible in the Finder of the remote Mac, for each backup.

The alternative, of course, is a Time Capsule.

item.89342

MacInTouch Reader

Alan Newman writes:

"Is there any way to daisy chain a FW400 drive between two Macs (iMac G4 and iMac G5), so that each can have their own partition for Time Machine? I don't want to dismount and swap FW cables to the drive on a nearly daily basis."

You definitely can't share a drive on FireWire. The solution is to attach the drive to one Mac and enable file sharing, then have the other Mac back up to it over the network. With Gigabit Ethernet, you won't notice a huge speed impact.

item.89373

Robert Mohns

Alan Newman asks:

"Is there any way to daisy chain a FW400 drive between two Macs (iMac G4 and iMac G5), so that each can have their own partition for Time Machine? I don't want to dismount and swap FW cables to the drive on a nearly daily basis."

What you're describing is a SAN, or Storage Area Network. Typically, such systems require drivers on each Mac that understand the shared device, and a dedicated storage device that also speaks the SAN protocol. An example of this is Micronet's SanCube.

These systems tend to be priced out of the range of most home users. I would consider a different approach for your Macs -- turn on file sharing on one, and use it as a Time Machine backup target for the other Mac over the network. (I have done this myself.) No special hardware or software required.

Mar. 24, 2009

item.89394

Colleen Thompson

While Alan Newman got some good answers to his question about backing up two computers to one Firewire drive, nobody addressed what I took to be his implied question, "Can you connect one Firewire drive to two computers at the same time, using Firewire?"

I believe the answer to that is "No." For details see:

http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports/firewire/topic2199.html

http://forums.macosxhints.com/archive/index.php/t-55178.html

Short answer: you *may* be able to connect them all up, but you're asking for trouble if you do so.

item.89404

Paul Takeuchi

I'm looking for short, ~2 foot, FW800 to FW800 and FW800 to FW400, thin, flexible cables. It seems like every cable I've found is too long and too stiff and my portable 2.5" FW800 drive ends up resting either upside down or leaning against a wall since the cable is too stiff to allow the drive just to lie flat on the table. I'm not sure if firewire cables just need a lot more shielding, but why can't they be nearly as thin and flexible as a usb mouse cable? If anybody knows where I can find such a cable, please let me know.

Apr. 20, 2009

item.90815

Rob Wyatt

I'm interested in purchasing a NewerTech Mini Stack v3 for my home media center as I'm looking for something compact, quiet, and low power consumption. As I'm going all digital for my home media center (no more CDs or DVDs), I plant to sync this drive periodically with my noisy LaCie RAID (RAID 5, in-house) for backup as well as a monthly off-site backup to another hard drive (safe deposit box).

I've read some rather conflicting opinions on the Mini Stack. Some people love them. Others say they're not very reliable. I'm curious to know if any Macintouch readers are using one (either v2.5 or v3, please specify) and what they think of the enclosure, reliability, noise factor, etc.

I really like the Mini Stack's form factor (I don't really care about the built-in hubs, etc) and FW800 support, but are there other drives I might consider too? FYI, I'm looking at the new 2TB version that uses the WD Caviar Green drive.

Thanks!

-Rob

Jun. 16, 2009

item.94136

David Krafchick

My brother bought me a 1TB Element as a gift. It's the first time that I was not directly involved in the decision or purchase. It is also the first time I have a hard drive without Firewire.

So I set it up and turned it on and nothing happened. I talked to my brother. He set it up in his laptop with Vista and it didn't mount there either. He then said thinks my niece was able to mount it on her Macbook.

I called WD and they said to disconnect everything and reconnect it. The on light flickered for well over 3 minutes, then it showed up on my desktop. While I was on the phone it, the drive dismounted. I traced that to the USB connection going in halfway and when I tested it, it felt very loose and unsteady. The tech offered to exchange it or have us return it to the store.

I then decided to call another friend and ask him about this. He said the the cable into the drive can be longer in cases where the connection is deeper than usual. He checked a couple of his USB printers and found the same thing. He also said that reformatting the drive as Mac might speed up the mounting.

I just tried that and it failed with a error. After several attempts, I tried reformatting the drive as MS-DOS, it is now churning away. I think because this is a very large drive, it might take a very long time to format. But I now need to return it.

Am I experiencing a lemon? Is this really normal to include a USB cable that does not go in all the way and is loose in the socket? Should it take over 3 minutes to mount? Any thoughts are welcome.

Jun. 17, 2009

item.94178

Dirk Andersen

I have the original iMac G5 and would like to put a larger capacity hard drive into it. All I can find in Apple's specs is that it currently has a 7200 rpm 160GB serial ATA drive. I have a line on the following drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB SATA2 3.5IN 8.5MS 7200RPM 32MB - but don't know if it will fit/work. Is there a good site to check this?
Thanks
D. Andersen

item.94211

David Charlap

David Krafchick wrote:

"My brother bought me a 1TB Element as a gift. ... Am I experiencing a lemon? Is this really normal to include a USB cable that does not go in all the way and is loose in the socket? Should it take over 3 minutes to mount? Any thoughts are welcome."

No this is not normal. USB cables shouldn't be so tight that they're hard to insert and remove, but they shouldn't be flopping loose either. It absolutely shouldn't take 3 minutes to mount - I usually see them mount in less than 10 seconds.

Sounds like you've got a defective product. Replace it. Hopefully, that one will work OK.

Once you get a working drive, I would agree with the WD tech that you should use Disk Utility to repartition it for APM or GUID, and then format the volume(s) as Macintosh Extended format unless you think you're going to need to attach the drive to non-Mac computers.

Jun. 18, 2009

item.94321

Sterett Prevost

Re: Dirk Anderson and original iMac G5

The original iMac G5s have an SATA I hard drive bus (1.5Gbps). The drive you found (SATA 2, 3.0GBps) should have a jumper block to set SATA I.

Jun. 19, 2009

item.94412

David Charlap

Sterett Prevost wrote:

"The original iMac G5s have an SATA I hard drive bus (1.5Gbps). The drive you found (SATA 2, 3.0GBps) should have a jumper block to set SATA I."

But test the drive without setting the jumper. SATA 2 drives normally detect SATA 1 busses and automatically fall back to the slower speed. That jumper only exists in order to be compatible with broken SATA controllers that don't implement the detection protocol properly.

Jun. 24, 2009

item.94759

Larry MacPhee

I have two different systems, similarly configured, where the external drives have started behaving oddly. One is an Intel Mac Mini, the other is a MacBook Pro. The external drives are from different vendors, both have combo USB2, Firewire 400 and Firewire 800 interfaces. Both drives use the Oxford chipset bridge. The drives have started dismounting unexpectedly. I've had 10.5.7 installed since it first came out and the problem did not start immediately after going to 10.5.7 I have tried all 3 interfaces, and the drives are equally flakey on all. I have reformatted one of the drives. That didn't fix it. Disk utility says they are ok. I use the drives with Time Machine and as my main iTunes Library. At first it seemed that changing energy saver settings (never sleep the drive or the computer) would keep it mounted, but now even that is unreliable. One of the drives dismounted in the middle of a Time Machine backup. When the drives dismount, the system is unaware of it and becomes sluggish (spinning beachball) trying to access the drive that has disappeared. When the drive is dismounted, Disk Utility doesn't see it at all. At that point, if I shut off the drive, the system announces the drive has unexpectedly disconnected and the system becomes responsive again. I have tried an SMC reset and have reinstalled the Combo 10.5.7 update. This is the only weird behavior I'm seeing. Is anyone else having external hard drive dismount problems? Since this is happening on two independent systems, I'm suspicious of a pattern emerging.

Jun. 25, 2009

item.94830

M Young

In response to Larry; I just noticed my external LaCie USB drive dismount and then mount again on my MBA. I noticed because the error message about disconnecting devices unexpectedly came up. At the same time my USB/ethernet connection is lost. The drives remount a few minutes later and ethernet is restored. There are some log entries from mds and fseventsd indicating errors during these events. It may happen right after a TM backup. Haven't noticed it on my iMac with external firewire drive as the TM and SuperDuper backup. All on 10.5.7. Crud. Is this a 10.5.7 thing?

item.94840

Colleen Thompson

to Larry MacPhee re the unmounting external drives:

I would first wonder what the drives have in common. Are they at the same location? Same power strip? (i.e. is it a power issue?) Is there any chance you mixed up the AC adapters? Many people are surprised to learn that wall warts are not interchangeable.

item.94847

Gregory Weston

Larry MacPhee notes:

"I have two different systems, similarly configured, where the external drives have started behaving oddly. One is an Intel Mac Mini, the other is a MacBook Pro. The external drives are from different vendors, both have combo USB2, Firewire 400 and Firewire 800 interfaces. Both drives use the Oxford chipset bridge."

Which Oxford set is that? The problems you go on to describe sound quite a bit like the experience I had with two consecutive miniStack v3s.

item.94857

Gary Kellogg

Larry MacPhee asked about weird random drive dismounting.

Before you try anything else, suspect cables and/or the sources of power including outlet strips and surge suppressors. Those are the simplest things to rule out, the simplest to fix, and should be eliminated before looking for more exotic causes.

item.94874

Stephen Clark

To Larry MacPhee:

You made no mention of which connection type you've been using when these incidents occur.

Do the drives spontaneously dismount if you use an atypical - for you - connection?

Are you using OEM cables or have you sought to try a higher-quality-than-supplied-with-the-device component?

What you're seeing may be caused by the cables you're using though I admit it's a long shot.

item.94882

Robin Lake

If the dismounting drives are from LaCie, the problem may very well be the power supply bricks. Expect about 1 year mean-time-to-failure.

item.94884

Randall Voth

Larry McPhee -- Have you tried renaming your drives? I've had problems when several of the drives are named the same (ie, Volume_1 or Macintosh HD). I'm also wondering about the power to your system. Have you tried a UPS?

Otherwise, I have all kinds of drive hooked up to various computers and don't experience the kinds of problems you describe.

item.94888

Henry

Regarding Larry MacPhee's drives mistery.

On the LaCie drives, it's very common to see problems like that (failure to mount, spontaneous unmount) when the power adapter is on its last legs. Maybe you're experiencing some power issue, perhaps failing power adapters, or a defective surge protector.

Good Luck.

item.94890

David Swift

Larry McPhee: AC power from the wall nice and clean?

item.94893

Peter Szolovits

I am experiencing the same problem, with an external 1TB USB (Western Digital) drive randomly disconnecting from a 5yo 2x2GHz G5 Power Mac. A couple of times in the past few months, this has actually made the drive corrupt (and unrecoverable by Disk Utility), so I've had to reformat. I use it only as a Time Machine drive, so I have not actually lost anything (except superseded backups), but it's annoying and reduces my trust in the system.

Jun. 26, 2009

item.94909

Larry MacPhee

Thanks to all the people who responded with excellent advice. In my case, the close proximity in time and the similarity of the issues made me think the problems were something more than a coincidence. I'm still not sure something external to both systems (like a power surge, for example) might have caused these issues, but problem 1: MiniStack V3 and Mac Mini: moved the internal SATA drive to an OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosure and all is now well. Didn't do anything to the drive except physically switch enclosures, and now it's 100% reliable. Drive 2, on the MacBook Pro: Removed the drive from its enclosure (a second OWC Mercury Elite Pro) to rule out the enclosure and related power supply and cables, put it in a Mac Pro. The drive was equally flaky there after a reformat, so I conclude the drive is beginning to fail. It works for a while, but will fail if I leave it on for a few hours. So was it a coincidence or not? Not sure. I've ordered a replacement drive for the second enclosure but expect it will work just fine. If not, I'll follow up. If 10.5.7 is involved, it's only in the way that it deals with flaky drives: they seem to dismount.

item.94919

Tim Wojtyniak

Gregory Weston caught my attention with

"The problems you go on to describe sound quite a bit like the experience I had with two consecutive miniStack v3s."

I had my MiniStack v3, connected to a New Mac Mini via FW 800, dismount during a Time Machine backup. The various ports on the MiniStack all continued to work, but the drive dismounted. I tried turning the power off and on, but the drive would not mount until the unit had been off for about half an hour. OWC/Newer have listened to my concerns but have no ideas. Needless to say I am not trusting my primary "backup" device right now.

Did Mr. Weston find any resolution to the problem?

item.94923

MacInTouch Reader

I have several removable drives with a Granite Digital SATA enclosure not powering on, or disconnecting at some time
was noticing that problem over months, then getting worse
changed the power supply and the problems went away.

item.94928

MacInTouch Reader

You mention that you lose your Ethernet connection at the same time. I wonder if your external drive (USB?) and your Ethernet dongle are trying to draw power from the same bus and end up causing each other trouble (loss of power), so that the drive dismounts and the Ethernet drops connection. I'm assuming that separately they work fine and neither drops out but together they have issues. Just curious.

item.94939

Karl Pingle

Have had random disconnect issues with two drives. One is
an ancient FireWire 400 external drive. I assumed it was
dying. There was an external DVD reader/writer in the
chain between it and the computer. I moved the drive
to be first in line and have had no more problems with it.

The second was a pair of new USB drives I use for backup.
Occasionally superduper could not find the one connected (the other is always in a safe deposit box) when it was plugged into a powered USB hub. I moved it to be plugged into one of the USB ports on the back of my IMac and have had no more problems with it.

People having the problem might consider connecting
their drives differently and see if that helps.

item.94948

MacInTouch Reader

I need to buy a new *external* hard drive. After looking over all the reader reports on the subject here, it seems like nothing is safe. For years (decades?) I've been a Lacie man. The drive I have right now is a Lacie, and it's experiencing some of the early signs of power supply failure (based on others' reports here). But I've had it 5 years, so I'm OK with that. However, judging by the reports, Lacie is to be avoided, as is Western Digital, and now Seagate. So what does the MacInTouch community recommend at this point?

Jun. 27, 2009

item.94963

MacInTouch Reader

The reader seeking (sorry...) a new external hard drive might want to consider Samsung's line of externals. They have models ranging from credit-card-sized to "Passport"-sized and capacities up to (for now) 500 GB in the U.S. and 1.5 TB in Europe.

I have no connection with Samsung other than as a satisfied customer of many of their products, including their hard drives, which run cooler and quieter than many of their brethren. They're the only drives I choose when I get a choice. They also provide a three-year warranty.

item.94974

Fred Moore

For the anonymous reader who wants advice on quality hard drives/enclosures because 'nothing is safe', have a look at this thread here on MacInTouch: Hard Drive Enclosures.

I posted an entry on May 10, 2008, recommending Wiebetech enclosures. They are some of the best made -- slightly more expensive, but the quality is worth it. I buy empty enclosures and install Hitachi drives. I save a few bucks doing it myself, but you don't have to.

On May 12, 2008, Mario De Pillis recommended Glyph products, which are well respected and have no wall wart.

item.94976

Gregory Weston

Tim Wojtyniak asks (about my miniStack v3 issues):

"Did Mr. Weston find any resolution to the problem?"

The only resolution I found was to return the (replacement) unit for a refund and buy a new drive that didn't have the Oxford 924 chipset. I don't know that the chipset was the problem, but on the first the bridge was confirmed to have failed and the second exhibited exactly the same symptoms. Like Tim, I had the drive as a Time Machine target. The replacement got some heavy testing - several sessions of multi-hour continuous writes - before I let it serve in that role.

item.94981

Harold Zeh

MacInTouch Reader asks for recommendations for an external drive. They mention avoidance of Western Digital drives as one tip they heard of. Maybe their enclosures (a subject I can not speak to,) but certainly not the drives.

Since 1995, every Western Digital drive I have owned - some twenty now - still works. In that same span, every Maxtor drive - more than five - has died. Every Seagate still works. Did not have many I.B.M.s and decendants, but got a mixed bag of noisy results. So now I am sticking with 100% Western Digital, especially for laptops and portable externals as they are very quiet.

Insofar as the external case, I have never had one of the house brands from Other World Computing fail. They use the Oxford chipsets, which seem reliable. Got a few NewerTech MiniStack v3, but they are off most of the time, relegated to once a week clones, because of the noisy fans.

To sum up, the case is as important as the drive. I always purchase them separately so I know what's in there.

item.94983

M Young

A MacInTouch reader asked,

"You mention that you lose your Ethernet connection at the same time. I wonder if your external drive (USB?) and your Ethernet dongle are trying to draw power from the same bus and end up causing each other trouble (loss of power), so that the drive dismounts and the Ethernet drops connection. I'm assuming that separately they work fine and neither drops out but together they have issues. Just curious."

The Air only has one USB port and I use a Griffin splitter for the USB dongle and the Iomega eGo drive. It has not been a problem until the recent "unexpected" dismounts. As I noted there were some mds errors in the log at the same time. I rebuilt the Spotlight indices on the drive (which has two partitions; one for TM and one for SuperDuper). It was fine for a day but now I see the same/similar mds errors in the logs but have not had the unexpected disconnect box appear...yet. However, given the coincidence with the TM backup (heavy disk activity) maybe you are on to something. I have no idea how much power the ethernet dongle pulls.

item.95042

David Charlap

M Young wrote:

"The Air only has one USB port and I use a Griffin splitter for the USB dongle and the Iomega eGo drive. ..."

Splitter? What is this? Surely it's not a simple passive wire-splitter. That would violate the USB spec big-time.

If you're using an un-powered hub, that might be the problem. Bus-powered devices (aside from simple things like keyboards and mice) rarely work with non-powered hubs. If you swap it for a powered hub (which will, of course, mean you have to plug it in somewhere), that might make your drive work more reliably.

Jun. 29, 2009

item.95023

Art Ginsburg

Re:

"So what does the MacInTouch community recommend at this point?"

A while back, after three failures of either the power brick, or the bridge board, within an Accomdata case (one of the 'house brands' at the former Comp USA), I discovered the most wonderful ICYDock line of enclosures and drive trays.

I use two ICYDock 559 series enclosures, and routinely swap 4 different trays among them. The Enclosures are available in several different bay configurations, with several different interface boards; my experience is solely with the single-bay, Firewire/USB2 config, using Firewire. I have never been anything but happy with these enclosures, and have never seen so much as a burp from them.

For drives, I'm guilty of buying "whatever is the cheapest around", but I have had considerable success in these enclosures, and several other systems, including my EFiX based Fake Mac, with Samsung OEM drives, specifically the Spinpoint T1 series. Cheap. They work. They mount when I ask, and don't lose data, and I don't notice them as faster, or slower, than anything else I've used.

I can't tell you I don't have 3 or 4 year old Maxtors, WD's, or Seagates out in the field, spinning all the time, but the way drives change/manufacturing "improves" and tech "advances", these "ol' reliable" drives may well have been manufactured quite differently than they would be today.

So, at the moment, and at least for 48 months or so, I'm a happy guy with an ICYDock enclosure and Samsung SATA drives.

item.95064

Ken Spencer

I have been using Western Digital 3.5" drives for years, most of them installed in MacAlly cases, and (knock on wood) have never had a failure. I have also bought only WD drives for all my Macs going back to a 7200 and for WIN gaming machines I have built, with no failures. I have had some WD Scorpio failures, however in 2.5" laptop drives, but not any more than with similar IBM and Fujitsu drives which have failed.

item.95067

M Young

David Charlap noticed my poor choice of words; referring to the Griffin ultra-slim 2-port usb hub has a "splitter". I didn't want a powered hub, to keep clutter and cords to a minimum. I understand the issues with the limited power available from the USB port but I thought the USB Ethernet adapter wouldn't draw much current. However, I can't find specifications for the adapter or for the Iomega drive (thanks Iomega).

item.95070

MacInTouch Reader

Ugh, the Air is a complicated beast when it comes to peripherals, especially the first-generation [model]. I am still puzzled why Apple couldn't have popped in a second USB or a FireWire port. Hooking stuff up to an Apple display and then trying to use their CD/DVD drive is a complete failure.
The Air is best without attached peripherals.
I'm hoping a touch screen, keyboardless AirBook appears
but with FireWire/USB/display/Bluetooth in it. It would be nice to put this into "desktop mode" and have it be a slim desktop.
I used to do this with a 12" G4 very effectively.

Jun. 30, 2009

item.95120

Sterett Prevost

Re: Western Digital drives

Back in the day when I managed two Apple-authorized service depts, and the PPC Performa/Power Mac was king, I used to see a boatload of WD Caviar HD failures, to the exclusion of other brands. This led me to recommend Quantum (Maxtor) and IBM for quite a while. Lately, the maintenance reliability of WD drives seems to have improved substantially, and I now have several of them in various flavors (external cases, laptops, desktops, etc). What a difference a day makes!
;-)

item.95142

E T

So all the information regarding the reliability of external storage systems is extremely useful.

I am wondering, however, what MacInTouch readers consider the most stalwart AND the most quiet systems available.

E-Sata is the best connection, but no noise is the sine qua non.

Thanks.

Jul. 13, 2009

item.95821

MacInTouch Reader

Am I missing something, or has it been impossible to format an external USB drive using Disk Utility since 10.4.6?

I get errors each time I try.

How is possible that Apple wouldn't have fixed this problem by 10.5.7?

Jul. 14, 2009

item.95893

Colleen Thompson

MacInTouch Reader said

"Am I missing something, or has it been impossible to format an external USB drive using Disk Utility since 10.4.6? I get errors each time I try. How is possible that Apple wouldn't have fixed this problem by 10.5.7?"

Don't assume it's universal. I format drives all the time. Have you tried more than one external? Perhaps it's your drive. Have you tried not just Erase, but Partition, choosing one of the Apple partition schemes (GUID or APM)? It could conceivably be something in your system. Try reformatting the drive on another Mac...basic rule of troubleshooting: change one variable at a time.

Jul. 15, 2009

item.95924

MacInTouch Reader

To Coleen Thompson re:

"Don't assume it's universal. I format drives all the time."

Oh, by no means did I make that assumption. The hard drive in question is from OWC, which generally sells me very compatible drives. I'm referring to a problem documented on the web, here:
  http://tinyurl.com/5shb5g

Anyway, I'll keep trying.

[See also G-Technology FAQ quoted below, which describes a Mac OS X bug that apparently has yet to be fixed.... -MacInTouch]

10. I can't format my Drive via USB connection on my Mac.I just get the Beach Ball
There is a known issue with Mac OS X 10.4.6 and 10.4.7 when attempting to format via a USB connection. When clicking "ERASE" in Disk Utility all you get is the spinning Beach Ball.

Solution: Use a Mac running OS X 10.4.5 or earlier, or use the FireWire ports on your unit if available.

Jul. 16, 2009

item.96013

MacInTouch Reader

MacInTouch Reader said:

"Am I missing something, or has it been impossible to format an external USB drive using Disk Utility since 10.4.6? I get errors each time I try. How is possible that Apple wouldn't have fixed this problem by 10.5.7?"

This is a common issue, and it is related to the disk's Partition Map Scheme.

Open Disk Utility, and click on the root drive in the left sidebar that you want to format, then on the right click on Partition. Select 1 partition as the Volume Scheme, and then click Options... below. That will allow you to select GUID.

Format, and you're golden.

Jul. 18, 2009

item.96145

MacInTouch Reader

Just FYI: My external USB formatting problem is not solved by (1) selecting the root drive, (2) selecting 1 partition, and (3) GUID under Options, despite the optimistic MacInTouch reader who suggested I'd be "golden." I still get the I/O error message in Disk Utility. If I can't format it under Windoze, I'll take a sledge hammer to the disk. :)

Jul. 21, 2009

item.96266

MacInTouch Reader

I'd like to know if anyone could advise the best way to manage the computer resource regarding overall energy conservation and longevitiy of the internal drives and the computer itself.

More specificallly is it best to leave the computer on 24/7, or completely shut down the computer during periods of non-use (such as overnight, weekends, vacations etc.) or simply use the Energy settings to put the display and hard drives to sleep? My setup is a G5 1.8 DP (Tiger OS) with two internal drives and 20" LCD monitor.

Any suggestions or guidance would be most appreciated.

[One thing to note is that Mac OS X does some "housekeeping" during startup (e.g. cleaning up system error logs), which argues at least for periodic reboots. -Ric Ford]

Jul. 31, 2009

item.96775

Erik Rieselbach

At my office we have a 2006 (Intel Core Duo) Mac Mini with a failing hard drive. I'm tempted to replace it with a 7200 RPM drive, but I wonder if it will be prone to overheating. Does anyone have any experience with faster drives in Minis?

item.96814

Raymond Cheung

I have 7200rpm drives in both of my Mini's almost ever since I got them over a year ago and there is absolutely no problems with heat.

item.96819

David Schoonmaker

I have 7200-RPM Hitachi Travelstars running in two dual-core Minis--one for a year and a half, the other for 10 months. No problems with overheating in either one.

item.96821

Charles F

I upgraded my early 2009 Mac Mini with 4GB ram and a 320 GB 7200 rpm Seagate drive from OWC/Macsales (not associated with them, just a happy customer) right after I bought it, and have had no problems with heat

item.96823

Craig Treleaven

Just over a month ago, I had to replace my Core Duo Mini's hard drive. I put a 320 GB 7200 rpm drive in mine. No heat issues that I've noticed...just a nice speed improvement!

Aug. 1, 2009

item.96826

Gregory Weston

Erik Rieselbach asks:

"At my office we have a 2006 (Intel Core Duo) Mac Mini with a failing hard drive. I'm tempted to replace it with a 7200 RPM drive, but I wonder if it will be prone to overheating. Does anyone have any experience with faster drives in Minis?"

I'm under the impression that it's been demonstrated by multiple sources (including, if I recall correctly, MacInTouch) that one of the best ways to speed up a mini is to boot from an external drive. Unless you're really hurting for space, I'd definitely consider a 3.5" drive in an external case in preference to replacing the internal notebook drive.

[Notebook/Mini drives have made remarkable performance gains in recent years, so an internal 2.5" drive may now be faster than an external FireWire 800 drive and certainly faster than external FireWire 400 or USB 2. We have some benchmark results for various drives. For the very fastest storage performance with a Mini, we hacked in an eSATA connector in our Mini Monster disk project, which combines 3.5" hard drives for maximum performance with the SATA connection that provides enough throughput to take advantage of that performance. -MacInTouch]

item.96829

Eric Shoe

Run the OS on an external FireWire hard drive and use the internal hard drive for storage. Will blow your mind on how much difference it makes.

item.96831

Bob Murphy

Erik Rieselbach asks whether putting a 7200 RPM drive in a Mac Mini is likely to cause overheating.

Minis use 2.5" SATA drives also used in laptops, which also are sensitive to overheating. So if you look around for cool-running laptop drives, you should be okay.

I am just about to install NewEgg's top-rated Mini-compatible 7200 RPM drive in my MacBook - it's a Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB model. If you go to NewEgg and search its reviews for "Mini", there are over a dozen from people who put that unit in a Mac Mini and they all give it 4-5 out of 5 "eggs", with no complaints about overheating.

Incidentally, this is replacing a Hitachi 7200 RPM drive that failed hard and took a lot of data with it. So you do want to be careful about drive quality and making backups.

item.96832

Jeff Bagby

Re: 7200 rpm drives in a Mac Mini.

I have a Hitachi HTS723232L9A360 7k320 (320 GB, 7200 rpm SATA) drive in my Mac Mini (Mid 2007) 2 GHz Core2Duo. The drive is a little louder than the old stock Hitachi 5400 rpm 120 GB, but there are no issues with heat. (By "louder" I mean there is some noise. Silence is my benchmark and goal, which is why I love the Mac Mini).

iStat from iSlayer reports the HD is 119F and the main fan is at 1786 rpm. This Mac Mini is currently uploading a file via Firefox, creating this note with Safari, synching my Mail.app with my Exchange Server, and streaming lossless iTunes off my file server. The fans do rev up when encoding H.264 or running Handbrake, but no more so than when I had the stock hard drive.

item.96833

Paul Huang

I have installed 7200RPM drives in dozens of Mac Minis. The drives are either 320GB or 500GB. No problems whatsoever. I have noticed that the 2009 Mac mini's fan does not kick in as often as the old unit.

I do notice that the 500GB/7200RPM drives (regardless of brand) make more vibration than the 5400RPM version, which makes me slightly nervous.

item.96838

Stanley Weber

I have been using a 320 GB Hitachi Travelstar 7200 RPM in a Core 2 Duo for about 2 months. This mini sits in a room that gets the afternoon sun and I was worried about the temperature. From the start I elevated the fan speed using smcFanControl. It is a little noisy, but the temperature has never exceeded 130? and it only reaches that temperature for a few minutes when it is backing itself up.

item.96845

Erik Rieselbach

Thanks to all for the thumbs-up re 7200rpm drives in a Mini. I've gone ahead and ordered a Scorpio Black.

item.96852

Robert Mohns

An option for the adventurous is the Monster Mini approach:

http://www.macintouch.com/specialreports/minimonster/phase2.html

Granted you can kiss your warranty goodbye, but 2 years and 9 months later, the Monster is still running strong!

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