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Old Jan 26, 2013, 03:06 PM   #1
Paulyboy
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Can a bad port on a USB hub cause problems?

I recently had an issue where my iMac would get stuck on the gray screen with the spinning thing whenever I had to restart. I couldn't even boot into safe mode. So I did the first thing you're supposed to do in situations like this I shut down the iMac and unplugged all external peripherals except for my keyboard and mouse then tried restarting again. The computer restarted fine after that and also seemed to be operating smoother then recently. So I then proceeded to plug in all my external peripherals one by one in hopes of identifying which one was causing the problem. I have a six port USB hub plugged into one of my USB ports which itself has three devices plugged into it. Ultimately I wasn't able to identify which peripheral is causing the problem and was suddenly able to successfully restart my iMac with everything plugged in. However I had changed which ports I was using on the USD hub.

So my question is could the problem have stemmed from one of the ports on the USB hub that I'm no longer using? Can ports on USB hubs start to go bad and cause problems like that without the whole hub being ruined?

My first guess was one of the three external hard drives I have connected to my iMac but that doesn't seem to be the case so this is the only thing left that I can think of. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

-PN
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 05:15 PM   #2
RedCroissant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulyboy View Post
I recently had an issue where my iMac would get stuck on the gray screen with the spinning thing whenever I had to restart. I couldn't even boot into safe mode. So I did the first thing you're supposed to do in situations like this – I shut down the iMac and unplugged all external peripherals except for my keyboard and mouse then tried restarting again. The computer restarted fine after that and also seemed to be operating smoother then recently. So I then proceeded to plug in all my external peripherals one by one in hopes of identifying which one was causing the problem. I have a six port USB hub plugged into one of my USB ports which itself has three devices plugged into it. Ultimately I wasn't able to identify which peripheral is causing the problem and was suddenly able to successfully restart my iMac with everything plugged in. However I had changed which ports I was using on the USD hub.

So my question is could the problem have stemmed from one of the ports on the USB hub that I'm no longer using? Can ports on USB hubs start to go bad and cause problems like that without the whole hub being ruined?

My first guess was one of the three external hard drives I have connected to my iMac but that doesn't seem to be the case so this is the only thing left that I can think of. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

-PN
Yes, I think one of the usb ports on the hub could be a problem and perhaps you should consider getting an AC-powered hub as opposed to a bus-powered one. The reason is because regardless of the number of usb ports you have, you're still sharing the 480Mb/s over all those usb ports(and the requirement that the devices being connected must also be powered by the usb port could decrease the life of the usb port itself.

Your machine is awesome by the way but also getting "older" and continued use of the usb ports in that manner might result in serious failures. The reason I say this is because my 2009 20" 2.66GHz iMac came with a 320GB HDD and of course, was not enough space for long. So I kept buying external HDDs and eventually noticed lag, startup problems, little errors. I also used a hub and still had my iPod, iPhone plugged in as well. At one point all the ports on my iMac were being used and that negatively impacted my system performance.

So to get away from the need for externals, I upgraded my HDD from the 320GB to a 3TB drive and moved all my information to the internal drive. I have more than 1TB free space and could not be happier with the way my computer rebounded after the change.

So I don't know what capacity your current internal HDD is, but I would recommend upgrading it to a high-capacity drive and get rid of the externals(except for one that is AC-powered for backups of necessary information). I think you'll see a performance boost with the change even if you go with a drive that's the same speed.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 01:25 PM   #3
Paulyboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCroissant View Post
Yes, I think one of the usb ports on the hub could be a problem and perhaps you should consider getting an AC-powered hub as opposed to a bus-powered one. The reason is because regardless of the number of usb ports you have, you're still sharing the 480Mb/s over all those usb ports(and the requirement that the devices being connected must also be powered by the usb port could decrease the life of the usb port itself.

Your machine is awesome by the way but also getting "older" and continued use of the usb ports in that manner might result in serious failures. The reason I say this is because my 2009 20" 2.66GHz iMac came with a 320GB HDD and of course, was not enough space for long. So I kept buying external HDDs and eventually noticed lag, startup problems, little errors. I also used a hub and still had my iPod, iPhone plugged in as well. At one point all the ports on my iMac were being used and that negatively impacted my system performance.

So to get away from the need for externals, I upgraded my HDD from the 320GB to a 3TB drive and moved all my information to the internal drive. I have more than 1TB free space and could not be happier with the way my computer rebounded after the change.

So I don't know what capacity your current internal HDD is, but I would recommend upgrading it to a high-capacity drive and get rid of the externals(except for one that is AC-powered for backups of necessary information). I think you'll see a performance boost with the change even if you go with a drive that's the same speed.
Thanks for your response.

My hub is actually powered but you're probably right about using so many external hard drives. The internal hard drive is 1 TB but I use EyeTV for recording a lot of programs off my cable box so I use one external hard drive just to store those and another one for my Time Machine backups. The third one is just sort of a miscellaneous drive although admittedly nothing on it is all that important. All of these hard drives, including my internal one, are 1 TB. I guess I probably would be doing myself a favor if I replaced all of them with an external 3 TB drive or something like that.

I have no clue how I would go about replacing the internal drive on an iMac. It seems like it might be easier just getting a new iMac with a much bigger internal hard drive but I'm really not ready for that quite yet.

Aside from the three external hard drives the only other third-party USB devices I have attached are a USB desktop microphone and the aforementioned EyeTV.

In any case everything seems to be working again now but once again I realize sooner or later I'm going to have to get one big external drive. With that I wouldn't even need a hub anymore unless I added something else.

Thanks again for your help.

-PN
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 04:18 PM   #4
RedCroissant
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Originally Posted by Paulyboy View Post
Thanks for your response.

My hub is actually powered but you're probably right about using so many external hard drives. The internal hard drive is 1 TB but I use EyeTV for recording a lot of programs off my cable box so I use one external hard drive just to store those and another one for my Time Machine backups. The third one is just sort of a miscellaneous drive although admittedly nothing on it is all that important. All of these hard drives, including my internal one, are 1 TB. I guess I probably would be doing myself a favor if I replaced all of them with an external 3 TB drive or something like that.

I have no clue how I would go about replacing the internal drive on an iMac. It seems like it might be easier just getting a new iMac with a much bigger internal hard drive but I'm really not ready for that quite yet.

Aside from the three external hard drives the only other third-party USB devices I have attached are a USB desktop microphone and the aforementioned EyeTV.

In any case everything seems to be working again now but once again I realize sooner or later I'm going to have to get one big external drive. With that I wouldn't even need a hub anymore unless I added something else.

Thanks again for your help.

-PN
Well, I took my iMac to BestBuy and they replaced the HDD for $50. Since I had the original drive, I just purchased a HDD docking station and cloned that drive over to the new 3TB inside the machine and everything worked perfectly. Sure, I had to buy the drive, but a 3TB internal drive for $170(at the time) was a good deal and you should be able to do better than that now.

What you could also do is get a previous generation Mac mini and connect that to your iMac(since it can also be used as an external display). That will give you extra space, a more recent computer, and then you could use the iMac mostly as an entertainment hub.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 12:39 PM   #5
Paulyboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCroissant View Post
Well, I took my iMac to BestBuy and they replaced the HDD for $50. Since I had the original drive, I just purchased a HDD docking station and cloned that drive over to the new 3TB inside the machine and everything worked perfectly. Sure, I had to buy the drive, but a 3TB internal drive for $170(at the time) was a good deal and you should be able to do better than that now.

What you could also do is get a previous generation Mac mini and connect that to your iMac(since it can also be used as an external display). That will give you extra space, a more recent computer, and then you could use the iMac mostly as an entertainment hub.
I didn't realize Best Buy does things like that. That isn't really that expensive either! Thanks for the suggestions!

-PN
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