Firewire hard drive question—okay to use?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by elvirav, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. elvirav macrumors member

    elvirav

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    #1
    I know I'm dredging up ancient history, but a long time ago there were all these reports of people's Firewire hard drives being damaged or unreadable after hooking up to a Mac with Panther. (This was when Panther first came out.)

    This issue has been resolved now with Tiger, right? So my old 80 GB Fantom Firewire hard drive will be okay to hook up to my Mac Mini running Tiger? (I'm sorry for being so woefully out of the loop. I have done web searches, really.)

    I got the hard drive around the time that Panther was introduced, but since I was using Jaguar on an older G4 at the time, the whole "losing your hard drive" issue wasn't a concern. But now it is. Just want to make sure it's okay. Thanks for any information you can give me!
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #2
    Impossible to say.
    Contact the drive's manufacturer or google to see if there is a firmware upgrade required for the FW/IDE bridge board in the drive case.
     
  3. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000

    SpaceMagic

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    #3
    The problem arose while installing Panther when an external was plugged in. As far as just "plugging in" the drive - it'll be absolutely fine.

    (Should add a disclaimer, just in case! Although i'd say its 99% unlikely anything bad will happen - If it does I cannot accept any responsibility.)
     
  4. elvirav thread starter macrumors member

    elvirav

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    #4
    Thanks for your advice! It was very helpful.

    Well, part of what I'd like to do with this drive is have it plugged in all the time (even when the Mac reboots). If there is some question whether or not it can do this without getting fried, I guess I'll not use it in that manner.

    I checked Fantom's site for firmware updates, but it didn't have anything that pertained to Tiger—just Panther.
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #5
    So check your drive and see if the firmware is up to date.
    Then plug in and go.
    Just remember to unplug all externals when doing a System update.
    Also, don't hot-plug your Firewire - shut the machine and drive off before plugging/unplugging cables.
     
  6. blodwyn macrumors 65816

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    Portland, Oregon
    #6
    You'll be fine leaving it plugged in all the time. Both my iMac and PB have a FW drive attached. I haven't unplugged for reboots, system updates, or any other reason (except when traveling with the PB), and I've not had a single problem.
     
  7. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #7
    Yes, that is true in your case, on a sample size of one.

    It has been widely reported that other people with older FW drives have had major data loss when upgrading their OS while the FW drive was attached.
     
  8. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #8
    It's been a while, so could be remembering the info from WiebeTech's whitepaper and other sources on the web wrong, but I'm pretty sure the problems with hot plugging were worked out by better power filtering circuitry in newer Macs. Since it sounds like the poster isn't using an older G4 anymore, I don't think this is something to worry about. Regardless, they were more often associated with bus-powered devices.

    I've hot plugged non-bus-powered FW400 enclosures hundreds of times without problem, personally, but if you'd like to hot plug and are REALLY worried, you can always get either a powered hub or a special cable that some companies sell that have no connection on the power pins, even though they look like a regular, power-carrying FW400 cable.
     
  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #9
    The power is live on the Mac's pins, whether or not the device is bus-powered. Accidentally plugging in the FW plug upside down (easy to do with just a little push) or cockeyed, is enough to bridge the power line to a data line. Ask a customer of mine how long it takes to fry both an eMac and a Panasonic camera -- $1,400 damage.
     
  10. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

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    #10

    .............................OUCH!

    See, part of me want's to say "I can't believe that someone would actually sit there and brute force a Firewire 400 cable in the wrong way!" and part of me actually believes it.

    But you'd think that this would happen more with USB port devices rather than firewire.
     
  11. elvirav thread starter macrumors member

    elvirav

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    #11
    Ooh ooh! Interesting new tidbits of information!

    Okay, more about my unique situation:

    Yeah, I have a G4 Mac Mini, and I intend to use this drive with the Mini. Also, I have an old G4 (circa 2001). Should I play it safe and not use this older drive on the old G4 (at least not having it continually plugged in)?

    I already have several new Firewire drives hooked up to the Mini. In fact, the Mini boots from a MiniStack (macsales.com) all the time. Love it. I also have a recently-purchased Seagate 400 GB drive (the Mini will boot from that too!). ;) And there's even an old SmartDisk 80 GB drive, but I've checked and as far as I can tell, it's on the "safe" list of Firewire drives not affected by this problem. (And so far it's worked fine hooked up to the Mini.)

    So that just leaves the old Fantom drive, which I bought probably around 2002-2003. At the time I was using Jaguar so I could use the drive with no worries, but now I'm up to Tiger and am feeling paranoid. I have hooked it up to the Mini just to get all the data off of it. And so I'm wondering what to do with it next. I had thought to either sell it or attach it to a PC if I can't be confident that it'll work okay with the Mini without worries. But of course I'd prefer to keep it with the Mini.

    So, are you saying that I should just go for it and use it on the Mini? All the Firewire drives use external power sources (not bus powered). I'll keep my eye on the hotplugging thing as well. (Yes, I do that all the time, but I certainly don't "force" it and usually visually check it to make sure it's going in the right way.)

    Thanks again for all this info.
     
  12. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #12
    Oh, I'm quite sure the fellow managed to Jam it in backwards--depending on the construction of the port, it's not that hard to force the D-shaped flanges apart, at which point you just have a flat connector that's all too easy to shove in backwards. The average USB connector is acutally harder to do backwards, because of the flat plastic block that keeps it from going in upside-down.

    Question, though: How is not hot-plugging going to protect you from this particular mode of failure? If you hook it up backwards and don't notice, your stuff is just as fried the second you turn the Mac on...

    Personally, I consider this to be a very minor risk if you're at all careful with your hardware--worth it for the convienence of hot-plugging for me, anyway (though if I owned a $1400 camera, I might reconsider). I suppose if you wanted to be particularly paranoid, you'd leave a cable (with no power pins in it) connected to the Mac at all times, then only hot plug the other end into your hardware.

    Everybody has a level of paranoia their budget, particular hardware setup, and level of care makes reasonable. What's good caution for one person is a waste of precious time for another.

    In my case, even if I were to toast my 4-year-old MiniDV camera, it wouldn't break the bank, and the time spend closing applications and restarting over and over isn't worth it any more than the $100 extended warranty--my time is more valuable than the very small chance I'll break my camera. Likewise, were I to fry the bridge board in a $40 FW400 case, it'd suck, but it's not worth the repeated shutdowns and restarts given the way I work.
     

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