A Caution about Formatting Storage Drives AFPS

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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In the last two weeks, I've had issues with two different external drives that I've formatted AFPS.

The first was a 1TB Western Digital My Passport SSD and the second was a 1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe.

The Western Digital drive started acting in ways that made me think that it was defective. Indeed, at one point it failed a WD Utilities drive test. I returned it, but I'm no longer certain that the drive was the problem. The issue may have been AFPS, or the way that I set up the drive for AFPS.

I replaced the WD drive with a Samsung 970 NVMe. This drive comes bare, so I initialised and then formatted it Extended (Journaled). It worked fine until I attempted to reformat it AFPS, which turned out to be very problematic. It's now formatted Extended (Journaled) again, and working properly, but it's taken me the better part of two days to get to this point.

I'm interested in knowing whether my experience is unique, or whether others have run into difficulties with external drives that are formatted AFPS.

I should add that I also have a 500GB Samsung T5 that I've formatted AFPS and have had no problems with whatever.

As part of getting the Samsung fixed, I started the following brief thread (4 posts) which explains the problem and how I managed to fix it. It also talks about the problem with the WD drive, and about a page on WD's site on formatting its drives for AFPS: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/problem-formatting-samsung-970-evo-plus-nvme-ssd.2170521/
 
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IngerMan

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I formatted an External Crucial MX500 SSD and a WD 2TB (.4GB Partition) in AFPS for a short time. I used CCC on the WD and booted from it. It was so slow I thought I was going to have to do a hard reboot, it was like 1984 all over again.

Then I checked the Crucial external SSD disk bench marks and it was all over the place on write, read seemed ok.

It was all I needed to see and formatted them back to the trust worthy Mac Journal Extended.

Not a comprehensive test, I just seen, disliked and moved on.

Edit: I stated above it was myCrucial SSD, after more testing I realized it was my Samsung T5 that I saw the drop in speed which I explain in Post #9. the issue has nothing to do with APFS.
 
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Fawkesguyy

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Nov 19, 2018
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I haven't noticed any issues with APFS on my SSD's, but when checking on the G-Technology site to see if there was a firmware update for my old 3TB spinner, I ran across this:

"For the bulk of G-Technology products we use mechanical or rotational hard drives. The Apple File System (APFS) that was developed and released alongside Mac OS 10.12 is designed to work best with smaller capacity solid state drives (SSD) that are primarily for OS usage.

The main benefit of APFS is the ability to use its "copy to write" snapshotting feature which enhances performance copying large amounts of data. However, this is not a process where rotational media can hold up at the same level as an SSD can.

When dealing with high capacity rotational and RAID controlled devices, the older HFS+ aka Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system is the recommendation of G-Technology"

https://support-en.g-technology.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/24676
 
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DYER

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Oct 4, 2008
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Interesting thread. I've got a 2TB Samsung 860 Evo as my media drive hooked up to the new mini using APFS and have had no issues as of yet. Seems snappy enough.

Will definitely keep an eye on it now.
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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I recommend sticking with HFS+ for ALL external drives, even those that have copies of High Sierra and Mojave on them...
 

F-Train

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I recommend sticking with HFS+ for ALL external drives, even those that have copies of High Sierra and Mojave on them...
I think that it depends on what you're using the drive for. I'm using these drives in a way in which AFPS should be superior to HFS+ when it comes to performance. After all, increasing performance is the main reason for using SSDs. Unfortunately, I haven't come across tests that substantiate and measure the performance difference, but this mostly means that I should do some testing myself. Also, because I back up everything that I have on external SSDs, I'm not concerned about data loss.

I do intend to take another shot at formatting the Samsung 970 to AFPS, although this time I'm going to try using Disk Utility Toolbar > Edit > Convert to AFPS rather than the graphical user interface.

I'm troubled that I ran into problems with AFPS with two SSDs, from two different makers, in a row, but I can't say with assurance that AFPS was the culprit because there are too many potential reasons for the problems, and I'm mindful of the fact that I have had no issues with a Samsung T5.

I'm running Windows 10 via Boot Camp, and I'd be more gun shy had I not discovered that the Windows Command Line, and DISKPART > Clean in particular, proved to be an easy fix when it came to establishing that the SSD and enclosure are healthy, and in getting the SSD working again. For that idea, I'm indebted to a 2008 MacRumors thread, where the idea of using Windows (or Linux) to reformat a drive that was having problems in macOS was mooted. I was sceptical when I read that suggestion, but I was running out of ideas, and it worked.
 
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astrorider

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Sep 25, 2008
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After a few months use I've had no problems with a Thunderbolt 3 APFS external used as a boot drive between a couple computers. Mojave, which I needed, forced me into switching my external boot drive to APFS, but so far I'm glad it did.

APFS's copy-on-write feature has been the biggest improvement for me. In one case, I had about 300GB worth of small photo libraries I was merging together, and being able to duplicate the target/master library before each merge without taking up additional drive space, meant I could easily roll back to earlier revisions if something went wrong. With the amount of drive space I had free when beginning the project, I couldn't have done it with HFS without moving the revisions off to external drives, which would have been very time consuming between library revisions.

For all I know APFS could have failure risks that HFS didn't, but really drives can fail in an instant for any number of reasons so the need for good backups hasn't changed. I can only say a few months into my APFS conversion it's been solid in my use, and it's already saved me a ton of time duplicating and working with big files.
 

IngerMan

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Feb 21, 2011
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After reading some positive posts with APFS and SSD I decided to give it another try on my external SSD's using Samsung T5 and my Crucial MX500 both 500GB size.

What I have just realized from testing is the T5 slows down in use, regardless of APFS or Journaled. If I run consecutive disk bench marks the T5 will slow down from 440GB Writes to 300GB. This is not the case on my MX500. I have one longer disk marking app that showed lower numbers than other bench marking apps and this made me conduct more tests.

I will say the T5 Random writes are higher in APFS then Journaled per my tests, by a large margin.

iDiskMark2 Mac Mini.png


I took 47.5GB of random files and wrote to the Crucial MX500 and then the T5 posting the time below.

Crucial 47.5GB Write.png Crucial

Samsung T5 47.5GB Write.png T5

I Thought the T5 was a better SSD but for my setup it is not as fast. Of course the T5 has the advantage of being mobile in the great enclosure.

AJA bench marking consecutive runs

T5 first run.png T5 first run
T5 4th run.png T5 4th run

My setup on the MX500 has no enclosure and might be an advantage?


IMG_1485.jpeg

Im still very happy with the T5 but for future external storage on my desk I am going to go with the Crucial MX500 vs T5.


Edit: Since I did more extensive testing on my external SSD's with APFS I have not seen any issues Journal vs APFS. From my reading it only offers more benefits that I am happy to adopt.
 
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IngerMan

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Well I just waisted a few hours of my time yesterday testing out external hard drives. It turns out the T5 is as good as the specs say, I just needed to do a firmware update. See my post below on another thread.




Hate to mention the obvious but have you T5 owners checked that you have the latest Firmware installed?

Just a thought as their seems to be people with and without the issues.

Link Here - Scroll to bottom.
Thank you for the Tip Dr. Stealth.

I was running in Journal Encrypted for a week with no eject issues but It was only writing 300 mb/sec and disk marks would show that after the 1st or 2nd run it would slow down on the bench mark from 400's to 300.

Yesterday I reformatted to APFS encrypted and the write speeds was identical as Journaled. But I had an eject during sleep overnight so it brought me to this thread again.

I just downloaded the latest firmware and tested the disk speed and it has improved. I am hoping the firmware update also fixes the eject issue. If not I am confident I can run in Journal extended encrypted with out issues.

I will report back later of any eject issues.

Thank you again. I have new confidence in my T5.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 11.34.15 AM.png
 
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AlaskaMoose

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Apr 26, 2008
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Some of the WD hard drives are NTFS formatted (you can read the files, but not write to it). If such is the case, you can find the details about how to erase and reformat them in the included instruction files about the Mac and PC that are included in the drive. I recently received a 4TB WD My Passport from B&H as a promo for buying a Canon 135mm f/2L lens, and had to do the following:

Connect the hard drive to my Mac, launch Disk Utility, then look for and eject the My passport hard drive. After that the hard drive icon shown in Disk Utility was now "grayed." I select it it again, renamed it, and erased it. I had the choice to partition it, but I didn't need to since I only save photos to it.