beachballing and external USB hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by obdave, May 12, 2009.

  1. obdave macrumors member

    May 25, 2008
    OK, I have Googled quite a bit and I can't find an answer to my particular issue.

    My setup: 2 GHz Mac Mini, OSX 10.5.6, 3 GB RAM. In addition to the main drive (23 GB remaining of 111 GB), I have two external USB drives. One is my Time Machine Drive (585 GB remaining of 698 GB) and about 2 months ago I added a 1 TB USB drive (831 GB available of 931 GB total).

    I've had my Mac for about a year and generally love it. I bought the terabyte drive because I want to migrate all the media files (.mp3s mostly) from my PC to a place where both XP and Mac machines can see it. I have the terabyte drive shared, and mapped from XP when the XP machine is on. That all works fine.

    Most of the time I am not accessing the terabyte drive, so it goes to sleep, which is good because it's kinda noisy, certainly noisier than the Mac.

    The issue is this: whenever I go to save a file, the Mac feels the need to wake up the terabtye drive before it will give me the "save as" dialog box, and while this happens I'm beachballing. I guess I could understand this, but the Mac is smart enough not to wake up the Time Machine drive.

    I guess it's waking up the drive because I might write to it. but I hardly ever do. Is there a way to flip a bit somewhere so it doesn't wake the drive unless in the save as dialog box I actually click on the terabyte volume?

    I realize this may seem like a minor quibble, but it's driving me crazy, to the point where I may end up just disconnecting the drive unless I plan to use it. That seems like overkill.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.
  2. obdave thread starter macrumors member

    May 25, 2008
    OK, I'm starting to pay more attention when when the drive wakes up and I start beachballing. Sometimes, Firefox seems to cause it, though I don't know yet exactly what events kick it off.

    Also, if I receive an email with an attachment and try to open the attachment, that seems to do it.
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    This is standard behavior and unfortunately, no, I don't think there's an easy way to prevent it from waking the drive when certain operations occur. Not exactly sure why certain things trigger the poll that wakes externals, but it's beyond the user's control.

    You could unmount the drive when it's not in use, but that can obviously get rather inconvenient. You can also set the drive to never sleep, but that has the side effect of wasting a small amount of electricity and of course noise (which sounds like your bigger beef with it).

    Actually, if anybody does know of a more clever way to remove a volume from the system polls, I'd love to hear it, but I'm not optimistic.

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