iPhoto and external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by twomiracles, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. twomiracles macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    Okay, so I have moved all my photos to an external hard drive that is formatted FAT32 so I can continue to store them there with the Mac. Now, I deleted all of the photos from my library so that it would reimport them from the correct location. So, I go to import photos, browse to the folder and then it starts telling me over and over again that "the volume for photo1.jpg can't be found", but the preview is right there on the screen?!?!? Help, please, before I throw this thing out on the driveway and get my PC back out!
  2. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    Seriously, WTH??? I had to power the machine off because iPhoto wouldn't stop giving me that message over and over again for each photo (and I have 11000+ of them) and now it doesn't even see the external hard drive. Are Macs just not compatible with them? I seem to have continuous trouble getting it to see my external hard drives. Help, please!
  3. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    What sort of Mac do you have? Is it connected with USB or Firewire? Is there another cable or enclosure you could test your Mac with? :)
  4. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    Sorry, it's a new Mac mini, just got it less than a week ago. I am connecting the external drives with USB cables, but I've had the same problem with two different drives with two different cables connected to two different ports. I will not be able to see it, but yet when I disconnect it, I get that ugly message about ejecting it first...but I can't see it to eject it! Really, I'm to the point of giving up. This has been disappointment after disappointment for me and it makes me sad because I want to love it, but I just can't.
  5. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    You know what? Seriously, forget it. It's packed up and ready to go back to the store. It's been nothing but a hassle for me since I got it and I was hoping to simplify my life, not complicate it.

    I know macs are great machines, I just wish my experience had been. Please cross your fingers that I don't get hit too hard with a restocking fee, especially considering how my experience has been.

  6. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    wow. i don't recall a post where someone gave up that fast.

    less than a day after posting a msg for help and you pack it in.

    enjoy the pc. you may be mad at macs, but i hope when you tell your family and friends that macs suck and don't help simplify your life, you also tell them you didn't know what you were doing....

    or maybe they already know that....

    for example:
    did you put your photos into iphoto first? then drag them to the external?
    did you ever think that 11+K photos will cause any machine to choke a bit? that..is..um...alot of photos (nothing wrong with that many, just is alot)

    did you realize that usb cables absolutely suck compared to firewire? ie. the speed of the USB is supposedly faster than FW400, but usb can not sustain data bursts better than FW....meaning that a FW drive can handle data, in your case the photos, faster than USB. i'm not surprised you were having issues with USB. that is ALOT of data coming across. think of it as having a 1 inch hose (USB) and a 5 inch hose (firewire), each having an equal amount of water pushing into it - which one is going to fill up the container faster???

    So, before returning it, try connecting your external by FW if it has that capability.

    and also, why format to fat32? go to mac os extended.... i don't know if that will make a difference, but unless your external is also to be used with a peecee, it shouldn't be fat32.

    one last question: when you say you wanted to move the photos to the external - do you mean you are using it as a backup (which makes complete sense) or are you moving the photos completely to the external without having any on your mini? you should be able to keep them on the mini and then use the external as a backup. that would be the safest in terms of safekeeping your photos.

    hope that helps,
  7. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    It's too bad that one mistake you made (with the NTFS drive) caused you so many headaches.

    Personally, I would have fixed the NTFS issue, reinstalled OS X, and started my experience over again.

    If you're really going for an IS degree, I respectfully wish you luck.
  8. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    The drives do not have firewire capability. I knew when I switched to Mac I'd have to buy some new software, but I didn't know my hardware would also be an issue. I am a student with two small children and can't afford to spend thousands of dollars to switch to Mac. I have a perfectly good harddrive that is formatted FAT32 already and I need that because I still have 3 PCs I have to use. I'm okay with losing the NTFS one, that's fine. That's not the one I'm having an issue with now, it's the FAT32 one which should work, from what I've been told here.

    Keebler, no need to be ugly or accusatory here. I DO know what I'm doing on a PC and have never had trouble like I'm having with this machine. I do not intend to tell anyone that Macs suck, nor did I say that here. I simply said this isn't working for me. I did try to put the photos into iPhoto directly from the external just like it said to in a tutorial I found. It kept telling me it couldn't find the volume where the photos were located, though I browsed to that drive to tell it to import them and I could see it on my desktop. Choking is not an issue. I walked away for 2 hours while it copied them from the NTFS drive to the FAT32 one and I didn't have a problem with that at all, I know that's a lot of data to move. That's fine. But when I kept getting that error with every single photo and then the thing wouldn't even let me force quit because it just kept shoving that error message in my face, I had to power it down twice.

    I have always kept my photos on an external and never had any problem. I got the mini with the 60GB drive with the intention of using the external for storage. I told them this at the Apple store when I bought it. Never was I advised that it might be a problem, never was it mentioned that USB wasn't good enough for transferring data to a mac, nor was it mentioned that there might be a file format problem. They knew I was moving from PC, shouldn't I have been told these things? Perhaps had I been able to make a more informed decision on what to buy, I'd be happier with my mac.

    Lastly, repeatedly, the drives have not mounted and I am not even able to see them in finder. I've had to plug and unplug them, power them, power the machine down, etc... to finally get it to see the drives. Then, the worst part is, when I unplugged them, I got that message telling me I should have ejected them first, but I can't eject them if I can't see them.

    So, over and over I've had issues with these external hard drives that, when plugged into my PC, work perfectly. Is it the mac? You will probably say no. But there's nothing wrong with the drives, either, and I was not and am still not prepared to purchase more hardware to make the machine work.

    Thanks for trying to help and aristobrat, I'm not sure what you were getting at with that last sentence, but yes, I am carrying a 4.0 in a Business Information Systems program and have taught myself Photoshop along with many OS php programs. In fact, I do paid work installing ZenCart and Wordpress. So please don't insinuate that I am not capable. I am more than capable. If this were something I could work out without having to throw more money at it, perhaps I would. But all of the solutions I am being offered involve either large amounts of time or money, neither of which I have right now.
  9. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    i apologize for my behaviour. i'm not normally like this, but lately, i've seen too many posts of windows users piping off without knowing what they are doing. in your case, you do know what you're doing so i sincerely apologize. my back just got up against the wall b/c of previous folks.

    i agree with your points about the apple store. the only question i have is whether or not the externals are mac os compatible? i have a feeling you may have checked this, but i have to ask b/c i've come across some that are not. that might make a difference?

    also, have you posted an apple's support boards. www.apple.com/support

    i would post in the iphoto section first and see what type of answers you get and then try the mini. you can also search - i would try externals . there are some gurus there to help.

    good luck.
  10. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    Thanks, Keebler, I appreciate that and can understand. I didn't want to come off with an ugly tone, I know macs are great machines, I just wish I'd had better luck.

    As for whether the drive is Mac compatible, it says it is on the box, so I have to assume that it is. Why I am having so much trouble with it, I just don't know. Perhaps there really is something wrong with the machine, but the bottom line is, I did get it to simplify and if I have to spend hours chasing around solutions to problems that I shouldn't have, it just isn't a good move for me to switch. I just don't have that kind of time.

    Maybe after I'm out of school and am really ready to make an investment, I'll try again, but for now, I'm afraid this mac and I are going our separate ways.

    Thanks to everyone for all the help I've gotten here in the past few days.
  11. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    try a couple of more things before you through in the towel.

    The first problem I'm worried about is killing the computer with the external drive(s) plugged in. You may have Fragged them.

    Lets open disk utility and run a check on the drives.

    To find Disk Utility open the Applications Folder and then the Utilities Folder. It should be somewhere down the list near the bottom.

    The drives should appear in the left side of the window. Click on the one you want to work on and click repair on the bottom right of the screen.

    This may take a while. Get some coffee or another beverage of your choice.

    We'll go over the next step when that is done.

    Let me know.
  12. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    rjphoto, it's already packed up and I've left the house to head to town (stopped off at the office on the way out). Tell ya what, though, I'll let the techs at the Apple place look it over. I know the external drives are fine because I've already hooked them back up to the PC and written to them and looked at my files. So, I dunno, maybe it's the ports? I've had this problem since day one with these drives not showing up. Worth letting them look at, I suppose, especially if they're going to charge me a monstrous restocking fee.

    Thanks, really, I do appreciate your patience and persistence, guys! I'll let you know how it goes at the store.
  13. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    We'll be waiting.

    I did some test on bringing photos back in to iPhoto from and external.

    let me know and I'll detail them later for you. It was really easy.

    Good Luck.
  14. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    I used to keep my iPhoto library on an external disk before I upgraded to a MacBook with more HD space. They were originally on my internal disk, but when I got pressed for space I used the method from the iPhoto: How to move the iPhoto Library Folder to a new location article to move the library. Ok, it wasn't to a FAT32 disk, but I don't see why that should matter...
  15. iMacFan78 macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2006
    Well, I'm surprised that you gave up so fast, but I'm more surprised that nobody's told you what I'm about to tell you:

    You can actually reformat your NTFS and FAT32 drives into Mac OS Extended (HFS+) without spending any money. The drives will no longer be compatible with a Windows machine, and you will lose the data on the drives (so copy it over to another drive), but they will probably work a lot better. Macs are compatible with FAT32, but that's not their native format. I'm sure the people at the Apple Store will be able to show you how to reformat the drive. :)
  16. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    What I'm getting at is that I think you're giving up too easily for someone with a future career in IS.

    If your mini is the first time you've run across a computer that doesn't properly recognize and mount an external USB drive every time you plug it in, then you're either incredibly lucky or you haven't had a lot of experience with that yet. Certain external drives mount better with certain systems. I don't know if it's the enclosure's chipset, karma, the position of the moon or what, but that's how it is.
  17. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    I understand, aristobrat, but I also have an almost full-time job, 2 5-year olds, school and a house to take care of. I got the machine to simplify, not complicate. I normally don't give up easily, if I did, I'd never have learned the things I already have on my own, but at this point, I just don't have time to try to fix this.

    I can't reformat the drive because I do still need it to work with my PC. I did take the machine in to the Apple store and they're running diagnostics to see if it is the machine. I also remembered earlier that it did the same thing when I tried to play songs that are on a portable hard drive, a firefly. I added them to the iTunes library and they played fine the first time, but when I came back to play them again and plugged in the firefly, it kept showing those songs as broken links. So maybe it's the USB ports. Guess we'll see what they say and go from there.
  18. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    I couldn't get past all the bickering to see exactly what you have/haven't tried, so perhaps this was already said.

    Although this tip may be a little late....

    To move your iPhoto Library to an external drive (or network volume or any other location other than the default), simply COPY the ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library folder AS IS to another drive.

    Now when you launch iPhoto, hold down the Option key. It will prompt you for the Library location - select the newly copied folder and VOILA, library in tact with all the roll, album, smart album information!

    Once you are certain that this works, feel free to delete the original ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library folder

    Moral of the story: you don't have to reimport your photos or muck with symlinks anymore. Its really that simple. I have done this, so I know it works. Granted, in the case of a network volume, iPhoto will take a performance hit depending on the speed of your network (I use 802.11g)
  19. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    kingjr3, the photos are already on an external, I was trying to get them into the iPhoto library without putting them on the hard drive. I don't have room on the internal drive to store them there. The problem, in a nutshell, is that the Mac mini doesn't consistently see the external drive. Even while there was an icon on the desktop for the external drive, when iPhoto tried to import the photos to the library, it repeatedly told me that it couldn't access the volume where the photos were stored...over and over and over for every single photo and the only way to make it stop was to power it off. It wouldn't even let me force quit.

    Could it be the drive? Possibly. However, the drive works fine when hooked to my PC. It did the same thing with music on my firefly and that also works fine when hooked to any other machine I own. So, it would seem that the problem is with the Mac's USB ports. So, it's in the shop, they're running tests on it and we'll see what they come up with.

    Thanks again to everyone...I'll be back after I hear from them, I'm sure :) .
  20. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    In your first post, you made it sound like the photos were already in iPhoto (local hard drive) since you mentioned deleting all of the photos from your library after you moved them to an external drive.

    There is nothing wrong with your external drive, whats happening is that there is an image in your library that is referencing a disc/volume/share that is not accessible becuase it may be busy. How exactly did you clean out your library before, through Finder or through iPhoto?

    Once you get your stuff back from the shop. I'd suggest that you start the process over by first creating a fresh Library on the external drive, using the option trick I mentioned above. Then make sure your import preferences have "copy files to iphoto Library" checked - perform your import in chunks by dragging a subset of your pics from Finder into the main pane of iPhoto. iPhoto will import it, creating a copy of the image inside its own library folder structure (which now resides on the external drive). Note: if you drag a folder into the folder/album list pane, a new album with the same name as the folder will be created and those pics will be imported directly into that album. Once you are done importing all of the images, feel free to archive/delete the originals.

    I guess the key here is that iPhoto works best if you allow it to manage everything, meaning once this is done, don't muck with the files through the finder.
  21. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    The photos were in iPhoto from when I imported them from the incompatible NTFS external drive. I wanted to keep all photos in one place and after I learned that the Mac couldn't write to the old external drive, I copied them over to the new one. I deleted all the files from iPhoto (from within iPhoto) because I didn't see a need to keep the old NTFS drive even hooked up to the Mac. So, I went to iPhoto, highlighted all the thumbnails and deleted them. Then I tried to import from the new drive, which was visible on my desktop, but kept getting the "can't access the volume" error. Does that make better sense? At any rate, I'm thinking really seriously of just reinstalling the OS and starting from scratch since I've had so many learning pains with this so far. I have no data on there, only a few programs that won't be hard to reinstall.

    They haven't called me back, yet, so I don't know if that's good or bad, but hopefully I'll know something tomorrow.
  22. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    Well, they ran all the tests and found nothing wrong. They said they're going to loop them to run all night and see if anything comes up overnight...but to me, it sounds like the problem is going to be blamed on my external drive, even though it works on a PC and even though I've had the problem with more than one drive. I'm quite sure they'll hit me hard with a restocking fee since they are apparently going to admit no fault in this problem, so I guess I just need to make the best of a bad situation and try to turn it around. I think when I get it back, I'm going to reinstall the OS and start clean. I suppose I'll also be considering reformatting this hard drive in hopes that it solves the problem. What I still don't understand, though, is why it is doing this with different drives including a Firefly portable drive. I have all my PCs running iTunes set to play from this Firefly and the only time I've had trouble was with the Mac...it was telling me that all the songs were (Broken Link) even though the Firefly was hooked up. Guess I can just go buy an iPod, I mean, WTH, apparently I have money to throw away. Sorry, that wasn't nice, but dang, this is frustrating! Anyway, I know, I know, I haven't gotten a definitive answer, yet, but I am pretty sure where it's going and just want to have a plan of attack so I can get some use out of the $800+ I have in this machine. So, should I go to the New Users forum and start a new thread on how to best accomplish the things I want to accomplish, once I figure out exactly what those are?
  23. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    First off, I apologize for being such a butt. The last part of my screenname can really be appropriate at times. I thought you were giving up out of not wanting to spend any time to give it a fair shake -- I didn't realize your time was that constrained. :eek:

    FWIW, here's what I would do.

    1. Get the mini back and do a clean install of OS X on it.
    2. Run Software Update and get everything current.
    3. Plug in the external drive, let it mount, then use the "Verify Disk" button on the Disk Utility program (available in the Applications | Utility program) on the external drive and see what it says. Either that, or plug it into one of your Windows machines, right click | Properties | Tools | Error-checking ... Check Now
    4. Assuming everything is OK, set your iTunes to not manage your files, and iPhoto to not copy the images to library.
    5. Add your music to iTunes and your images to iPhoto

    From what you were saying (iPhoto couldn't find the volume the images were on, and iTunes was nothing but broken links), it sounds like even though your external drive appeared to be mounted on your desktop, it hung or something.

    If that happens again, I'd try pressing f11 to quickly get to the desktop and then try accessing the external drive by double-clicking its icon on the desktop. If you can't browse it (it appears hung), then I'm not sure what else to try, short of reformatting it.

    External USB drives can be weird. I have an Adaptec external USB enclosure that has a 75% chance of showing up on my MacBook Pro's desktop when I plug it in. On my roommates Dell, it's probably a 50% chance. But on my partners PowerBook, it's rock solid -- 100% every time.

    I'd also mention to the Apple store manager tomorrow about your NTSF issue. Perhaps he can remind his sales associates about that and save someone the same headache you went thru.
  24. twomiracles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2006
    Apology accepted :) . Thank you for the step by step, I'm sure that will be a big help when I get it back. I will definitely remind the owner of the store that the issue of External Hard Drives should be addressed, particularly when selling a machine with such a small hard drive (well, by today's standards, anyway).

    Thanks again!
  25. himansk macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2006
    Try this software:

    I use it to manage multiple libraries, especially coz I have around 15000 pix. so to make iphoto faster and to organize my photos better, I have 3 different libraries and switch between them as needed.

    About the ext hdd, i think its a hardware issue. I have seen that repairing a hard drive helps a lot, and sometimes when you unplug the ext drive without ejecting (like u said u did) it takes osx longer to mount the drive next time around the drive is connected. what size is your external drive? having large drives (>30G) should normally be partitioned into smaller FAT32 drives for better performance.

    Hope all this helps.

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