Is my iMac eating external hard drives?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Scuby, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. Scuby macrumors regular

    May 16, 2010
    I've had an iMac (which is my first Mac, other than a brief play with a Mac Mini) for about 6 months. It's been great, except in that time i've had three external hard drives fail, and a fourth is now giving me worrying signals!

    Is there / could there be anything inherently wrong with my iMac to cause repeated failures, or am I just on a string of bad luck?

    - First failure was a Western Digital Passport 2.5" USB drive - can't remember the details. Wasn't heavily used.
    - Second failure was a Seagate GoFlex Firewire 2.5" drive - this one just one day disappeared from my drives, failed any self test, and couldn't be repaired. Found a PC to run diagnostics on, and it failed its SMART status check. Was always connected and always on, as a Time Machine disk.
    - Third was a Samsung Story Station 3.5" mains powered USB drive - again, just failed one day without warning, all data was unreadable, though it would allow me to reformat and use it (for a short period of time, before the same thing happened again). Never had chance to run SMART diagnostics on this one. Was only ever briefly connected (once or twice a week) to run a backup, then turned off again.
    - Fourth drive is another Seagate GoFlex, this time it's used as an offline backup so only occasionally connectrd. Hasn't failed on me yet, but has just randomly disconnected itself part-way through a backup a couple of times. No apparent data loss, nut it's got me worried and i've got a second backup drive on the way just in case!

    Anyone elses experienced a high rate of external drive failures? Is there anything I can do to reduce them? OS X seems particularly bad at any kind of diagnostics, with no software available that I can find to read the SMART status of USB drives (other than for some specific manufacturers). All drives have been Mac formatted (journalled) - is another format more reliable / recoverable?

    Any suggestions greatly received!

  2. product26 macrumors 6502a


    May 30, 2005
    Most external drives that I see do not have sufficient cooling. They usually have plastic cases and no cooling fan. Even those with metal/aluminum cases can cook a drive if left on 24/7. It is possible that the drives are failing due to heat. Or its possible that you were unlucky enough to get multiple 'lemons'
  3. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    I have a 750gb WD that I got back when 750gb was the biggest external you could get. It's been used regularly, now primarily for HD video and it's going strong. I have a 2tb WD now that is also great.

    Neither have a fan.
  4. Scuby thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2010
    Ah yes that's a good point, the most recent worry (the fourth drive) was on the hottest day of the year so far in the UK - though only 25C, so shouldn't be too hot by global standards. However, the others all failed during winter, and are not kept next to anything else (all sit on the desk behind the stand of my iMac) so would be surprised if heat was an issue for those.

  5. eljanitor macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2011
    I was reading somewhere that external hard drive enclosures that are made out of aluminum are good when it comes to cooling. This makes sense because aluminum will help dissipate heat well, and as I continued reading the article this is why some companies do not choose to include an internal fan for extra cooling.

    If you look at some of the external hard drive cases you will sometimes see where they were going to put a fan, but didn't. Doesn't make much sense to me not to put a $1.50 cooling fan in a $160.00 on up external hard drive.
  6. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I have had problems with WD Mybooks and Passports.

    Putting Passports on POWERED USB Hubs helped.

    MyBooks would just randomly disconnect and I'd get that nasty message about drive being improperly removed.

    I decided I had had enough with the lower cost option and stepped up to a more expensive option.

    I have been EXTREMELY HAPPY with the performance of this drive ....
    ( so happy that I have ordered another one in 3TB size ) Drive&cp=1&lp=1


    I keep my iMac and G-Drive on 24/7 - but it's not churning away constantly unless some heavy work is being done. I see no signs of overheating and I have had it for a while now. Even when doing some heavy work downloading/uploading massive files it only gets 'so hot' and not so hot you cannot touch it.

  7. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I haven't been happy with any packaged drive. However I've been very pleased with the OWC Mercury Elite AL Pro which comes either as a case or with a drive that can be swapped out.

    Aluminum, fanless, but seems to run cool enough. One of the drives has been going 24/7 for over 2 years, another for over a year. Last two are more recent. These are all on my Mac mini server system.

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