Is OS X just bad at handling external drives or what?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by kockgunner, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. kockgunner macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    I love OS X and everything is no fuss and predictable except for one thing -- external hard drives. I constantly have troubles getting consistent performance and I get really strange Finder issues. I have a 2010 Macbook Pro by the way.

    For example, I tried copying a 172 GB iPhoto library from one external drive to another external drive and one time it would finish in a few hours, and another time I did it, it said it would take over a day. I could see the progress go per megabyte. Another issue is that copying files to other hard drives will complete normally, but the file sizes will be off by megabytes.

    Another weird issue is that Finder/desktop will occasionally beach ball or not show files and folders; or I can't shut down/sleep/restart my computer. As soon as I pull out all the connected hard drives (I can't even eject it safely. The icons just grey out as if it were ejecting, but it never does), files will show in Finder or desktop and the shut down process immediately commences.

    I've repaired permissions, and tried old/clean installs, and gone through whatever operating system came with my 2010 Macbook Pro and every version since, and I'm even on Mavericks DP right now, but still have the same issue. I've gone from the stock hard drive to my Crucial M4 SSD and still get the same issue. I'm at my wits' end and would love to hear if anyone has any solutions?
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    This is weird, I have always been able to plug in my External Drives (I have 4 from different manufacturers) and they work on the spot.

    Is there any other slow downs in the system with other peripherals? (Thumb drives in general)
  3. alexrmc92 macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2013
    I have had very similar issues when one of the external disks was failing. It doesn't have to be the disk itself, but more likely the disk controller. I have had quite a few seagate 1tb USB hard drives begin to fail causing the disks to fail to mount or dismount (stays grey in finder). They also can cause disk utility and / or finder to freeze during these operations.
  4. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    I've had a range of different external hard drives and not had any of the problems that you list.
    What make are the drives? How are they connected (USB, or FW)?

    Repairing Permissions, yet again, only performs limited action on SOME Apple-only System files. It does nothing for external volumes, user files or third-party software.

    You might want to look at the logs in Console utility, and see if any relevant messages are being left at the time of beachballing.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    What KIND of external hard drives are we talking about?

    Are they connected via USB? Or firewire? Or thunderbolt? Or....?

    Insofar as USB goes (particularly USB2), I believe that some of the "glitches" that happen when two or more USB-connected drives are interacting has something to do with the controller chips and/or controller cards used in the devices.

    Some just work better than others.
    Some seem to _conflict with_ other devices.

    For example, I had two drives connected via USB.
    The first was in an OtherWorldComputing "Voyager" dock.
    The second was connected with a Rosewill "dongle".
    They had to be attached in a certain order (one before the other), or one wouldn't show up on the desktop.
    Connect wrong order: no show.
    Connect right order: everything's fine.

    I find USB3 to be better - PROVIDED THAT you pick your drives and docks carefully. I have two USB3/SATA docks I use with my 2012 Mini, and both suppport USAP (USB/SCSI Advanced Protocol). Very fast and no conflicts.
    Note: to ascertain such things often requires some careful investigating before you buy....
  6. kockgunner thread starter macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    The most problematic drive is a Seagate 2 TB GoFlex. In fact I have just found huge thread on this.

    Another issue I've come across is VLC will freeze playing video. However when I force quit VLC, the video windows remain on screen but the app icon won't even be on the dock. As soon as I remove the Seagate hard drive the video windows will disappear.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I've not run into any issues with OSX and external drives. I have a number of external drives I hook up and none of them appear to run into the issues you describe.
    I have a WD passport, a Lacie Rugged drive, OWC external (not really used any more) and now a Drobo Mini. All of them get mounted as soon as I plug them in and copy performance is superb.

    Perhaps there's something up with your external drive?

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