Portable HD randomly fails, then functions, then fails again

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by ducatidoc, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. ducatidoc macrumors regular

    ducatidoc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #1
    First off, thanks to everyone offering advice here - I am relatively new to OS X and need the advice.

    I have a portable FireLite Smartdisk HD that is connected to my MBA via a USB2 wireless hub. I have run it direct to the MBA, through the hub, and had no issues whatsoever for 7 months. The drive is 14 months old. And yes, the warranty is for 12 months. (Looking for a portable HD? Don't buy this one.)

    The drive is less than 25% full. It is in FAT32 format. It primarily serves as a backup for some non-critical files.

    It failed last week. Crash, boom. The drive would not mount, and made a loud "clicking" noise when powered up. I (mistakenly) assume the drive is toast, say a little prayer for the POS, and smiled that I am not so stupid as to forget to backup my data.

    Here's where it gets weird... (cue spooky background music)

    The next time I reboot, I forget the drive is still attached. IT MOUNTS. No clicking. Even spookier, DATA IS THERE. Figuring I am simply inept at computer, I just guess that maybe I was wrong and it is okay.

    Over time (and successive reboots) the drive continues to mount. Sometimes the data is there. Sometimes the data is not accessible. On a few more occasions, the drive completely fails to mount and reverts back to making that loud clicking noise.

    So.. What do I do? Is this a HTF+/Fat32 thing? I would figure loud clicking from a drive speaks to a hardware issue, but in my limited knowledge hard drives either work or fail - never "sometimes." Is there any chance this is something I can fix and salavage the drive?

    Thanks!
     
  2. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #2
    it sounds like the drive is on its last legs. make sure the data is backed up and only use it for things that are non-critical or you don't care about losing.

    clicking noises + hard drives = bad news.
     
  3. ducatidoc thread starter macrumors regular

    ducatidoc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #3
    yah, thanks, but i always thought clicking = dead (as opposed to dying)
     
  4. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #4
    Have you got another caddy you can try? I have had caddys fail and they have caused clicking drives.
     
  5. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #5
    Clicking can also indicate that the drive is not getting enough power. Some brands of external disks need 2 usb ports (1 for extra power). Given that the MBA's usb port is 'souped up' to support the superdrive... I'm wondering if that's the problem, though. On the other hand, perhaps the drive is picky about wanting a usb port that's precisely 'on spec' and not modified in any way. If the cable you have for it has two usb prongs on the end, I'd try testing it on other computers to see if you have any better luck getting it to mount.
     
  6. ducatidoc thread starter macrumors regular

    ducatidoc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #6
    1) dont have another caddy but do have the ever-useful usb to sata/pata cable kit. worth a try maybe in the event of complete failure?

    2) as for the power issue, i am running it out of a powered usb2 hub.
     
  7. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #7
    Is there a power rating on the hub, perhaps on the AC adapter? It might provide enough power for simpler things like flash drives, but not hard drives. But I don't use a hub so I'm not the most qualified person to talk about such things.... anyone else here want to chime in?
     
  8. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #8
    Good call about the power question regarding the USB hub. I had to butcher a old power pack yesterday at work to get my hub some more power.
     
  9. jodelli macrumors 65816

    jodelli

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
    Location:
    Windsor, ON, Canada
    #9
    Two things. First see if the drive works on another computer. If it doesn't, it's the drive that's the problem.

    If the drive works:

    The optical drive for the Air apparently has a proprietary IDE-USB bridge within it that allows it to work only with the Air. The issue doesn't seem to actually be a difference in delivered power through the USB port as has been speculated.
    http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/macbook-air-superdrive-for-all/

    So if you're using a standard external HD, which the FireLite Smartdisk HD is, who knows? I know others will work, such as WD.

    These people use USB hubs with several devices plugged in:

    http://www.macworld.com/article/131864/2008/01/macbookair.html
    and also: (Scroll down to the lower left user feedback)
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB397G/A

    FireLite offers adapters that might work in your efforts to maintain relative sanity;)
    http://www.smartdisk.com/staticpages/fireliteporthdd.asp
     

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