Problem using USB3 drives with MBA 2011

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Internaut, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. Internaut macrumors 6502a

    Allow me to be hopelessly naive here... I've been a bit lax with my backup routine, and finally decided to do something about my photos. My main Aperture library is 217Gb, and this sits on a 1TB external USB3 disk. Until now, this has been connected to one of the MBA's USB2 ports, and has never given me any real performance problems (when using Aperture). Knowing USB2 is a bit long in the tooth (and slow), I've acquired the following:

    - Thunderbolt to USB3 adapter
    - Four port USB3 hub (No external power supply - I suspect I know where this is going)
    - Two 2TB portable USB 3 disks (Why not? Storage is cheap).

    All this works perfectly well until I plug a second USB3 hard disk into the hub, at which point both disks start emitting terrifying clicking noises and disappear from Finder.


    1. Is this a power issue, related to the USB hub's lack of an external power source, or is it a limitation of the MacBook/Thunderbolt?

    2. Assuming the former, would an externally powered USB3 hub resolve my problem?

    Other alternatives? I've noticed the Belkin Thunderbolt Dock is getting cheaper. Generally, I'm reluctant to invest in Thunderbolt as I suspect it's going the way of the Dodo.
  2. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    I've no experience with your configuration, but I'd wager a guess that "yes - it's a power issue".
  3. dyt1983, Apr 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: To remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  4. Internaut thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Thanks. Time to blow a little more money, methinks.
  5. orangezorki macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    Definitely sounds like not enough power. I suspect that even if you had plugged the hub into a 'real' USB3 port, you would have had the same problem.

    Also please don't take this the wrong way, but: Kudos for being the first MBA owner I've ever heard of who's made use of the thunderbolt port!
  6. Internaut, Apr 9, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2015

    Internaut thread starter macrumors 6502a

    :D. I might well be the last. Looking at the new MacBook 12, I'm betting Apple are killing it off in favour of the latest USB. I waited over a year for the Belkin Thunderbold Dock to become something other than Vapourware, and that landed crazy expensive.
  7. Mrbobb, Apr 9, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2015

    Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    I use it for my ethernet adapter, when I want to move lots of stuff on the network, and lately I got a cheapo $10 t-HDMI cable, works great for my external monitor. TB, seems like it just got here yesterday.

    OP, is definitely power, take that to the bank. U can maybe use a single 2.5" HD on an un-powered hub, more than that, furgitaboutit.
  8. Internaut thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ok... Couple of days later and I have a powered USB hub. Much better. That said, a drive to drive transfer of 220Gb Aperture library is faster, but not massively so. Using the same USB port, for the transfer, probably doesn't help. Nor does the fact I'm using spinning disks, not SSD.

    Running Aperture, on a library on one of these disks, is quite a bit faster though.

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