Thunderbolt Display drops USB ports

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Rob.G, May 16, 2012.

  1. Rob.G macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2010
    I'm trying to figure out if this is a problem with the Thunderbolt Display, my MacBook Pro, or if it's a software problem. But every now and then, the USB ports on my Thunderbolt display stop working. A reboot fixes it, but when it happens, it's annoying since I have my iPhone and external hard drive (for Time Machine backups) connected to it. I know when it happens because I get the warning dialog about the external drive having been improperly ejected.

    Anybody else see this problem?

  2. Relznuk macrumors 6502


    Sep 27, 2009
    UT, USA
    Hey - I know this is from June, but I'm having the exact same issue. I don't think it's the Thunderbolt Display (unless it's a firmware problem). My Thunderbolt Display has been replaced twice, and this still happens. I also recently replaced my MacBook Pro with a new 2012 model, and that didn't fix the issue either.

    Any help, guys?
  3. tkt2rde macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2009
    I just purchased the 27" thunderbolt display and maxed out Macbook Pro with Retina. I keep having intermittent dropping issues as well... only it also affects my Firewire 800 Port as well. All my external hard drives are connected via FW and last night they kept dropping (giving me the improper eject notification) and remounting. My USB issue is manifesting itself via my Scansnap scanner. Connected to my second Thunderbolt display at the office, it will lock every time during a multi-page scan. If I connect the ScanSnap directly to the Macbook Pro's port, it scans fine. Something is wrong with the Thunderbolt ports. I'm using Lion with all the latest software updates.
  4. thedoofa macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2012
    I was having the drop out over FW issue when ever my mac would go to sleep. Turning the sleep off has sorted this out.

    Not had the USB dropping issue, but when my TBD was hooked upto my mac mini I had significant problems where the display would flicker then not come back on. Sometimes even after a reboot.

    Touch wood had none of these problems since I got my iMac.
  5. superlobo macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    Exactly same problem with my ScanSnap 1500M and MacBook Air June 2012. Workaround of attaching ScanSanp directly to the MBA works.

    Do you have any news?

  6. vumad macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2012
    Ipswich, UK
    Same problem here. My 27" TBD is connected to a mid-2011 Mac Mini Server. Ever so often all three USB ports on the TBD stop working. I had got into the habit of re-booting the machine when the problem occurred but this morning I found that simple disconnecting the display from the base unit and then re-connecting it fixed the problem (at least for a while).
  7. ruralvoice macrumors newbie

    Nov 17, 2008
    Rob and Vumad, I have a Thunderbolt Display (TD) and a MacBook Pro Retina (MBP) connected. What I have found after a lot of troubleshooting is that if the devices are properly connected and working and the computer is allowed to sleep (computer sleep, not display sleep) or it is re-started, after re-start although there is video, there is no control via the ports on the display (USB, Firewire, Ethernet, etc.). ADDITIONALLY, you will find that there is no sound from the display or iSight/Facebook Camera function from the display (these have returned to only the computer).

    I have an open case on this and am going the Apple Retail Store Genius Bar this week to demonstrate the problem connected to there MCP computer. Engineering at Apple requested I do this.

    It appears that something is not allowing the TD's internal hub to be recognized after the type of disconnect I mentioned (computer sleep or re-start while the TD is connected). You can visually see this if you go to System Information and look at "USB" when properly working you will see the USB, sound and camera functions on one of the USB high-speed buses (usually the bottom one), but if the problem occurs you will see that none of these items from the display are there.

    My work around is to set my computer to NEVER sleep (again, display sleep is just fine). And, if I must re-start I command a shutdown and disconnect the TD. Then after the computer is booted, I re-connect the TD, and the controls are again present.

    Hope this is of some help.

  8. colshine macrumors regular


    Mar 2, 2011
    I had similar problems with the TBD purchased December last year. It was swapped for a new unit and I've not had any issues since.
  9. ruralvoice macrumors newbie

    Nov 17, 2008


    This turned out to be an "All-in-One" display cable or display electronics issue. The way I isolated it was to unplug the Thunderbolt connector of the All-in-One display cable from the computer (leave power connector to computer plugged in). I then plugged in a regular Thunderbolt cable between a Thunderbolt port on the computer and the empty Thunderbolt port on the display. In this configuration everything worked (as I had bypassed the Thunderbolt portion of the All-in-One cable). Everything plugged into the other display ports worked and the display sound and display video camera worked fine.

    Apple replaced my Thunderbolt Display which was under warranty.

    Hope this is of some assistance.

  10. rbgorbet macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2012
    cable or display?

    Hi Barry,

    I (and many others over in the apple discussion boards: have been having the same issue. Someone else there mentioned they had "resolved" it by replacing the built-in TB cable with an additional one.

    My display is still under warrantee as well, and I wonder whether you can be more specific about whether your replacement display still requires the "external" cable or whether replacing the display resolved the issue for you.

  11. rpg51 macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012
    I am experiencing similar but slightly different issues. I have TBD refurb and MBA. I find that the devices connected through my TBD USB ports (wireless mouse and keyboard etc) will frequently not be recognized if I connect my MBA to the TBD while the MBA is running. If I connect first and then start my MBA the devices work. All the devices work fine if I use the usb ports on the MBA itself.

    Phone support suggested plugging TBD power to wall directly rather than power strip. This seemed to solve it. But then an hour later the same thing happened. They told me to go to Genius Bar.

    I have appointment tomorrow but I am trying to decide whether to beat my head against this wall or just live with it. I am beginning to wonder whether Apple is dealing with this in good faith or if it is a situation where the one percenters have decided that they can't acknowledge a design problem because the recall would hurt their portfolio values, in which event there is no hope.

    Reading your reports of true hardware solutions is buoying my spirit. But I am going to have to drive 3 hours round trip tomorrow with my TBD, Computer, keyboard and mouse and haul it all into an Apple Store in a Mall and pray the problem is repeatable at the store and that I am treated with dignity! Ugh.
  12. Rob.G thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2010
    FWIW, since upgrading to Mountain Lion, I haven't had the ports drop since. BUT, I just had a new thing happen this morning that seems slightly related.

    My iOS devices -- iPhone 4S and iPad 3 -- wouldn't charge off of ANY USB ports. Not the MacBook Pro's and not the Thunderbolt display's. Yet my external USB hard drives worked fine. I swapped to a known good cable and still nothing. It took a reboot to get it working again. Very weird.

  13. rpg51 macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012
    I have mtn lion and I am having my issues explained above. I just returned home after Genius Bar appt. very nice and smart tech went through the entire set up. Saw the issue. He was not able to make clear diagnosis but it is by no means clear to him, or me, that my troubles are hardware related. It was revealing that when we connected with his air their was no problem despite repeated attempts. Also, when we booted my machine off his external drive we had no problems. Not clear whether we were havin good luck or what. At the end of all this my machine was working fine as well. He wrote report approving replacement of Tbd system board and the cable from tbd to computer but he was not confident it would fix it. He is suspicious that there is a software issue on my air. But he honestly feels he can't be sure. I'll use it this pm and evening after reinstalling os. i am considering doing a 100% fresh install of os and software before doing surgery on tbd. Report later.
  14. rpg51 macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012
    I reinstalled the operating system in my Air. First time I connected after that all worked properly. Next time - several hours later, same problem. No mouse or keyboard. This is getting extremely frustrating. Reminds me of my windows experiences with docking stations which were always a nightmare. I thought this would be different.

    I don't have time to be messing with this. Now it has to go back and have the repairs made. PIA.

    Are there people out there using the TBD as an Air docking station with wireless usb mouse and keyboard plugged into the TBD USB ports that are not having these problems? Or is this just an endless treadmill I am on actually thinking this can be fixed?
  15. SmallBizOwner macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
    Partial Fix

    I have the same problem. Initially I was frustrated by having to unplug and replug my USB keyboard into the TBD, but now that no longer works and neither does restarting the computer. However, I wanted to share with you all that you can plug your USB keyboard into your MacBook directly, and that works. Apple's not doing right by us on this one, but it's an equivalently annoying fix, at least, as the unplug/replug which I was getting used to. I, too, expect it all to work since it's Apple and am a long-time purchaser for personal and biz use. Grrrr.
  16. Rob.G thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2010
    I haven't had this problem in a long time, and have since sold my MBP. I'm now on a Mac Mini and instead am dealing with the random black screen crashes instead. ;)

    My keyboard is wireless so I occasionally get to sit and wait after a reboot for the system to find it so I can type in my password.

  17. helveta macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2012

    Agreed. I bought a new MBA and TB monitor last November and was very disappointed that the usb keyboard plugged into the monitor only occasionally worked as it should. That's a lot of money to spend on something that can't boot up properly.
  18. Moongoose macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    Thunderbolt display, Macbook Pro & WD Mybook Studio

    Can anyone help me please??? I've got a MacbookPro, Thunderbolt Display & a WD My Book Studio (Time Machine backup). All of them are under 1 year old.
    Recently i've discovered that when I plug in the WD external drive through the firewire cable the Thunderbolt display starts to flicker on off off every few seconds then eventually cuts out after about 10mins. I thought there was a problem with the Macbook pro as I had just had the logic board replaced as it suddenly died. I took it to an Apple genius and all the hardware is in perfect working order. I didn't mention anything about the WD Mybook but now realise that it's only when I have it plugged in with the Thunderbolt display plugged in at the same time that there is a problem...
    There is no flickering on the Macbookpro at all. And when I unplug the Apple Display I can have the WD drive plugged in to the Macbook pro with out any problems....

    Would there be a faulty firewire port on the Mac??? or something to do with the thunderbolt port and firewire port being so close together???

    Please help!! I've been to Apple 3 times in the last week....... :(

  19. davideotape macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2012
    Im having a similar issue- the computer sleeps and the usb periphals shut down. My only known solution right now is to unplug the TBD and reset it. Is this a settings issue, a firmware issue, a cord issue, or what?

    Not really keen on the idea of leaving the tbd on all day with Caffiene, or having to hard reset my display every couple of days.
  20. dougSince86 macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2013
    USB ports still not working - intermittent

    It's relieving to hear that others are experiencing "dropped USB connections" on their TB Display. This has been plaguing me since I bought it a year ago. It works just enough for me to get by (50% of the time), and works after I reboot once (or twice).

    The malfunction is always the same: I connect the display, my desktop shows fine, but the keyboard and mouse (connected to the back of the TB display) are dead. I unplug the all in one TB display cable from my Mac and then the laptop screen freezes, I have to reboot, usually twice, then magically the display and peripherals work fine. If I keep my laptop connected for days on end, no problem, but I usually plug in and out several times a day.

    I gave up after having an Apple support ticket, plenty of advice, and TWO trips to the Apple store, including one where they completely replaced the board and the cables on my Display. No matter what has been said or done, the problem is unchanged. I see no lasting solutions posted on this board. (although yes it does work to use the additional TB port and a non "all in one" cable -- but I need that port for other connections and frankly Apple should make stuff that works with other Apple products.)

    I'm on a MacBook Pro 10.7.5 (lion) and I wonder if it must have something to do with Lion. And of course when you bring it into the Apple store it won't duplicate the error. Nobody has a clue. Has happened hundreds of times here at home.

    Any recent solutions or fresh suggestions since the 2012 postings? Thanks!
  21. rpg51 macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012
    I have all the same problems.

    I've tried a host of solutions. I now use a separate TB cable and that works. But I agree - very frustrating.
  22. lizibis macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2013
    All the same problems here, too!

    Have had intermittent USB problems with my 27" Thunderbolt display purchased July 2012 connected to MBpro (running MacOSX 10.7.5). I also have an Intuos tablet and wireless Apple keyboard. Have always been able to make connections work, boot and reboot (I, too unplug MBpro regularly). External drives powered on a hub to MBpro. Today (after leaving everything powered up overnight), I suddenly lost audio to Thunderbolt. Went through a couple of hours of troubleshooting and process of elimination, finally got everything back up and working as it should with ONLY the all-in-one Thunderbolt cable connected to MBpro.

    So I have all these ports on the Thunderbolt that I SHOULD be able to use, and that are problematic!

    My year warranty is up (of course). I need the display up for daily work (graphic design), so now will submit ticket to Apple and see if they will pony up for a "non all-in-one" cable or RESPOND to the problems that seem to have been plaguing this display for a long time by many users.

    Very frustrating!
  23. dougSince86 macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2013
    Thunderbolt Display... USB freezing...same problem no solution

    Over half a year later and nothing's changed... my HD Thunderbolt display still only works with USB connections intermittently. I'm sooo tired of rebooting my MacBook Pro after it freezes and crashes. I've tried everything (and as mentioned in my previous entry, I've taken the disply to the AppleStore twice and had help on the phone, with zero success).

    I recently did a complete reinstall of Lion system software (10.7.5) and was hoping it would eliminate the Display / USB problem. It didn't. Same as ever.

    Maybe when I upgrade to Mavericks the monitor will be reliable. Who knows? I've come to the conclusion that Lion is just buggy, always has been, and there's not much support for anything a few years old in the Apple stratosphere...

    If anyone has a fix, other than plugging in the external Thunderbolt plug from the back (which works but doesn't allow me to connect multiple drives), I'd love to know.

  24. chfilm macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    Having he same issues on a nMP with two Tb displays from time to time on mavericks... Then, mu keyboard which is connected to the display just won't be recknognized for a while... After several reboots it suddenly starts working again...
  25. Kristians, Jul 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014

    Kristians macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2012
    I have the same issue with the TB display on my New Mac Pro (10.9.3)...

    Edit: My local Apple Store replaced the display, the new one works fine.

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