USB3 HDD kills my wifi - new router?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by newbreednet, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. newbreednet macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    I love my Mac Mini 2012!! But I just got a USB3 external hard drive, and when it's connected to the Mini it really kills my Mini's WiFi connection. Even Apple acknowledge this problem, though it kinda sucks that this problem exists!! But better to just find a workaround, no?!

    (Firstly I should mention that the router I get my connection from is not accessible to me physically. I *can* access it's admin page, though.)

    My idea is to use another router to receive the wireless signal from the original router and then pass that signal onto my Mini over ethernet. Further to that, could I also use the new router to re-broadcast the Wifi connection? (sometimes things like mobile phones have difficulty keeping a connection with the original router cos it's just too far away)

    Kind of a "two birds with one stone" question here, then.

    TL;DR - USB3 kills my wifi. Is there a device I can buy which can receive the wifi internet and pass it on to my Mac over ethernet, while simultaneously re-broadcating the wifi signal that it picks up.

  2. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    You could try the owc BT shield. It is for BT but the module in the mini is BT and wifi. See some of the posts in the associated form on owc. Users talk about usb3.0/wifi issues.

    I put it on my mini and it helped with my weak BT signal. I'm not sure about the wifi as I rely on Ethernet as the primary on the mini.
  3. elolaugesen macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Suggestion 1:
    Try moving the external HDD around a little. Move it to the left. Move it to the right. Move it forward, backward, etc. Does this change anything?

    Suggestion 2:
    Get a LONGER USB3 cable (at least 6'). Move the HDD as far from the Mini as you can. Any better?

    Suggestion 3:
    A second router may cause problems. In what way is the first router "not accessible" to you? Do you have any alternatives for a direct ethernet connection to the first router? If not, would it be possible to use the "powerline" connectors (work through ordinary electrical plugs) to establish a wired connection to the first router?
  5. newbreednet thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    Thanks everybody for the replies.

    My bluetooth is completely unaffected - strangely. Although the OWC site suggests that each individual Mini may be affected in different ways. Unless I knew it was a 100% guaranteed fix I don't want to take my Mini apart.

    I tried moving the drive around as far as the supplied cable allows (if it matters, the drive is a Seagate Expansion 2TB) the cable is probably about 3ft long. It made absolutely no difference.

    If I plug the USB3 drive into a USB2 hub and connect the hub to the Mini will that work? Albeit, obviously at USB2 speeds?

    Thanks again
  6. elolaugesen macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    I use for travelling purposes a Seagate Slim Portable Drive USB3. this way I can hook up to any mac(almost and do some work)

    with my 2012 mini I have had no problems(that I have noticed) with wifi or blue tooth when backing up the drive and then verifying the bootable backup.

    I will however next time I buy form OWC or see a service man get the shield and install when I finally after one year install a SSD. ( I always wait until warranty is up) (and I did verify that It was in USB3 mode)

    cheers elo
  7. newbreednet thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    Thanks for chiming in, Elo.

    So it looks like what the OWC site said above is playing out to be true - every Mac Mini 2012 might have different issues. Some might have the Wifi issue, some might not. Same with bluetooth. Maybe it's all in the cable. Who knows.

    If it's that hit-and-miss, would Apple exchange my Mini, d'you think?
  8. elolaugesen macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    sorry for repeating again but everyone with the USB3 problens should read this
    document found and originally posted by ???????????

    then look at the external devices and see how well they are shielded ??????
    (maybe a survey should be done to find the devices that are more susceptible to create the problem.)

    cheers elo
  9. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    Actually, sometimes the easiest way to fix this is with a new USB cable. The Apple Store has new USB A-microB cables from Belkin that surely might be better quality.

    Some older USB3 cables leaked RF interference due to poor construction.
  10. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    If changing the distance/position of the HDD makes no difference, it can mean several things - among them that the Wi-Fi signal is so weak that, even at a distance, the HDD is capable of swamping the Wi-Fi signal (that's a far-distant router!), that the interference is due to poor shielding of the USB port connectors inside the Mini, or, as g4cube mentioned, it could also be the cable.

    One cause is Apple-related (internal shielding). Have you tried using a different USB port on the Mini?

    I've looked at the photos of the Late 2012 Mini's i/o assembly at iFixit, and it shows each connector is individually and (seemingly) well-shielded. What remains is whether each shield is properly grounded - that would likely be a manufacturing defect, rather than a design defect (we'd be hearing a whole lot more about this if it was a design defect). It's likely that a manufacturing defect would be isolated to an individual port. If changing ports doesn't make a difference, the problem is likely not inside the Mini.

    The other cause (external interference) can be addressed by shielding the culprit, or boosting Wi-Fi signal strength.

    Shielding the HDD temporarily with materials at hand might be possible if you or someone you know is handy, and if it works, you can spend money on a permanent solution.

    Boosting Wi-Fi signal strength is definitely possible. I own such a device (re-transmits Wi-Fi and has an Ethernet port as well) - several companies make them, and they're stocked in places like Best Buy.

    I'm not sure whether "clocking down" the USB3 to USB2 (by using a USB2 hub) would work, but it seems likely. If you have a spare hub lying around, give it a shot. Still, you would take a performance hit. I wouldn't do this until after pursuing the other alternatives.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Go to a "wired connection" from the Mini to the router.

    That will SOLVE your problems.

    If you can't make a direct connection via ethernet, consider one of the "powerline" type scenarios.
    - Buy 2 powerline network adapters
    - Plug one into wall outlet near router and run ethernet into it
    - Plug one into wall outlet near Mini and run ethernet to it.

    Not the most elegant of solutions, but what works, works.
    That may do what you need.
  12. newbreednet thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    Thanks again for all the replies.

    Looks like my best first move then is to get Wifi Repeater to amplify my (weak) incoming signal. The router is in another house so I can't cable-in to it in any form.

    Also a branded, quality USB3 cable may help too. I was thinking of buying a USB hub anyway, perhaps that would come with a better cable?

    Does anyone know how these repeaters work. For example will my Apple TV connect to the repeater, therefore getting better connection between my Mac and the ATV.
  13. elolaugesen macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    You never said the router was in another house. This changes everything.
    You now have walls, any other obstacles, distance......


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