very very slow USB transfer to new MBP

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by bernm, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. bernm macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2015
    Hi. I'd love some advice please.

    I just bought a new MacBook Pro. As part of setting it up, I want to copy my Photos library from an external hard drive (standard USB 2). I had used that with my old MacBook which didn't have a large hard drive. The new MBP has more storage space and so I'd like to stop using external storage.

    The thing is, it's very slow. It starts off by saying about 35 minutes expected, and then it slows to the transfer time as being "about a day". I know USB 2.0 isn't the fastest option out there these days, but that doesn't seem right for a 53GB file.

    Is it possible that there's a problem with my new MBP? Or is there a setting somewhere that I need to look at?

    Many thanks for any ideas or suggestions.

    Kind regards.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Could it be the USB connecting cable?

    Do you have another you could try?
  3. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
    Are the files large (bigger then 10 MB) or small (under 10 MB)? Small files take a long time to transfer compared to big files. The photos library is actually a folder that pretends it is a file so if you have many tiny files (thumbnails for your photos for example) then the estimated time goes up. If you right click on it and show package contents you can look inside.

    Does the copy ever complete or the time estimate go down? You are within the 1 year warranty so you could go to an Apple store and get them to look at it.

    As an aside, are your photos backed up or is your external the only place they exist? That sounds like a potential issue.
  4. bernm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2015
    Thanks for the replies so far everyone.

    I don't have another of those USB cables. I have a bunch of USB cables of varying styles, but only one with the type of connector that goes into this particular external hard drive.

    I checked package contents and the picture files are about 2-3 MB each.

    But I did have an idea this morning - not sure why I didn't think of trying this yesterday. We also have a newish iMac. So I plugged the drive into that and tried to copy, to compare speeds. Sure enough, it slowly started extending the copy time. So that's a bit of a relief to think that my new MBP is okay, as far as I can tell.

    I'm still left with the slow transfer rate though, but the one thing I didn't do yet is let it keep copying for a long time to see if anything changes (I was hesitant to let it run until I explored this issue some more). Since the MBP seems okay, and I'm also working from home today, I'm just going to let it run to see what happens. I wish there was a way to speed this up, but I guess once I get this copied I won't have to do that again since I'm moving away from external storage for large files like that.

    (cruisin, yes, my photos are backed up. That external drive has been included with my backups - but thanks for bringing that up anyway because it's a wise reminder.)
  5. chown33, Oct 13, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015

    chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    The last time I saw symptoms like that, my external drive was starting to fail. What was happening is that reads were taking an unpredictable amount of time, because the drive had to read and re-read the data before it was done correctly. As a result, the initial estimates for elapsed time turned out to be grossly inaccurate.

    If I were you, I'd treat this as an imminently failing hard drive, and act accordingly. Even if it turns out the problem lies elsewhere, treating the HD as unreliable seems prudent. You can try to determine the true cause of the problem after you get the 53GB of pix safely off it.

    I'll also suggest Carbon Copy Cloner as an alternative to a Finder copy. It can copy files around pretty easily, and you have several options for what to preserve, overwrite, etc. on the destination. SuperDuper might also work. Google them both and read more.
  6. bernm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2015
    Thanks Chown33 - I think you're right, better be safe than sorry if the drive is possibly failing. It's an older one now anyway.

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5 October 13, 2015