Any Problem Using Two External USB-Powered HDDs on rMBP?

Started Mar 29, 2013 | Discussions
RustierOne
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Re: Un-mounting Drives Before Sleep-Mode
In reply to noirdesir, Apr 4, 2013

noirdesir wrote:

RustierOne wrote:

They bring up another problem I'm encountering - un-mounting all drives and partitions before entering sleep mode. When I manually enter sleep mode (closing the lid) I'm un-mounting all partitions and drives first. But sometimes when the laptop is unattended for a while it enters sleep mode without the drives/partitions being unmounted. When I wake-up the machine, there's warning message to un-mount the drives first.

Do you know of any workaround for this problem, other than just setting the time before sleep to be longer?

I never had any problems of this kind, ie, putting the computer to sleep and waking it up again causing the drives to disconnect (with that warning message). While I have seen a few reports of this, the vast majority of people don't have any problems.

It could be that only some drive enclosures/drives react like this, it could be that only some Mac models react like this.

Is there a difference between bus-powered and externally powered drives for you?

(You naturally can always set your computer to never sleep on its own as a workaround.)

The internal drive is a SSD, which has never given a warning message to dismount before shutting down. My machine is a mid-2012 rMBP, 15-inch, 256 GB SSD, 16GB memory.

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Russ

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RustierOne
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Re: Un-mounting Drives Before Sleep-Mode
In reply to Najinsky, Apr 4, 2013

Najinsky wrote:

RustierOne wrote:

Najinsky wrote:

Both your devices are none Apple and fall within their respective USB standards. So you can connect them in any order, plug and un-plug without rebooting (but storage needs un-mounting), and so forth, you shouldn't see any difference or have any problems.

Thanks Najinski for your relies. They have fully answered my original question.

They bring up another problem I'm encountering - un-mounting all drives and partitions before entering sleep mode. When I manually enter sleep mode (closing the lid) I'm un-mounting all partitions and drives first. But sometimes when the laptop is unattended for a while it enters sleep mode without the drives/partitions being unmounted. When I wake-up the machine, there's warning message to un-mount the drives first.

Do you know of any workaround for this problem, other than just setting the time before sleep to be longer?

Steve Jobs wrote an article about Adobe Flash in which he claimed it was the number one reason why Macs crashed. I haven't seen any actual figures on it, but my bet would be that the number 2 reason is USB.

It shouldn't be happening like that, but rather than spend a lot of time hunting down the problem, it might be simpler just to install Jettison from the App store for $1.99. This intercepts sleep mode, ejects any external drives, and re-mounts them on wake-up.

This app looks good to me, so I spent the 2 bucks. I'll see how it works.

As to the cause of the problem:

In sleep mode, the ports should still be supplying power so the drives should remain mounted. This would be important it you were using the Power Nap feature to do Time Machine Backups while the computer sleeps.

If your rMBP is from 2012, it's worth checking it has the SMC update installed .

I checked that above link, which indicated my Mid-2012 rMBP was an affected system needing the update. I downloaded the SMC Update called "MacBookProRetinaSMCUpdate.pkg". When I double-clicked the update package, I get a warning "Alert! This software is not supported on your system." Very strange.

It's interesting when I clicked on "Storage" under Hardware in System Information, it shows the following volumes: my internal 250 GHB SSD (disk 0), my two USB 3 drive's partitions (disks 1), "MacBook Pro SMC Update Manual" (disK 2) and my USB 2 drive's partitions (disks 4). From that I take it to mean the SMC update had already been apply to my machine at the factory.

It's worth noting the energy saver settings (system preferences) too, specifically the check box for 'put hard disks to sleep when possible'. If it's checked, try unchecking it or vice versa.

Both boxes were checked, so I unchecked them. I'll see if that helps.

Possibly the drives firmware has its own sleep feature and takes too long to wake when the Mac wakes, causing them to appear unmounted. If you installed any config software for the drives, try running it and seeing if there are any settings for controlling the sleep behaviour.

I didn't receive any config. software with either drive. But since the drives are different, I'll run with just one of them (the OWC) for a while to help isolate the source of the problem. I've been using two drives to enable alternate hour backups for each drive. Extra safety in case one of them dies.

Until recently, my 2010 MacBook Air was running a system that had been repeatedly migrated over the years from a Mac originally running OS X 10.2 from way back when. Everything was fine except USB. Plugging in a USB devices would sometimes (it seemed completely random) kill all hardware input on the machine (keyboard/mouse/trackpad would stop working). The only options were a hard reset via the power button, or remote desktop into the machine to restart it (if I was in the middle of something and didn't want to risk a hard reset).

I've had all manner of USB devices hooked up over the years (colorimeters, serial ports, modems, network ports, hard drives, floppy drives, CD drives, cameras, robots, phones, scanning pens, drawing tablets, and probably half a dozen more I've forgotten). I assumed an old USB driver got migrated to the MBA and caused USB to randomly crash when plugging in a device. So when I got my new 13" rMBP I set it up from scratch, rather than use Migration Assistant. I also formatted the MBA's internal SDD and did a clean install on that. Neither machine has had a problem since, so I'm now fairly confident it was an old USB driver causing the issue.

I did use Migration assistant from two different Windows machines (Windows 7 & XP).

The fact you reported that system report is showing 0 mA and 2 mA for your USB drives (and now this un-mounting issue) leads me to believe you may have a USB driver problem too. So I'd check the suppliers websites for all your USB devices and check for updated software, and also check if you have any old USB device related software you no longer use and see if you can uninstall it.

The Toshiba support website no longer services my USB 2.0 drive. I'll check the OWC support site. It says if you wish to remove the the drive without shutting down the system, it needs to be dismounted. It does not say it needs to be dismounted when shutting down.

I'm beginning to think the best solution to this "problem" is just to eject the drives before going to sleep. Jettison ought to do this for me. Also I've increased the time before sleep both on AC power and battery.

Thanks for all your help. Its been enlightening.

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Russ

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RustierOne
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Un-mounted Drives Drawing Power in Sleep-Mode
In reply to Najinsky, Apr 13, 2013

Najinsky wrote:

Steve Jobs wrote an article about Adobe Flash in which he claimed it was the number one reason why Macs crashed. I haven't seen any actual figures on it, but my bet would be that the number 2 reason is USB.

It shouldn't be happening like that, but rather than spend a lot of time hunting down the problem, it might be simpler just to install Jettison from the App store for $1.99. This intercepts sleep mode, ejects any external drives, and re-mounts them on wake-up.

As to the cause of the problem:

In sleep mode, the ports should still be supplying power so the drives should remain mounted. This would be important it you were using the Power Nap feature to do Time Machine Backups while the computer sleeps.

Using Jettison seems to have solved the problem of ejecting both HDDs when entering or returning from sleep mode.

But one thing is still troubling. When in sleep mode, both USB ports are still supplying power to the HDDs. So while the rMBP is asleep, the drives are still drawing power from the battery, unless I keep the mains power connected. Both drives, although ejected, still have their power lights on.

So I turned off "Enable Power Nap While on Battery Power" in Energy Saver settings, thinking that was the reason. Nope. It's still supplying power to both HDDs. Sometimes immediately after entering sleep mode (by closing the cover), the OWC 750 GB HDD continues to spin for quite some time. Now this is the case when Time Machine has already finished its hourly backup to one or the other of the drives. Its between the hourly backup cycle, so both drives should be idle.

While it would be easy to just keep the mains connection always plugged in, Apple recommends against having the battery always on charge.

So I just unplug both drives to disconnect them from battery power after going to sleep. But I'd rather not have to always do that, if for nothing more than wear and tear on the USB connections, let alone the extra hassle. If I leave the drives plugged in while on battery power overnight, when it comes out of sleep mode, the state of charge of the battery is significantly reduced - like from 100% down to 85%.

Any suggestions?

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Russ

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James A.
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Right USB port ejects external hard drive on Retina Macbook Pro
In reply to RustierOne, Apr 15, 2013

My 2012 Retina Macbook Pro ejects my USB 3 powered Western Digital passport drive randomly. I have done so much reading on this and the issue seems to be all over the map in terms of what actually causes this problem.

The interesting thing though is my drive only gets ejected on the RIGHT usb port. There have also been times where the right port has ejected my USB powered card reader. However I have no problems using an AC powered external USB 2 drive on the right port at all for time machine.

The issue happens purely at random while using final cut pro x or lightroom or my machine just sitting there. Sometimes I can use it for hours and other times it does it with in seconds.

I'm running on Mountain Lion 10.8.3 right now and have had the issue since ML. I didn't have the issue on Lion at all but I only had Lion for a day before I upgraded.

I have disabled my drives from sleeping and disabled spotlight. I have also turned off power napping. So I'm going to see if this fixes my problem. I don't understand as to why it would be only the right port though that does this.

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James A.
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Fixed my problem with my Retina Macbook and USB 3 drive.
In reply to James A., Jun 9, 2013

So I have made some head way regarding this odd problem. Turns out my memory card reader is fine I think. My memory card reader will eject on the right port using a 4GB Lexar 133X professional CF card but NOT on the left USB port. However ALL 3 of my sandisk CF cards work fine in the reader on both USB ports. These 3 cards range from all different speeds from 15MB/sex to 30MB/sec. My lexar is 20MB/sec rated. Go figure!?

As for the Western Digital My passport USB 3.0 drive I have come to the conclusion its the drive and not the port. Reading through various forums on Anandtech, Apple Support and the Western Digital website forum many people have had issues with these drives on USB 3 ports on both Windows and on the Mac.

http://forums.anandt...d.php?t=2302617

http://community.wd....ELP/td-p/477224

EDIT: I picked up a 1TB seagate USB 3 portable drive the other day and it has worked flawlessly on both ports for large transfers. My lexar USB3 thumb drive also works flawlessly on both ports. I stopped using my Lexar 4GB Compact flash card due to the issue of it being dismounted. That issue has been a problem for other people over at dpreview. I have placed a link to that as well below.

http://www.dpreview..../thread/3191400

I did notice that my Seagate uses less power than my Western Digital portable drive. The WD drive is said to be using 224ma where the Seagate is only using 36ma. Big difference but I'm not sure how much of that is the factor to this issue. Some people have fixed their WD portable drive by rolling back USB drivers for their motherboard which is something you can't do with a notebook really. My WD drive was really bad in bootcamp via Windows 7 though. It would disconnect every 2 seconds. However no issues in either operating system with the Seagate drive.

My guess is that the right port doesn't supply the same amount of power as the left port on the Macbook Pro considering my WD drive is fine on the left port but not the right port. Though I'm not 100% sure on that as other people have had similar issues with a desktop with this drive on all ports. Hopefully my findings will help someone out on this.

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XMacbook
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Re: Fixed my problem with my Retina Macbook and USB 3 drive.
In reply to James A., 11 months ago

Hey everyone,

Sorry to come up this old subject but I read all your comments about your troubles, and I'm having exactly the same...

Retina MPB 13 - Right USB port disconnection, sometimes every 10 seconds...

I run up all kinds of test... USB2 key 8go, USB3 harddrive 500go USB3 SSD samsung, no matter the disk, everytime the same result...

SO I'm not sure the real problem is coming from the disk...:s

It seems that other people are complaining about this. Did not find the solution yet but this is pretty bad for a laptop of this range of price, disappointed. Did not happened with my old MBP 15

bye

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