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View Full Version : Another (hopefully simpler) external HDD issue


beaudeal
03-18-2009, 12:10 AM
A couple of weeks ago I posted about an external hard drive that was no longer working, which I was having trouble accessing files from. Here is a link to that post: http://forums.macosxhints.com/showthread.php?t=99366

As I said in that thread, I was able to recover all of the important data using a PC and some third party software. Now, however, I am back on my Mac, and I want to just wipe the drive clean and start new. When I run Erase in Disk Utility, I'm receiving various errors including:

Disk Erase
failed with the error: Operation timed out

Disk Erase
failed with the error: Could not open disk

Now it is just frozen at "Unmounting Disk" - clicking on Verify or Repair Disk causes it to freeze up as well.

Is there any way for me to wipe this drive clean, reformat it, and basically start all over?

Thanks so much!

hayne
03-18-2009, 12:45 AM
It's sounding like there might be hardware problems with that disk.
If so, it is obviously not a good idea to try to use it for anything.

beaudeal
03-18-2009, 01:01 AM
Hi hayne,

Thanks for the quick response. That's what I was afraid of, but because I was able to recover a lot of data, I was hoping that the drive wasn't damaged. Would you suggest that I just toss that disk and buy a new one to avoid any potential problems with this one? If that's the case, could you recommend an external HDD for a Mac (either something complete or an internal + enclosure)?

Thanks so much!

hayne
03-18-2009, 01:09 AM
I'm weak on hardware things (I'm a software guy), so you'll have to look to others for advice on buying a new drive. Note that a few people have already asked about this on forum threads, so searching the forums will get some advice.

trevor
03-18-2009, 10:11 AM
Thanks for the quick response. That's what I was afraid of, but because I was able to recover a lot of data, I was hoping that the drive wasn't damaged.

I agree with hayne, this sounds like hardware problems, and it's not worthwhile to try to use this hard drive any further. Sorry.

Would you suggest that I just toss that disk and buy a new one to avoid any potential problems with this one?

Yes. *Although, since this is a problem with an external case that we're talking about, you *might* be able to just replace the drive inside the external case and not the entire drive and case.

If that's the case, could you recommend an external HDD for a Mac (either something complete or an internal + enclosure)?

Do you more value portability in a hard drive, or capacity and reliability?

The answer to that will determine if you should get a 2.5" drive case (for portability) or a 3.5" drive case (for capacity and reliability).

In general, I'd recommend a

1) FireWire case, using

2) the fastest FireWire interface available on your computer. I think that yours is a MacBook, one with only FireWire 400. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) So, a case with a FireWire 400 interface.

3) an Oxford bridge chipset. Oxford chipsets are noticeably faster than others such as the common Prolific chipsets, and work much more reliably and predictably.

4) external power, NOT a case that relies only on the power from the FireWire bus. (The option of using bus power is fine, but I personally would only buy a case that CAN be used with external power. Some cases don't even have a power jack.)

5) an on/off switch. Most 3.5" cases have an on/off switch, but this is something that a lot of the smaller 2.5" cases lack for some reason. A case without an on/off switch tends to have a lot more chance of blowing your FireWire port altogether.

Some brands that, in general, tend to meet these requirements are OWC's Mercury Elite Pro and Mercury On-the-Go Pro models (http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/), G-Tech (http://www.g-technology.com/), and Wiebetech (http://www.wiebetech.com/home.php). There are other good ones, too, but probably it will be much easier to find these good models on the internet than it will in your local Best Buy, which tends to sell the cheap dreck. (Actually, if you need to buy from a brick-and-mortar store, the Apple Stores are pretty good, even if a bit more expensive than buying online.)

Trevor

beaudeal
03-18-2009, 01:10 PM
Hi trevor,

Thanks so much for all of the information. I think at this point, I'm just going to buy a packaged deal, because there is just too much to choose from it seems haha. I also am not worried too much about portability, as the drives will pretty much be sitting on my desk at all times, so 3.5" it is.

I checked out your links, which were really great, but I'm still not sure I know what would suit me best. The ones that seem most interesting are:

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MAU4S7500G16/
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MAU4S7H1TB32/
http://www.g-technology.com/Products/g-driveq.cfm

I also pulled a couple from the Apple website which are rated highly:
http://store.apple.com/us/product/TV402ZM/A
http://store.apple.com/us/product/TV246ZM/A

When looking at the WD site, I also came across this device:
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=374

I'm really paranoid about losing my data since this crash happened, so I think I'm going to buy two drives so that I can have multiple backups, just in case. The data that I have though is fairly basic - mostly photos, music, and some video. My concern right now though is keeping the price down. I'm not SO concerned about the speed aspect of transfers, so Firewire isn't a deal-breaker for me. I'm also not too worried about needing to transfer data to a PC because I'm on a Mac almost 100% of the time, so the Quad interface also isn't vital. With that in mind, the WD(s) seems to be a pretty good bang for the buck, but I also don't want to be stuck with garbage.

Any thoughts on these choices?

Thanks so much again for all of the help!

trevor
03-18-2009, 02:34 PM
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../MAU4S7500G16/
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../MAU4S7H1TB32/

These would both be fine choices, depending on what capacity you're looking for.

http://www.g-technology.com/Products/g-driveq.cfm

This is also a good choice. Notice that this also offers FireWire 800 (which might be nice for you to have in the future if you get a computer with a FireWire 800 interace). Also note that this one uses a fanless cooling system. Fanless is quieter, of course. G-Tech tends to do a very good job with their cases, so it will probably keep the hard drive adequately cooled, too. But if you get a fanless case, you might want to be a little bit more aware of what drive goes into it, and whether that drive runs cool or hot. The quickest way to kill a hard drive is with too high of a temperature.

http://store.apple.com/us/product/TV402ZM/A
http://store.apple.com/us/product/TV246ZM/A

It's not clear if the Lacie uses an Oxford chipset, and I highly doubt that the Western Digital My Book does. You're welcome to try those if you want, but they aren't external hard drives that I would recommend. (If the Lacie uses an Oxford chipset, then it's should be fine.) I don't think that the WD, for example, is garbage, it is just kind of likely to have more problems than a drive with an Oxford bridge.

Trevor

mclbruce
03-18-2009, 07:01 PM
Now, however, I am back on my Mac, and I want to just wipe the drive clean and start new. When I run Erase in Disk Utility, I'm receiving various errors i I agree that there could be hardware problems with the drive. But you can try something else in Disk Utility. Click on the Partition tab and try making a new partition scheme. If that fails, then you know you have problems.

beaudeal
03-19-2009, 12:23 PM
I tried partitioning the drive, and it gave me errors as well. I'm just going to toss the drive and start with something new. Thanks so much for the help guys!