Problems reported mounting USB 3.0 external drives on new MacBooks

Problems reported mounting USB 3.0 external drives on new MacBooks

Summary: Based on a rash of recent posts in Mac discussion boards, something appears to be up with connecting external USB 3.0 drives (or cables) and the new MacBook Air (mid-2012) and MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

TOPICS: Laptops, Apple, Hardware

According to a number of recent posts in Apple's Support Communities and on external Mac discussion boards, some users of the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display and MacBook Air models are having trouble mounting external USB 3.0 drives (or at least they are said to be USB 3.0 by their manufacturers). The drives, from a number of vendors, could be mounted on earlier MacBook Pros, the readers said.

User Micky350 wrote about his/her experience at the Apple Store Genius Bar:

Okay so update: I went to the Apple Store and he tried it on a couple of Retina models and it wouldn't work either. He seems to think it is the cable and the driver from the hard drives thinks it is still a USB 2.0 like the older models and the MBPR are trying to read it as [USB]3.0. He sent the info onto engineering (as he was doing this he came across a USB 3.0 trouble shooting guide because apparently they are aware there are issues and are getting on top of it) but basically said it will come down to 3 options: an update from Apple, an update from each manufacturer, or worst case they just won't be compatible and people that have these HDD with problems will have to buy ones that are known to be compatible.

Some readers reported issues with USB 3.0-enabled MacBook Airs and others apparently didn't.

One reader said that he was able to mount an external HDD on his MacBook Pro (Retina) with a micro-USB cable. I can't verify that.

Let me know if this is an issue for you.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware

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  • Problems with Retina display

    Looks like some people are reporting problems with the Retina display too...
  • Problems with Overheating

    Looks like some people are reporting problems with the new Samsung Galaxy S III too....
    • So, the best solution for a problem with a Mac device, is to attack a

      different manufacturer and whatever problem that manufacturer has on one of its devices?

      Why couldn't you address the problem at hand. Your pointing of fingers at problems that others might have, is no solution at all. If you had a Mac with the problem mentioned, would you have solved the problem by talking about the Samsung problem? Would you not expect the problem to be addressed by Apple?

      If you bought a Chevy, and it had problems with the stereo, would the solution be to point fingers at Ford's problem with tires blowing up all the time?

      Try to use your head, instead of just being dismissive and in denial.

      How naive and childish.
  • Wait...

    An Apple Computer with a problem at launch? I am thoroughly surprised by this! Okay, not really but guys like Markbyrn apparently see the need to deflect the attention away from Apple.
    • Right!

      There will be a problem with EVERY computer at EVERY launch--that includes Apple, most certainly.

      Perhaps that's the point Markbyrn was trying to make, but it just came across as petty.
  • no problems...

    my USB 3 drives work fine on my Macbook Pro Retina. Was there more info... only certain file systems or something?
  • This is to funny...

    I have been working with PC Laptops which have booth USB2 and USB3 ports. My experience is exactly the same. Sometimes external USB devices just don't work in the USB3 ports. But plugging them into the USB2 ports have always solved the problem.

    So when the new the macbooks was announced and Apple made a joke of how stupid the PC laptops where with both USB2 and USB3 ports, I first thought that Apple had probably solved the problem that we in the windows world are experiencing.

    Now, who looks silly? PC laptops with to many different ports, where at least the USB2 ones always work. Or the brand new expensive MacBook where the devices just doesn't work? :-)

    I am sure that this problem will be fixed given time and new firmware/drivers. but Apple should not be so fast at pointing fingers until they are 100% sure that their stuff works.
    • You may be missing the point here.

      If the drive works when plugged-in to a USB-2-only port but fails when plugged into a USB-2/USB-3 combo port, the problem is likely that the drive is trying to negotiate the highest speed it can manage but the negotiated-to USB-3 communications is somehow failing.

      It *ISN'T* an advantage to have ports that top-out at USB-2; even if that's a work-around to the problem, the correct solution is still to fix the underlying problem and not to stop at the work-around.
      • I think you're also missing part of the point

        It's better to have USB 2.0 capability if 3.0 fails than have nothing if it fails. I agree that the problems with USB 3 need to be fixed ASAP (and this goes for all manufacturers), but until then I think it's still preferable to at least have a port that works even if it's slower.
    • Apple being silly

      Remember, that just now, Intel has added USB 3.0 to their Ivy Bridge CPUs/HUBs. The previous generation on which your "PC laptops" were based did not have Intel USB 3.0 support, but instead used additional USB 3.0 chip. This is why (and for no other reason) they had both USB 2.0 (off CPU) and USB 3.0 (separate chip). This was the only way to have USB 3.0 back then.

      I have had a number of cases, when USB 3.0 devices would not work, even when connected to USB 2.0 computer (non-Apple :)). The usual reason was the cable and perhaps the device's controller, because if I used USB 3.0 cable the device would always think it has to negotiate USB 3.0.

      So, we know for a long time, that there are broken USB 3.0 devices. Or let's say, not very compatible USB 3.0 devices.
      Is Apple to blame for this? I don't think so. I would only blame Apple, if they sold me an Retina MacBook Pro *and* and USB 3.0 device and those didn't work well together.
      • EXACTLY!

        This has been going on in the USB 3 world, even before Apple adopted it.

        This is partly why I haven't upgraded my FW800 drives, and the only new drive I've added recently has been Thunderbolt.
    • usb3 problems!

      hmmm, am glad to hear, in a curious way, that apple users are getting exactly the same problem as me, a pc win7 64bit user. it has to be honest, driven completely crazy! i bought a toshiba 2.5 inch 1tb external hd about 5 months ago on the promise of 'super fast speeds -up to 10x faster than usb2- etc etc. i might add, the usb3 hd was, on this premise, about 30euros more expensive than a comparable usb2 version. i have yet to get to work on my usb3 port. it is the same story of installing drivers, not being recognized by the computer. uninstalling drivers, not being recognized by the computer. reinstalling ranesas drivers. etc truly quite pissed off about the whole business. i might add microsoft have been noticeably silent about usb3 problems and have given me absolutely no help at all. strange thing is, it works fine on usb2, but then, if i'd wanted a usb2 hd, i would have bought one and saved myself some money. my sympathy, for once, really goes out to the mac users out there. this problem has been driving me crazy, in varying amounts, for the last 5 months. i can only surmise, that there's something fundamentally wrong or unstable with the whole usb3 technology.
      Mark Owen
  • You are plugging it in wrong

    [i]or at least they are said to be USB 3.0 by their manufacturers[/i]

    Yeah, it is impossible that this is Apple's fault.
  • Does not surprise me

    Apple hates USB
    • Short memory

      The original iMac is the computer that brought total reliance on USB to the mainstream. At the time the comments were "no floppy?, no ADB?, no serial port?, no parallel port? this USB thing is going to kill Apple - it's too proprietary".
      • A history lesson doesn't solve the problem at hand.

        Or, was there a real point you were trying to make?
        • A real point

          Perhaps, he was trying to point out, that if someone claims "but Sun does not rise from East", then the rest of their sentence might be just as wrong.

          The problem at hand is solved by having those devices that are incompatible with USB 3.0 but claiming to support it, either:
          - fixed (unlikely to happen, as they usually come from non-name makers);
          - banned from market;
          - users informed that USB 3.0 is still not very reliable technology, because there exist a lot of incompatible devices.

          Where is it Apple's fault? Apple in fact waited for over a year before producing an USB 3.0 capable Mac, thus reducing it's users exposure to early and unstable technology.
      • Flawed Memory

        ...except Apple's dependence was on FireWire. Their support of USB came later.

        BTW, I had an old Apple many years ago. It had a FireWire HDD and yes, they had similar problems. It was how I found out that Apple doesn't have a Blue Screen of Death - theirs is black.
    • Congrats

      "Apple hates USB" is truly the dumbest thing I've read all year.
  • Apple fail

    Why would they be using USB 3, when they have Intel's thundercrap port? I thought it was so much faster and more reliable? Cost's must be typical for Apple or Intel, which means Ferrari pricing with Ford Pinto results.