Monday, October 8, 2012 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Overpowered USB Devices, Underpowered Hubs

An annoying aspect of the current Mac hardware experience, with FireWire on the way out, is that external storage no longer “just works.” Nearly every USB hard drive I’ve used—across a variety of Macs, enclosures, hubs, UPSes, and buildings—has either exhibited power problems or random disconnects. Moreover, I’m sure that these power issues are widespread, but they are rarely discussed in product reviews and spec sheets.

Particularly problematic are the bus-powered 2.5-inch drives. The USB 2.0 Toshiba Canvio is the best that I’ve used. As far as I know, it operates correctly with the specified amount of USB current. But try connecting more than a couple to a USB hub, even the NewerTech one that boasts of delivering “all the power needed for all seven ports,” and watch it disconnect or fail to mount. The other hubs that I’ve tried, even from reputable companies, are worse.

The USB 3.0 Toshiba Canvio is even more problematic. It draws more power than is allowed by the USB spec, so that it doesn’t work at all with newer MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros that supply only the specified power to the USB ports, although it can work via a powered hub.

5 Comments

Don't lots of these drives that draw extra power offer 2 port USB plugs to draw power from two ports? I agree it's highly annoying though. Worse Apple doesn't have a good way to upgrade internal storage in their laptops which pushes one towards external drives. But external drives are a horrible experience on so many levels. I have a feeling I'll be sticking with my MBP for a while until Apple figures this out.

@Clark The dual-plug drives are less common these days, from what I’ve seen. Many of them now just have one plug that draws more power than it should. It used to be that USB was a mess but that a single device, directly connected to the Mac, always worked. Now even that isn’t true.

[...] Link. Firewire was so much better. by jgordon on October 8, 2012  •  Permalink Posted in share Tagged s [...]

This is the supposedly brilliant USB spec written by Bhatt that all Indians praise to the skies, until you discover one universal overriding little secret: USB sucks for all storage. Period. FireWire on the way out? Not anytime soon. All the cheap crappy bridge boards and their cheap crappy firmware made in China isn't helping matters either.

[…] theory, hubs are better than daisy chaining, but finding a USB hub that’s reliable is a challenge. Even when directly connected, nearly every USB 3 storage device I’ve used is […]

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