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15 responses to “Toshiba Acknowledges MacBook Woes in Canvio USB 3.0 Hard Drives”

  1. ArbyNav

    There’s been a lot of discussion on the Apple forums about this and I think it’s pointing to more than a power issue. I got credit for a correct fix, using a micro USB cable (instead of a powered hub). It’s worked every time except when the cable turned out to have no data connection. I can’t really take credit for the fix, there’s some hints earlier in the thread (someone mentions a mini connector, another y-cables) and my job includes sorting out interface issues (from mechanical through software or electrical), so I had some tracks already laid out. I think the power issue may be possible, but it’s a result, not the problem cause. Something is triggering the Toshiba to go to USB 3.0 – it works fine on other USB 2.0 systems. The thread discussion is at:
    Here’s the extract of where I feel the problem indicators are (page 4 of the thread)
    Based on the discussions above, I think there’s more interplay going on with the cable, Apple’s hardware, and Toshiba’s Canvio circuitry. Regarding power, the Canvio drive should be able to run just with 2.0 power and apparently does on other machines. One blogger, Christopher Price, is posting ( rives-18699 )that this situation is because the Toshiba draws more power than the USB 3.0 specs allow. Then when it connects to an Apple system, the Apple system refuses to supply more power because Apple won’t let anything but another Apple device (like an iPad) draw excess power. The MacBook system is supposed to enforce this through some Apple proprietary protocol handshake. One of the proofs of this theory is that using a powered hub works. While possible, my outside guess is there’s a bit more going on here than that. That explanation totally sidesteps why USB 2.0 connections work – they supply a max of 500ma, but work okay (except Apple). Also, if a powered hub resolves the issue, unless they’re working with an extremely new hub, it’s a USB 2.0 spec hub. What a powered hub will due is provide extra isolation between the Apple connection and the hard drive, as it has components that process and split signals between the USB receptacles. Since other USB 3.0 drives (reportedly) work with the MB, and the Toshiba Canvio only hiccups with Apple, if this happened in one of my programs I’d haul in both parties and demand to know what non-standard signals Apple was sending down the line and why the Canvio couldn’t recognize none of the USB 3.0 connections were functioning and automatically drop to 2.0. Another possibility is also that the Toshiba has it exactly right, and the other USB 3.0 drives that work with MBs aren’t really fully 3.0 capable and miss the signaling. I’d love to see reports out there of trying to connect other USB 3.0 drives to an MB. I think Toshiba models were the first ones up because they were heavily promoted/discounted over the holidays. If all the others work flawlessly with USB 2.0 connections (including MBs), and run full up at USB 3.0 speeds on 3.0 connections, then it’s Toshiba and Apple. I’ve seen notes about connecting other drives, but no specific mention on systems that have 3.0 capability.

  2. Art

    Western Digital My Passport Essential SE USB 3.0 drives and Seagate GoFlex Portable USB 3.0 drives do NOT have this problem. I have several and tested them myself, with various USB 3.0 cables. In fact, the Western Digital and Seagate drives work with their own cables, and the cables of other manufacturers, including Toshiba.

    There’s nothing to speculate on in this area. This is a Toshiba-specific problem. Period.

    1. Simon

      Actually, this is not entirely correct. The power incompatibility issues has occurred with the WD My Passport Air USB 3.0 drives. I got one from the Apple Store recently as a mobile ™ backup disk for my Macbook Air, and it wouldn’t stay mounted. The Apple forums are littered with power issues with various brands of USB 3.0 drives. The most consistently reliable brand of low cost USB 3.0 drives I have found that work with all the Macbooks in our office are the Intenso range – problem is they are from Germany and hard to get is some places.

  3. Toshiba External Hard Drive not recognized by Macbook Pro - Page 2 -

    […] this a Toshiba Canvio USB 3.0 drive, by chance? Toshiba Acknowledges MacBook Woes in Canvio USB 3.0 Hard Drives | __________________ Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an […]

  4. MG

    This Canvio 3.0 HD has been a real pain. First I had to dig out my old Windows XP PC to reformat to FAT32 with SwissKnife. Then I plugged into a 2011 Macbook Pro running OS X 10.7.2 and it doesn’t work, presumably related to the power shortage described here. The power appears to be getting to the drive as the LED comes on, but does not show in Finder or DU

    So I plug into my wife’s Macbook running 10.5.8. Works like a dream. Have managed to set up two partitions on the drive to use for Time Machine on my and my wife’s MacBooks.

    Thats the reason I bought it, before I install Lion OS X 10.7.2 on her Macbook.

    And thats where my question comes: This drive seems to work fine with Snow Leopard, Leopard, but not on Lion. That leads me to believe that this is an Apple problem.

    I love Apple products, but their sociopathic need to shut people out of using non-Apple products is beginning to grate. I seem to remember this kind of attitude playing a large role in the downfall of many a large company, the most obvious being Xerox and Microsoft. It won’t be long before some new kid on the block comes up with something that really knocks the wind out of them.

    Come on apple. This is becoming a major gripe about using Apple stuff.

  5. Fixerdrew02

    It’s definitely a power problem. I’ve confirmed this on two Macbook Pro’s, an earlier version of Macbook Pro, and a PC. The only computer that would mount the drive was the earlier Macbook Pro. I did a bit of research and testing with powered USBs to find that it was truly a power issue. I went and bought a USB Y cable to give the drive more access to power and the drive now works on any computer you throw at it.

    It just simply draws too much power for one USB port. End of story.

  6. Toshiba Completes Investigation, Offers Mac Owners Canvio Drive Replacements |

    […] is begining to enter the mobile space, while traditionally being a topic for PCs and laptops.In our previous report, Toshiba acknowledged to that our discovery of issues affecting Canvio hard drives […]

  7. O.R.

    If you connect a regular USB to Micro USB cable to the left side of the connector on the hdrive, it will work. Works fine on my iMac. Otherwise, the drive is useless. Give it a try.
    Note; I found this info elsewhere so can’t take credit for it. Cheers

  8. O.R.

    Wish I had read the entire comments before I bothered to post my last message. Oh well, obviously already covered. Sorry.

  9. Macbook Pro won't recognize Toshiba External Drive - Mac-Forums Discussions for Apple Products & Services

    […] PM Evidently, there's some issues with the Toshiba Canvio series drives and some MacBook models: Toshiba Acknowledges MacBook Woes in Canvio USB 3.0 Hard Drives | If the drive is relatively new, I'd try returning it to your retailer. Toshiba doesn't exactly […]

  10. Michael Tsai - Blog - Overpowered USB Devices, Underpowered Hubs

    […] 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, […]

  11. The Mac Nerd
  12. Mr. Lee Shartau

    I just bought a 1TB version. It states on the box”for the few computors that limit bus power, a special USB power cable is required. Visit: for more information

    The one I bought boots up fine in a 1.66 intell Mac mini 500mA at the port, and in a G5, same, but I have another issue, I cannot get it to work as a boot volume. Does not work pressing option, does not show up in Startup Disk This beats me but it does back up with time machine. One Trick Pony ?

  13. Simon

    The power incompatibility issues has occurred with the WD My Passport Air USB 3.0 drives. I got one from the Apple Store recently for my Macbook Air, and it wouldn’t mount.