Warning: Some external drives experiencing data inaccessibility after OS X Mavericks installation

“If you have an external storage drive such as those from Western Digital or LaCie, and if you have configured the drive with included software and drivers that came with the drive or which you downloaded from the manufacturer, then be aware that this software may not be compatible with OS X upgrades and could result in the inability to read the data you have on the drive,” Topher Kessler reports for CNET. “In a growing Apple support discussion forum thread, and in CNET article comments, a number of Mac owners who have upgraded to OS X Mavericks are experiencing issues with external hard drives such as those offered by Western Digital and LaCie. These individuals have used the WD Drive Manager and similar utilities to configure the drive for Mountain Lion and prior versions of OS X, but after upgrading to Mavericks the system reports their drives as empty devices.”

“If this has happened to you, or if you have such a drive and are considering upgrading to Mavericks, then there are some steps you can take to ensure both compatibility and that your data is safe. First, be sure to back the data up to at least one additional location,” Kessler reports. “With your data backed up, check with your drive’s manufacturer for any updates to the utility software you use for configuring the drive, in addition to any firmware updates that may be available for the drive… Only proceed with upgrades if you have backed up the data on your drives, have ensured you have the latest software updates from the manufacturer, and if you have not found any reports of compatibility errors (or better yet, have found reports of the drive working fine for others).”

Do not format or partition the drive, or set it up for use with Time Machine, even if OS X issues prompts to do so, as this will wipe potentially restorable data from the drive. (Bold emphasis added – MDN Ed.) With the utility software updated, attempt to use it to access and mount the drive (again, without formatting or partitioning), but if that does not work then restore to a backup of OS X,” Kessler reports. “When the system is running its previous operating system and software setup, you should be able to attach the drive and read data from it as you were able to before upgrading.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “john” for the heads up.]

33 Comments

  1. I’ve had a weird *seemingly* Time Machine related problem specifically with 4TB G-Technology G-Drives connected to an iMac 8,1 Early 2008.

    After Time Machine runs, the G-Drives are in this weird state in which you can’t write to them. Nothing appears out of the ordinary, no permission problems. Any attempt to write to the disk gives back a -50 error. Attempts to eject the disk give back the irksome “some program is using your drive” error, but a quick lsof in terminal and nothing, not spotlight, nothing is accessing those drives. I have to force eject them or restart the computer. It happens right after running Time Machine, happened under OS X 10.8.5, and a clean install of OS X Mavericks. Finally wound up swapping out my LaCie drives for this guy’s G-Drives.

    https://discussions.apple.com/message/23613102?ac_cid=op123456#23613102

    1. This is affecting thousands of people. I usually reformat but this drive was a WD passbook “For Mac” and I’ve used it as is for photos. Those using the WD software will brick. Same with LaCie. They totally reset as if out of the box. Still good but directory wiped. Data wiped, reset. Def reformat a new drive. Apple community threads on this past 14000 views. Another near 10000 WD thread way up there. People buy MyBook as backups. Many getting burned. I had no choice with my new rMBP With maverick. Plugged the drive in and it bricked. No warning. So I warned you guys. Good luck.

      1. I feel bad for many people. The discussion thread on the Apple support community for MAVERICKS clearly has this as the biggest topic. Approaching 15000 views.. that’s a lot of wiped hard drives. I’m telling you. it’s doing this with absolutely no warning. If you don’t research the problem, any other HD may do the same.. We tend to be a little more savvy than the average user, but the people getting creamed are using these MYBOOKS for BU… WD is going to take a HUGE hit. But LaCie too, Don’t infall their software. I can’t believe not ONE of the WD crew plugged one of THEIR external drives in to test, and lost all data in BETA testing… my god.. and 2, 3, 4 TB of info is a TON to lose.. I have Backups of most, Data Rescue 3 claims their deep scan will bring files back, but with no names. no tables. just blank files. Just a heads up.

        1. This is getting bad now for many people guys… just a warning but now Seagate drives and an internal WD drive with no WD software installed has failed. Bad Bad Bad. comments on one thread heading over 17000 views.. seems to be happening to thousands of people. Loosing years worth of Data. Even internal drives reported now. this means many cannot chance plugging in anything. when it hits, No warning. it totally wipes your data. No way to just CHANCE IT… or TEST IT.
          you go for it to not. I have not heard of one successful recovery.. just partial data. WTF???

    2. I never ever ever install the crap that comes with any ext drive. Bought many from WS, Seagate, LaCie etc etc and never has any of their included software was anything but crap.

      Buy whatever you want, pull it out of the box and just format however you want using apple’s Disk App. Problem solved forever.

  2. I just recently upgraded my and my wife’s Mac Pros to Mavericks. Each has an external disk assigned to it for b/u. Inside maverick, with apple’s “Disk Utility”, I erased the old disk and reformatted with OS extended (Journaled), and then used the new CarbonCopy Cloner 3.5.3 ($39.95) to back up the Pros. Both backups (one Lacie and one Toshiba) backed up and mounted flawlessly. (For what it’s worth)

      1. CCC expires after 30 days unless you purchase it.
        SuperDuper is free for manually cloning a drive.

        Both are awesome and well worth the small amount of $ required to make them full featured.

    1. No, just never be the first one to upgrade. Even though it’s tempting, it’s always best to wait until several updates have come out. Usually at least three. Sure saves a lot of headaches in the long run.

  3. This is a flaw in WD’s useless included disk utilities, never updated and probably never tested since Snow Leopard, and they wonder why it doesn’t work…

    1. Never install the stupid disc management SW from the drive producers. Just let the computer OS manage the disc the way it wants to.

      UNINSTALL the WD utilities SW.

    1. This. The FIRST thing I do when I get any external drive and connect it to a Mac is fire up Disk Utility and erase it.

      External drive makers are notorious for not updating their software quickly enough. And… The software is usually crap. Time Machine and/or CCC is all you need.

    2. Ditto. Same goes for printer drivers. Use what Apple supplies and you should have no problems. And ESPECIALLY, NEVER install any HP printer drivers. The last time I did this it dumped over 300MB of crap onto my drive. For a printer driver???

    1. My experience is the same: Time Machine on a Western Digital at home and on a Passport at work with no problems at all.

      Maybe it’s karma and that fawn I saved from the King’s stewpot in 1542… 😆

  4. I can access my old G5 MacPro with a WD 1TB secondary hard disk and two external LaCie drives with no problem at all from my Mavericks 2008 MacBook, as well as my wife’s old G% MacPro and its external hard drives. No issues here.

  5. After mavericks, my mac mini would not shut down. it would restart with an error message before going back to the login screen.

    I fixed the problem. I use a bear extender wifi adapter. the old software has issues with mavericks. bear extender now offers free download of new beta software for mavericks users. i installed it and it fixed the problem

  6. I always format new drives using Disk Utility, I have never had any issues accessing them. Not even now. My External TM 3TB WD HD is fine. a WD My passport is fine and a GDrive Slim is also fine. Like I said, reformat and you should be Ok.

  7. If you’re using a PCI eSATA controller with a Silicon Image chip simply download & reinstall the driver. Maverick uninstalls it during the OS update, but you can simply reinstall it and it works fine after that.

    Also, for those that experience this phenomenon with any port type, don’t forget that, as a last resort, you can remove the internal hard drive and rescue your drive and data by using an external drive bay that is made to receive bare drives. Star tech is one of a few manufacturers that makes a device like this.

    If your external drive is comprised of multiple drives that are RAIDED or Concatenated then your probably screwed for the data if you can’t find a driver solution. Most likely the bare drives themselves are reuseable though.

    1. Is this the technical reason why the drives fail to work? The hardware vendors using an “unsupported” eSATA controller which required a driver be installed on OS X to access it?

      If so it should be widely spread and any vendor doing this should be shunned and criticized in public. There’s absolutely no reason to do this in the 21st century with the hardware support that is currently available in OS X.

      Especially in a product specifically designed for Macintosh usage.

  8. Personally, I would never ever configure an external drive with the manufacturer’s software. That’s just asking for trouble, no matter which version of OS X is installed. I always reformat new drives with the “Mac OS X Extended (Journaled)” option and have never had a problem with any external under Mavericks or any other version of OS X.

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